Costa Rica's Policing of Sexuality and the Normalization of the Bourgeois Family

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Costa Rica's Policing of Sexuality and the Normalization of the Bourgeois Family
Rodriguez, Griselda
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (96 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Latin American Studies
Committee Chair:
Thurner, Mark W.
Committee Members:
Brown, Richmond F.
Deere, Carmen
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Subjects / Keywords:
Bourgeois ( jstor )
Family structure ( jstor )
Gender politics ( jstor )
Gender roles ( jstor )
Liberalism ( jstor )
Police ( jstor )
Prostitution ( jstor )
Sex workers ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Womens studies ( jstor )
Latin American Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
american, anderson, argentina, authoritarian, behavior, bourgeois, catholic, church, community, costa, crime, cultural, culture, democracy, dependency, disease, domestic, exceptional, exceptionalism, female, foreign, foucault, governmentality, history, imagined, institution, institutions, latin, legalization, liberal, liberalism, licentious, male, man, marginalization, marginalized, maternity, men, mexico, modernity, modernization, modernize, morals, mother, mujeres, nation, national, nationalism, nineteenth, norms, peru, policies, policing, practice, practices, private, profilaxis, promiscuity, promiscuous, prostitute, prostitutes, prostitution, public, puntarenas, reclusion, rica, scientific, sexual, sexuality, social, society, spanish, state, states, studies, subjectivity, united, venerea, venereal, wife, woman, women
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Latin American Studies thesis, M.A.


The formation of Costa Rican nationhood or ?nation-ness? may be studied as a process of historical invention or subject formation in which identities or subjectivities such as ?wife,? ?mother,? ?woman,? and ?prostitute? were normalized as regulated components of the nation. The normalization of these subjectivities may be studied through institutions that either directly or indirectly controlled sexuality. Prostitution laws, through marginalization, contributed to defining ?wife? and ?mother? as much as they defined ?prostitute.? Some scholars, such as Donna Guy, argue that the policing of sexuality is thought to be a reflection of national authoritarian politics, past or future. Costa Rica?s marginal experience with authoritarianism but its parallel policies concerning sexuality demonstrates that the policing of sexuality do not necessarily signal authoritarian politics. Rather, they may point to the structure of the modern nation and its foundational necessities. The bourgeois family structure proves to be a pillar of the modern nation and its normalization was achieved through a series of practices that included prostitution laws. Prostitution laws make visible marginalized members of society, namely ?prostitutes.? Their marginalization, while defining ?prostitute,? simultaneously instituted official definitions of ?wife? and ?mother.? Such a study observes the ?prostitute? as an ?other? that shaped sanctioned public behavior. Regardless of nationally created and perpetuated notions of exceptionalism, the development of the Costa Rican bourgeois family and efforts to create and preserve it through prostitution laws is parallel to Argentina, even though its political development is considered to be at an opposite extreme. The ideas of Liberalism, including progress and modernity, are prevalent during the late nineteenth century and a study of Costa Rica demonstrates a differentiation between the development of the modern nation and particularities in national myths and politics. This study focuses on the use of prostitution regulations in San Jose acute as the center of the leadership for Liberal reforms in the late nineteenth century. The reforms that are of particular interest are those related to prostitution and by association the bourgeois family unit associated with the successful coffee producing society of Costa Rica?s Central Valley. The main purpose of the study is to relate the official national narrative with its myths of the white yeoman farmer and egalitarian society to the development of a series of practices that effectively controlled public morality. Although prostitution regulations were legally uniform across the nation with the ley de Profilaxis Vene acuterea of 1894, there were differences in enforcement, with San Jose acute and the Central Valley being the strictest. Enforcement in San Jose acute was markedly more significant because it was the nation?s capital and at the center of its self-created myths of the bourgeois family and the role of female subjectivities. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Adviser: Thurner, Mark W.
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by Griselda Rodriguez.

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2 2010 Griselda E. Rodriguez


3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For being an incredible source of ideas and advice, and for eternally changing my theoretical approach to history I would like to thank Dr. M ark Thurner. I am grateful to Dr. Richmond Brown for continuously having an open door policy and being a genuine source of intellectual comfort. To them and to Dr. Carmen Diana Deere I am in debt for their sincere suggestions, guidance, and patience during the lengthy process of thesis writing and my overall intellectual development. I would like to thank my mother, for being my deepest confidante and most fervent supporter; my father for reminding me of the importance of laughter during my moments of frust ration; and my brother for being a never -ending source of advice and positivity.


4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................................... 3 ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................................................... 5 CHAPTER 1 NATION, GENDER, AND MYTH ............................................................................................. 7 Costa Ricas Exceptionalist Myth .............................................................................................. 11 Discovery and Recovery ............................................................................................................. 14 Family and the Nation ................................................................................................................. 18 Gender and the Latin American Nation ..................................................................................... 27 2 PROSTITUTION AND THE NATION .................................................................................... 31 Prostitution and the Imagined Community ............................................................................ 33 Managing Prostitution ................................................................................................................. 38 Costa Ricas National Narrative ................................................................................................. 39 Prostitution and the Latin American National Narrative .......................................................... 41 3 COSTA RICA AND PROSTITUTION .................................................................................... 48 Managing Prostitution: Early Efforts ......................................................................................... 49 Managing Prostitution: Legalization o f the Trade .................................................................... 56 Denunciations and Registration .................................................................................................. 60 Problems with La Ley de Profilaxis Venrea de 1894 and Venereal Disease ..................... 65 4 EDUCATION AND DISCIPLINE ............................................................................................ 74 Education ..................................................................................................................................... 74 Discipline ..................................................................................................................................... 80 5 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................... 89 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................................................................................................... 92 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................................. 96


5 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts COSTA RICAS POLICING OF SEXUALITY: AUTHORITARIAN FOUNDATIONS OF THE MODERN NATION By Griselda E. Rodriguez May 2010 Chair: Mark Thurner Major: Latin American Studies The formation of Costa Rican nationhood or nation -ness may be studied as a process of historical invention or subject formation in which identi ties or subjectivities such as wife, mother, woman, and prostitute were normalized as regulated components of the nation. The normalization of these subjectivities may be studied through institutions that either directly or indirectly controlled se xuality. Prostitution laws, through marginalization, contributed to defining wife and mother as much as they defined prostitute. Some scholars, such as Donna Guy, argue that the policing of sexuality is thought to be a reflection of national author itarian politics, past or future. Costa Ricas marginal experience with authoritarianism but its parallel policies concerning sexuality demonstrates that the policing of sexuality do not necessarily signal authoritarian politics. Rather, they may point to the structure of the modern nation and its foundational necessities. The bourgeois family structure proves to be a pillar of the modern nation and its normalization was achieved through a series of practices that included prostitution laws. Prostitution laws make visible marginalized members of society, namely prostitutes. Their marginalization, while defining prostitute, simultaneously instituted official definitions of wife and mother. Such a study observes the prostitute as an other that sh aped


6 sanctioned public behavior. Regardless of nationally created and perpetuated notions of exceptionalism, the development of the Costa Rican bourgeois family and efforts to create and preserve it through prostitution laws is parallel to Argentina, even though its political development is considered to be at an opposite extreme. The ideas of Liberalism, including progress and modernity, are prevalent during the late nineteenth century and a study of Costa Rica demonstrates a differentiation between the de velopment of the modern nation and particularities in national myths and politics. This study focuses on the use of prostitution regulations in San Jos as the center of the leadership for Liberal reforms in the late nineteenth century. The reforms that a re of particular interest are those related to prostitution and by association the bourgeois family unit associated with the successful coffee producing society of Costa Ricas Central Valley. The main purpose of the study is to relate the official nationa l narrative with its myths of the white yeoman farmer and egalitarian society to the development of a series of practices that effectively controlled public morality. Although prostitution regulations were legally uniform across the nation with the ley de Profilaxis Venrea of 1894, there were differences in enforcement, with San Jos and the Central Valley being the strictest. Enforcement in San Jos was markedly more significant because it was the nations capital and at the center of its self -created myt hs of the bourgeois family and the role of female subjectivities.


7 CHAPTER 1 NATION, GENDER, AND MYTH The Costa Rican nation has, through a series of historical efforts, established a uniform national narrative. This national narrative does not accurate ly reflect the diversity of the Costa Rican nation in terms of economics, politics, or demographics. Nonetheless the formulation and normalization of the national narrative is significant in understanding the modern Costa Rican nation through both its excl usions and inclusions. This study focuses on the Central Valley region of Costa Rica, in particular San Jos because of its central position in the development the nations narrative as a Liberal, modern, and progressive nation during the 1880s. Most of the primary research was conducted in the Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica with congressional, juridical, police, and public education documents. Initially, due to Costa Ricas reputation for its education, the focus of the study was womens education, parti cularly through the Colegio Superior de Seoritas In spite of its historic significance to the nation, however, most of the archives of the Colegio are not available in the National Archives. Many of the available education documents do not reflect the de velopment of curricula as related to national changes but rather center on interpersonal relationships between families and the teachers and directors of schools. Since the main interest of the study is the national narrative of the Costa Rican nation as it is institutionalized through official practices and because I found educational documents lacking significant details for a strong foundation in such a study, prostitution records proved to be more insightful. The regulation of prostitution is well docu mented from a legal and political level through congressional debates and police records. Documentation also reflects general opinion through prostitution denunciations. As a result, the study focuses on the regulation of


8 prostitution and its role in defin ing female subjectivities as it contributed to the foundation of Costa Ricas official national narrative as a modern Liberal state. As with any modern nation, a series of foundational myths define and perpetuate the Costa Rican nation. Costa Rica puede decirse que naci con la independencia. Ya hemos visto el triste estado en que vivi durante la colonia, lo cual demuestra que este pas cuanto es se lo debe si mismo. La ndole pacfica de sus habitantes, el amor al trabajo y su carcter sesudo y reflex ivo tenan que dar lugar la siembra de una simiente ms valiosa mil veces que la del caf: la simiente de progreso, que ha dado ptimos frutos .1 This national publication very concisely lists the fundamental myths characteristic of the Costa Rican nati on. The creation of the Costa Rican nation is attributed to the noble characteristics of its citizens and their pacific nature and love of labor, rather than the economic success of coffee. Costa Rican national publications in 1900 outlined the evolution of Costa Rica in very simple stages: the plantation of coffee allowed the nation to be in constant and direct contact with the international world; as a result of this contact, Costa Rica developed in modern and progressive ways as Costa Ricans were expos ed to intellectual centers of the most modern civilization of the world.2Costa Ricas other foundational myths include cultural homogeneity, social and economic equality, and democratic ideals. These myths are justified with Costa Ricas miserable birth as a repressed, ignored, and poor colony. It was referred to as the Cinderella of the Spanish A cornerstone of Costa Ricas foundational myth is that this intellectual development was simultaneous with its economic development. 1 Juan Fernndez Ferraz, Francisco Mara Iglesias and P aul Biolley, Revista de Costa Rica en el siglo XIX ( San Jos : Tipograf a Nacional 1902). This was a national publication approved by the national government and published on July 23, 1900. Its purpose was to record the development of Costa Rica during the nineteenth century. It was to address, legal, religious, and medical aspects of its development. It includes chapters on historical memory and public hygiene. A number of Costa Rican doctors, lawyers, members of the church, and congressmen contributed to the chapters. 2 Ferraz, 139.


9 colonies3 for the initia l disappointing settlement and the later development of economic and political stability. At the center of Costa Rican myth is the yeoman farmer, whose independent efforts allowed a degree of experimentation with self -government and produced an egalitarian society unlike anywhere else in Latin America.4 Costa Ricas experience with oligarchic rule and militarism was tempered by competing democratic tendencies,5 Geographic ally, Costa Rican historiography is centered on the Central Valley region, including San Jos, Cartago, Heredia, and Alajuela. This area was one of major settlement and nineteenth century Costa Rican government documents reflect the fact, as most of the we llpreserved documents from the period address these areas. By contrast, the settlement of Matina on the Atlantic coast was difficult due to the humid coastal climate in addition to the scarcity of women in the region. Located on the coast, it was believ ed susceptible to pirating and sexual trafficking of women. and therefore national memory and historiography have not emphasized such factors. 6 During the coffee boom in t he 1840s, the Costa Rican nation chose to create a national education system rather than devote its budget to military expenses. This choice is key in understanding the presumed peaceful development of Costa Rica. Rather than employing the In the late nineteenth century, Matina would serve as a remote area of punishment for prostitutes who refused to be rehabilitated with appropriate domestic behavior. 3 John A. Booth, Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1998), 331. 4 Booth, 35; Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen, The Costa Rica Reader (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989), 12. 5 Edelman, 3. 6 Edelman, 16. I n reference to Matina: The population never expanded significantly, in part because women were scarce. Even the wives and daughters of the black slaves and Indians were prohibited from living there to prevent their capture and salve to Jamaica. See also C arlos Monge Alfaro, Historia de Costa Rica: texto para primeros y quintos aos de segunda enseanza (San Jos: Imprenta Trejos Hnos., 1963), 117.


10 military and re pressive techniques to influence the population and resolve conflict, the education system became the form of true and direct domination.7 In 1869 a constitutional clause made primary education for both sexes obligatory, free, and at the cost of the Nat ion.8 While schools were hoped to prevent inappropriate behavior, primarily promiscuity, in the female youth of the nation, prostitution regulations were meant to correct misguided female behavior.9 At the turn of the twentieth -century, there was a degre e of public disappointment and frustration with Costa Rican politics as contemporaries viewed President Rafael Yglesias as a dictator within a democratic system. 10 This was subtly reflected in the Revista de Costa Rica en el Siglo XIX whose message to poste rity warned to look for noble actions and honorable customs within the home and not in the political.11 7 Edelman, 4547. While state documents do not reflect a sense of effective control or a decrease in prostitution, it is clear that government officials valued the home as a unit immune to the corruption of public life. The struggle and aim to protect and preserve the family unit remained intact and prostitution regulations played a role in that goal well into the middle of the twentieth century. 8 Edelman, 47. See also Ferraz, 249250 where an autobiography of a Seorita doa Manuela E scalante was published lauding her for being highly educated during the early nineteenth century when womens education consisted of religious studies. Published in 1902, the Revista de Costa Rica en el Siglo XIX made an effort to include the Costa Rican w oman in national history as educated, respectable, and honorable. 9 Ferraz, 67. Prostitution regulations were an aspect of the laws initiated by the state to maintain and protect the tranquilidad (peace) of the nation. 10 Monge Alfaro, 226228. Published in 1963, this text was written by one of the most recognized Costa Rican intellectuals and historian. In it he explains that Rafael Yglesias ejerci una tremenda dictadura durante ocho aos para hacer realidad sus sueos Although Yglesias was elected t o office, many Costa Rican believed his election to be based on fraud or the result of an uninformed population. 11 Ferraz, 140. Si buscan nobles acciones y buenas costumbres en Costa Ricabsquenlas en el hogar, en la vida de familia y no en la vida pbli ca


11 Costa Ricas Excepti onalist Myth The myth of an exceptional Costa Rica is based on a false notion of a homogeneous European population. Due to a lack of mines and a scarcity of indigenous survivors from the Spanish conquest, Costa Ricas economy was based on peasant farmers rather than slave -based plantations.12 Established as a nation based on its exceptional status, scholars have attempted to explain its exceptionalism rather than question it. A defense of Costa Ricas exceptional status relies on a series of myths about a lack of an indigenous population prior to the Spanish conquest and the influence this had in the development of Costa Rica. Historians like Carlos Monge Alfaro argued that the colonial experience of economic neglect by the Spanish created a society based on a sense of equality that led to the development of a rural democracy in Costa Rica.13 The focus on, and use of, the myth of Costa Rican exceptionalism has unfortunately limited and deprived Costa Rican historiography of making comparisons with its Latin American neighbors. The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics progresses towards debunking this myth, however, by examining Costa Ricas economic, political, and cultural history on a more nuanced level. Costa Ricas economic development as a single -export economy reliant on coffee production, as well as its interaction with its indigenous population, and its adoption of liberal ideology in the late nineteenth century, bridges the gap with its neighbors. On a more general scope, studying Costa Rica outside of an exceptionalist status reveals more commonalities than differences with Latin America. A study of prostitutio n policies in Costa Rica reveals an This mythical homogeneity allowed the adoption and implementation of liberal ideology in the 1880s with virtually no resistance. 12 Steven Palmer and Ivn Molina, The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics ed. Steven Palmer and Ivn Molina (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 10. 13 Carlos Monge Alfaro, The Development of the Central Valley, in Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen, The Costa Rica Reader ed. Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989) 912.


12 uncanny similarity in the legal practices common to the development of other modern nations, regardless of political structures. Perhaps further studies of gender and nation will only serve to confirm the idea that na tion is the overarching concept, as few nations seem to escape the pattern of the policing of sexuality in an effort to impose social norms. The ties between gender and nation seem to make no exceptions, as Costa Ricas history with prostitution will demo nstrate. The policing of sexuality was as intense there as it was in Argentina or Mexico. Yet the similarity in policing does not account for the differences in national development, although that cannot be reduced to a study of gender either. Yet such a s ituation begs a question: If Costa Rica has enjoyed more stability than most Latin American nations, does that indicate that the policing of sexuality and institutionalization of social norms was more effective there than in the rest of Latin America? That is to say, if the family structure is central to the creation and maintenance of national stability, and if that family structure is a social imposition (and not an organic development) then there exists the possibility that Costa Rican institutionalization of the family structure was more successful than others, even though the same basic approach was employed. As Anne Hayes points out in Female Prostitution in Costa Rica, Historical Perspectives, 18801930 Costa Ricas historiographical tradition has fo cused on the Central Valley region, particularly San Jos as the center of Liberal Reforms during the 1880s. Hayes work focuses on the province of Puntarenas, in particular its position as a major port region. Bordering the Central Valley region, Puntarena s was a bit removed from the Liberal reforms that San Jos adamantly pursued during the 1880s. Hayes emphasizes that Puntarenass peripheral position aids in understanding the centralization of the Costa Rican state in the 1880s as well as its exceptionali sm by Central American standards. Following Hayess argument this exceptionalism


13 is partly a result of the nations free labor system, from which prostitutes in Puntarenas benefited.14Hayess study contrasts the traditional Costa Rican historiography with its image of the white yeoman farmer[with] the female prostitutes in Puntarenas that were of color and predominantly single. She argues that the development of prostitution in the port city of Puntarenas was different from prostitution in the inland regions of Costa Rica and as such more affected by the coffee exporting industry and development of the labor system. 15Costa Ricas regulation system for prostitution, while never fully effective, was markedly unenforced in Puntarenas. The active regulation of prostitution was more common to the Central Valley region, especially San Jos, where elites categorized prostitutes as direct threats to modernization, motherhood, and the familypillars of the liberal state based on the coffee culture in the Meseta Central. As an export center, Puntarenas was dominated by economic factors rather than the liberal ideology of San Jos that was central to establ ishing the Costa Rican nation as progressive and morally pure. The Costa Rican nation benefited from prostitution commerce, particularly as it contributed to profits for the state liquor monopoly and because prostitution was common to the port since the ri se of coffee in the 1840s. 16 14 Anne Hayes, Female Prostitution in Costa Rica: Historical Perspectives, 18801930 (New York: Routledge, 2006), 4. The moral and legal treatment of prostitution in Puntarenas differed significan tly from that of San Jos because of the different roles that each region played in the Costa Rican economy and its politics. As the official center of the Costa Rican nation, San Joss preservation of bourgeois moral conduct was visible in its enforcement and the public 15 Hayes, 5. 16 Hayes, 17, 8690.


14 adherence to those behaviors. Puntarenas exhibited attitudes that were less severe towards prostitution.17Discovery and Recovery The historiography of gender traditionally consists of womens history or feminist history which entails an attempt to rewrite history from womens perspective. This attempt fails, however, to establish a place within history and rather perpetuates womens position as outsiders or the other. The historiography of gender was initially almost exclusively asso ciated with women and their inclusion in historically male dominated spheres, particularly politics. This connection between women and politics continues to be made, although the approach has been consistently transforming with recent gender historiography Politics continues to play a central role in gender discussions with increasing ties established between the function of the nation and gender. The notion of the private sphere disappears as the control of sexuality, particularly womens, proves to be a political aspect in the development of modern nation. One common approach in the historiography of gender is that of discovery and recovery. The theoretical assumption underlying this approach is the idea that there is historical information that has b een overlooked or ignored and that its recovery will lead to a more accurate history. By applying this approach, studies hope to disprove the notion that women have no historical place within the function of the state that is outside of the family structur e. Such an approach inadvertently perpetuates womens otherness by forcibly inserting them in a history that is already written and downplays the importance of the structures that are traditionally considered female spheres, such as the family unit. 17 Hayes, 8692, 9698. Hayes notes that there is little evidence that residents of Puntarenas complained much about prostitution, nor is there any substantial evidence that they appealed to Article #5 of the Ley de Profilaxis Venrea forcing prostitutes to move if neighbors reported scandalous behavior. Faltas a la moral and escndalo those categories of misdemeanors corresponding to such complaints, were highest in 1907, but were not the result of outcries from the local citizenry in Puntarenas. This w as not the case in San Jos, as will be explained below.


15 A different, more recent, approach studies gender from within the structures that have always included women, particularly the family structure. Rather than denying womens place in politics, which seems to be the fear of more traditional gender historiogra phy, this approach brings gender studies closer to understanding the function of gender within the state, thus merging the discussion of the two. Although the latter approach is increasingly popular, the former is not far removed from gender studies even i f it does not appear to be as productive or effective in the historiography of gender. The historiography of gender is oftentimes limited to the history of women with a focus on feminism and politics. Asuncin Lavrins Women, Feminism, and Social Change i n Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1890-1940 focuses on understanding the development of feminism in the respective countries and on dispelling idealistic myths of feminism. Lavrin studies women and politics outside of the traditional assumption that feminis m is politically progressive. Thus, she establishes a significant connection between state politics and feminism, thereby placing feminism within, instead of outside of state politics. She establishes a closer comparative tie between feminism and socialism anarchism, the labor struggle, and populism18 and consequently makes a move toward erasing the outside category that feminism or women are traditionally (and inevitably) relegated to as separate studies. She addresses the centrality of intellectual capaci ty to Southern Cone feminism, especially as it related to civic life and politics.19 18 Asuncin Lavrin, Women, Feminism, and Social Change in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 18901940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 81. Simultaneously, however, Southern Cone feminism relied on an adherence to traditional moral values of motherhood. 19 Lavrin, 21.


16 While building on the notion of reconstruction, (and im plicitly that of recovery and discovery) Lavrins work is useful for demonstrating the stronger ties feminism had to state policies rather than to progressive, radical, or revolutionary politics. She effectively argues against the idealist notion of femini sm as ultimately progressive by addressing its subordinate position to nationalism and its limited middle -class composition. The study discusses the disconnection between feminism and class or racial issues.20The historiography of gender as presented through studies like Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America formulates its theoretical base on the previously mentioned ideas of discovery and recovery. This discovery and recovery is aimed at state politics and their effect on gender relations and how gender conditioned state formation in Latin America from the late colony to the twenty -first century. By formulating and concluding her argument in s uch a way, Lavrin does not discredit feminism and womens role in politics, but rather discovers the ties that place feminism within national discourse instead of marginal to it. 21 As an overt politically conscious collection, it aims to discuss those hidden histories that demonstrate female activism and validate the political role current ly and historically. In studying gender history, the authors aim to displace the myth of womens supersubordination,22 20 Lavrin, 350355. as they argue that there is a great exaggeration of womens legal subordination during the colonial period. This argument counters the i dea that liberal ideology ushered in an age of progress that benefited women and contributed to gender equality. Rather, the argument presented centers on the opposite notion, 21 Elizabeth Dor e and Maxine Molyneux, Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America, ed. Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneux (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 3 22 Dore, 1014.


17 where liberalism created defined gender divides, especially through the constr uction of patriarchy,23Although there is a concentration on the effect of liberalism on gender, and vice versa, in the volume, the overarching theme is the ways that state creation, be it liberal, corpora tist populist, or socialist, depended on its response to and creation of gender. Consequently, the case studies included focus on the changing of societal constructs within particular state changes. State initiated changes that attempt to civilize society, in particular the institution of policies determining gender constructs, are addressed by the majority of the essays. Elizabeth Dores Property, Households, and Public Regulation of Domestic Life: Diriomo, Nicaragua, 18401900, Donna J. Guys Parents B efore Tribunals: The Legal Construction of Patriarchy in Argentina, and Mary Kay Vaughans Modernizing Patriarchy: State Policies, Rural Households, and Women in Mexico, 19301940 address the creation of the bourgeois family through state policies. Thes e articles discuss the engendering of rural and urban experiences as states rationalized domesticity for women and competitiveness and cooperation for men. and consequently exacerbated womens subordination. 24Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America foreshadows more recent research demonst rating the priority of national development and the integral role played by gender constructs. In spite of its limited theoretical approach of discovery and recovery and its aim to transform current politics on feminist terms, the study establishes a str ong connection 23 See Donna J. Guy, Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family, an d Nation in Argentina (London: University of Nebraska Press, 1991) and Mary Kay Vaughan, Modernizing Patriarchy: State Policies, Rural Households, and Women in Mexico, 19301940 in Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America ed. Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneux (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 194214. 24 Mary Kay Vaughan, Modernizing Patriarchy: State Policies, Rural Households, and Women in Mexico, 19301940, in Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America (London: D uke University Press, 2000), 200209.


18 between gender and the state on a micro level through the specific essays. This connection is reflected in later studies, even if the discovery and recovery approach is discarded. Family and the Nation In Liberalism in the Bedroom: Quarre ling Spouses in Nineteenth-Century Lima Christine Hunefeldt follows the modernization of the family structure in Lima and analyzes the changing conceptions or definitions of subjects within the family.25 As Hunefeldt discusses, the family is often studi ed as an isolated unit of analysis that is only intelligible in and by itself.26 As a result of this notion, the family is excluded from an overarching analysis of society since it exists outside of that logic. There also exists the Marxist perspective that views the family as dependent on the overall socioeconomic transformations in society.27Using the above premise, Hunefeldt studies subjectivities within the family structure, such as wife and mother, and relates transformations to national changes. Her examination of marital disputes shows c onsistent attempts by women to challenge their designated positions in society from within the existing conceptions of family and wife. Her research demonstrates changes in womens arguments that generally correlate with the consolidation of liberalism in the Peruvian state in the second half of the nineteenth century. Alongside the consolidation of liberalism was the institutionalization of the bourgeois family, viewed as central to the stability of the developing nation. Women used the conception of bourgeois family in their Hunefeldt attempts to reconcile these two considerations as a way to understand society overall. Thus, there exists a dynamic relationship between society and fa mily as they simultaneously affect each other. 25 Christine Hunefeldt, In Liberalism in the Bedroom: Quarreling Spouses in NineteenthCentury Lima (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2000), 9. 26 Hunefeldt, 4. 27 Hunefeldt, 4.


19 defense during marital disputes, where they attacked male abandonment as the cause of instability in the family. This sense of instability in the family is important to note, as Hunefeldt does, because it refers to the importance o f the role family unit as related to the state. As she emphasizes, women had to work within the subjectivities available in a liberal state that promoted the bourgeois family without destroying the familythe pivotal institution in a country that was neit her stable nor modern.28Liberalism in the Bedroom examines gendered subjectivities through the discussion of family and without excluding them from national or political discourse. Her study shows the practical influence the private sphere had on publi c policy and vice versa. The political and economic instability experienced by the Peruvian state in the latter half of the nineteenth century was key to changes in the discourse related to family and female subjectivities. The family thus serves as a useful unit of analysis to understand national processes. It further bridges the gap between gender and national discourse as it connects the domestic sphere directly to the public, showing the dynamic relationship between the two. In Divorcio y Violencia de Pareja en Costa Rica (1800-1950) Eugenia Rodrguez Senz explores the connection between gender and the politics of liberal reforms. She argues that gender was emphasized in these liberal reforms because of the role women and children had in creating the new model for family and nation and preserving the social order.29 She focuses on the redefinition of gender roles within marriage and the family unit and emphasizes the ideal of scientific maternity.30 28 Hunefeldt, 349. The liberal model for the family unit depended on the separation of the 29 E ugenia Rodrguez Senz, Divorico y Violencia de Pareja en Costa Rica (18001950) (Heredia: Editorial Universidad Nacional, 2006), 25. 30 Rodrguez Senz, 25. maternidad cientfica


20 domestic sphere and the public sphere. As the primary figure in the domestic sphere, woman was then defined by her role as wife and mother, with the responsibility of raising children of utmost importance. Rodrguez Senz notes th at maternity was elevated to the status of a modern scientific profession based on hygiene and the moral education of children, while systematically promoting a series of medical practices before, during, and after childbirth.31Similarly, Donna J. Guy uses the family and marginalized women in a discussion of the Argentine nation in Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family and Nation in Argentina Guy emphasizes the importance of the family in the construction of national identity. This was part of the liber al secularization of marriage and family where the state interfered in the domestic sphere through laws regarding domestic violence, divorce, and child rearing. As she argues, the number of divorce cases initiated by women demonstrates the non-passive posi tion that characterized women, regardless of the bourgeois gender roles enforced by the state. 32 As she argues, since the family unit was seen as the base of the new Argentine nation it was imperative that the state foment and protect the family structure and reinforce subjectivities of wife and mother. The protection of these bourgeois subjectivities created a discourse on prostitution around family reform, the role of womens work in modernizing societies, and the gendered constructi on of politics.33 31 Rodrguez Senz, 37. Practices such as medical examinations and the clin ical treatment of diseases. The threat posed by prostitution was 32 Guy, 2. 33 Guy, 35.


21 monitored by the state, which produced a great quantity of medical and social records cataloging cultural/ethnic background, occupation, age, and the like.34Guys study extends beyond an isolated gend er discussion as it proposes the relevance of gendered structures for understanding the roots of authoritarian behaviorwithin democratic societies. 35 Guy follows the changing state perceptions of prostitution from the late nineteenth century to the mid -t wentieth century. During the late nineteenth century, prostitutes were seen as a direct threat to Argentine society, as they did not conform to those standards set medically and politically.36Guy demonstrates that authoritarian politics of social contr ol were present throughout Argentinas history, and served as reinforcements of the changing perceptions of prostitution. These politics of social control consisted of medical certificates, municipal fees, etc., required by women to work as prostitutes, a ll of which were resisted through refusals to work with medical certificates or pay fees. Ultimately, she argues against the idea that authoritarianism, or the nation, can best be best understood by examining institutions such as the military, national el ections, and dictatorship. The twentieth -century, in contrast, was characterized by an incr ease in homophobia that led to changes in the discourse on prostitution. It was then perceived as a patriotic service that would safeguard bourgeois family by preventing homosexuality in males. 37 34 These records are more scientifically discussed by Julia Rodriguez, Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine, and the Modern State (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006) as will be noted further on. Instead, she argues that the undemocratic infrastructure of the nation is revealed in the ways in which gender and sexuality is policed, further strengthening the ties between nation and gender constructs. 35 Guy, 209. 36 Guy, 209. 37 Guy, 209.


22 Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine, and the Modern State is not exclusively focused on gender studies but perhaps as a result, provides a clearer and less categorical relationship between gender and the state. Like the authors of Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America Julia Rodriguez argues that nineteenth -century liberalism did not bring progress, let alone freedom and equality for all but rather it created a system of control by which Argentinas national identity restedon the identification an d definition of the other.38Rodriguez explores beyond the obvious moral argument against prostitution used by the state to justify the degree of urgent efforts to control it and notes the practices that reflected an attempt at general societal control. Her study demonstrates how the control of prostitution related to national development and concludes that the roots of Argentine authoritarianism and the dirty war of the 1970s lie in the scientific prac tices of defining, policing, and marginalizing the other. Prostitutes were especially dangerous to the state since they operated outside of the bourgeois ideal that the liberalism guided sector of the Argentine nation found central to its development. Th e function of maternity held an elevated stance as the nation depended on mothers to prevent homosexuality, alcoholism, and crime. Consequently, Rodriguez places gender within the more overarching category of other and argues that liberal ideology marginalized women outside of the bourgeois ideals of wives and mothers. Women who were neither wives no r mothers were a potential threat to the developing Argentine national identity. 39 38 Rodriguez, 36. A rejection of motherhood could be equated with a refusal to contribute to the nations development. The legalization of 39 Rodriguez, 244.


23 p rostitution served as a direct way of controlling this perceived threat to the liberal ideology embraced by the Argentine elite. Civilizing Argentina shares a commonality with Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in its attempt to displace myths of nin eteenth -century liberalism and the so -called progress it produced. Although these two books share this attempt, it is clear that the approaches conclude at different points. Whereas Hidden Histories of Gender and the State focuses on gender constructs as r elated to the state, Civilizing Argentina uses gender constructs to discuss the state itself. That is to say, gender becomes a tool to understand the state and national development. Rodriguez demonstrates that the ideas of progress, freedom, and equality were myths, as liberal ideology produced a strictly regulated society to enforce bourgeois gender ideals, both female and male. In Compromised Positions: Prostitution, Public Health, and Gender Politics in Revolutionary Mexico City Katherine Bliss follows Donna J. Guys approach of relating prostitution and public health to national development. Bliss focuses on revolutionary Mexico City but provides an analysis of the pre revolutionary state that indicates a lack of transformation as related to the percep tion of gender and gender relations. Like late nineteenthcentury Buenos Aires, Porfirian Mexico City established laws that required sexually promiscuous women, i.e. prostitutes, to register with public health authorities, pay licensing fees, carry an id entification card, undergo weekly gynecological examinations, and submit to hospitalization if found to be carrying a venereal disease.40The conception of prostitution as a necessary evil during the Porfirian period was overturned in the revolutionary period. The Porfirian state became negatively associated with prostitution as it was blamed for producing and perpetuating the vice. As Bliss discusses, 40 Katherine Bliss, Compromised Positions: Prostitution, Public Health, and Gender Politics in Revolutionary Mexico City, (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State Univ ersity Press, 2001), 28.


24 however, prostitution did not decrease in the revolutionary and post -revolutionary period. Instead it p robably increased as the revolution continued to separate male and female spaces. The revolution imagined prostitutes as victims of the Porfirian states corruption and aimed to protect prostitutes from being exploited by both unruly clientele and unscrup ulous madams.41Increasing concern and paranoia over venereal diseases also changed gender constructs in the post revolutionary period. Prostitutes were categorized as victims and in need of protection from the state. The state had to reconcile the thre at of venereal diseases with male masculinity. As a result, there is a simultaneous effort to control promiscuity in order to curtail venereal diseases, while promoting male masculinity through overt sexuality. Blisss study demonstrates that the states r hetoric of change was fundamentally flawed as it retained older ideas about gender and social class 42Sueann Caulfields In Defense of Honor: Sexual Morality, Modernity, and Nation in Early Twentieth Century Brazil attempts to understand the relationship between the role of sexual honor in everyday personal choices and conflictsand its role in public debates over the modernization of the Brazilian nation. that were a reflection of those in effect during the Porfirian state. 43 41 Bliss, 81. Caulfields study shows the constant problems faced by the Brazilian state to reconcile the notions of modernization with sexuality. Some Brazilian elites argued that traditional sexual norms of honor and family values contradicted the nations path to modernization. The argument wa s countered by a desire to retain those sexual norms in order to elevate the morality of the nation, thus claiming superiority. 42 Bliss, 208. 43 Sueann Caulfield, In Defense of Honor: Sexual Morality, Modernity, and Nation in Early Twentieth Century Brazil (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 3.


25 The perception of sexual honor changed depending on the states needs and purposes, much like one saw the perception of prostit ution change in Argentina for the same reasons. During the 1930s, the Brazilian states rhetoric increasingly linked centralized state power, national honor, and the traditional Brazilian family.44Caulfield studies gender constructs and the nation through the social norms, particularly women as defined by virginity, rather than through marginalized women as Donna Guy and Katherine Bliss do. Thus, instead of studying the states control of prostitution and women outsi de of the bourgeois family ideal, she studies the states involvement within the family. That is to say, she looks at the efforts of the state to promote and ensure virginity through obligatory state medical examinations. Once again, the idea of family plays a significant ro le in the function of the state and power. The traditional Brazilian family became a reference of power, legitimacy, and authority for the Brazilian state, especially since existing social norms validated the importance of the family. 45In Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920-1950 Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt explores the efforts of popular -front Chile to become part of the Her discussion of gender and the state is particularly interesting because she includes modernity as a central theme to the discussion, especially as the state struggled with accepting or rejecting the changing gender and social norms. Ultimately, however, one notes that acceptance or rej ection was based on what the state found necessary for stability. 44 Caulfield, 15. 45 Caulfield, 1719. Thus, in such a case, women who were within the family unit or who had chosen to belong to the family unit and were not rejecting any conventional norms were subject to examination. Here, official monitoring was not exclusively limited to marginalized women, i.e. prostitutes.


26 civilized world and how gender was implicated in their plans. 46 The referenced civilized world includes the idea of the bourgeois family and of a controlled sexuality. A non-centralized family and an uncontained sexualitywere associated with barbarism,47 a categor y that no modern and developing nation wished to be associated with, especially a revolutionary government. National development includes a creation of adequate citizens, which as Rosemblatt points out, is partially done through the control of sexuality. M uch like in Argentina and Mexico, Chile did this through scientific intervention, state planning, and widespread campaigns to discipline popular classes and to make them honorable.48Rosemblatt emphasizes the subaltern classes and has a positive assessment of their contri bution to the changing gender constructs. This work is perhaps most closely related to Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America in terms of the positive view of the subaltern classes and the role of women. In addition, however, Rosemblatt includes a deeper and more detailed discussion of both the feminine and masculine genders, especially as she discusses the changes in the masculine gender construct as worker and explains the rejection of such a category by the popular -front since it was based on the capitalist notion of the individual. Her focus is not exclusive to state efforts, however, as she also explor es the roles that subaltern classes played in the enforcement of state policies to control sexuality. She also argues for the fluidity of class and gender alliances. In Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, Laura Briggs examines the use of prostitution laws and related scientific practices the United States implemented after 1898 to formulate Puerto Rico as an other. Puerto Ricos prostitution laws 46 Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 19201950 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 12. 47 Rosemblatt, 13. 48 Rosemblatt, 13.


27 reflected the Catholic attitude common throughout Latin America because of Spanish colonial heritage. This attitude of prostitution as a necessary evil differed from the Protestant vi ew of repression, as Donna Guy mentions in Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires.49 Prostitution continued to be monitored rather than prohibited until 1918 when the United States granted Puerto Ricans citizenship. In 1876 Spanish authorities established a red li ght district in San Juan that confined prostitution and required registered prostitutes to carry identification with proof of weekly medical visits.50Regulations and tolerance changed after citizenship was granted, however. No longer an other, Puerto Ricos prostitution policies were altered to reflect the Unit ed States domestic policy. Prostitutes were incarcerated rather than registered, as the United States attempted a transformation of Puerto Rican culture that would make Puerto Ricans morally acceptable as United States citizens. The new repression policie s were justified through an emphasis on the dangers of syphilis to U.S. soldiers. Briggss book is directly about colonialism since she deals with Puerto Rico, which does not have legal status as a nation. Nonetheless, a study of prostitution policies in Puerto Rico is also a study of modern nation building, especially as those policies contribute to the formulation of the United States as a modern nation. The United States enforced Spanish established regulations after 1898, since it viewed Puerto Rico as a c ulturally foreign and inferior territory that did not merit nor require domestic policies. Gender and the Latin American Nation Postcolonial Latin American nations instituted parallel pol icies to create and maintain the ideal society. The above works, whether they refer to Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, or Chile, 49 Guy, 1314. 50 Laura Briggs, Rep roducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 54.


28 consistently describe a family structure with similar gender constructs that insure heterosexuality and relate to the stability of t he nation. That family structure includes a strict sense of domesticity for the feminine gender and a domination of public space and sexuality for the masculine gender. One can see that nations went to great lengths to insure that women remained within the domestic space, and those who strayed from that space were closely monitored. One notes that in Mexico and Argentina the state employed a complex system of control for marginal women prostitutes. From In Defense of Honor one sees how virginity was a prem ise for the establishment of family, as the nation hoped to avoid and prevent a tainting of the family unit. Using the family as a unit of analysis is a significant change in approach to understanding gender. Attempting to write revisionist histories, a s noted before, reinforces the concept of woman as other, even as it is an attempt at being inclusive. A discussion of the family structure, however, allows a discussion of gender and women without offsetting them as others, since the family structur e is central to the nation. Earlier Womens History inadvertently reinforced the notion that politics, and the public space in general, was the only point of significance to the understanding of the nation. In doing so, it perpetuated the distinction betwe en public and private spaces that can now be seen as more fluid than initially proposed. That is to say, these spaces are not exclusive of each other and the family, although traditionally categorized as a private space, has more involvement and affect on public policy than previously noted. It is interesting to note that the historiography has not established this connection even though states clearly did. States employed and devoted priority to policies concerning the stability and maintenance of the fam ily structure. One can see from the documents used to formulate the above studies that national governments were obsessed with the role the family


29 unit supposedly played in the imagined stability of the nation. The family structure, it was imagined, guaran teed the perpetuation of patriotic values in the citizen population, thus contributing to the nations stability. Just as general historiography created strong distinctions between public and private spaces, Womens History created an exclusivity based on distinctions between feminine and masculine gender, and the female and male sex. By focusing on the feminine gender exclusively, Womens History undeniably overlooked the connection between gender and state as a dynamic interaction, rather than a reactiona ry one. A discussion of the nation through gender shows that the construction and maintenance of the nation is politically neutral. That is to say, gender and social constructs often transfer from one political position to another with minimal, if any, alt erations. One can see this from Katherine Blisss discussion of Mexico in Compromised Positions where gender constructs remain, in application, intact from the Porfirian state to the revolutionary state. Therefore, it can be noted that gender constructs ar e maintained so long as they perpetuate stability and national interests. Even if the rhetoric is different, the concept of the nation as progressive and modern has to be reconciled with the function of gender roles. As Donna Guy discusses in Sex and Dange r in Buenos Aires the perception of the prostitute in Argentina was altered depending on what the state found necessary to attack or protect at a particular point in its development. Thus, when homophobia spread throughout Argentina, the state turned to t he prostitute as a means of preventing a possible dissolution of the family structure since homosexuality was perceived as a threat to heterosexuality and consequently a bigger threat to the creation of families. Guys Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires is s ignificant because it points to the possibility of tracing authoritarianism to the policing of sexuality. Ultimately, the study challenges the notion that the nation is best understood by examining institutions such as the military, national


30 elections, an d dictatorship.51 The historiography of gender vacillates between attempts to displace state related myths concerning women, and thereby inse rting women into a political discussion, and those that aim to understand, rather than alter, the connection between gender and state. What is noticeable is that the former approach, as exemplified by studies like Hidden Histories of Gender and the State i n Latin America is not quite effective at changing current gender constructs, which is its direct aim. Rather the latter approach, like that of Donna Guy in Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires proves to be more effective at understanding the creation and perp etuation of gender constructs and therefore more adept at changing them. Gender or womens studies is then not a matter of discovery and recovery of womens (political) activism or of revising history to insert female heroes but rather of understanding gender and the state as a set of practices and policies aimed at defining family and nation. Guys influence is visible in Katherine Blisss discussion of Mexico, which further complicates and advances the discussion of nation and gender. It does so by pointing out the authoritarian features that were consistent during the Porfir ian state and the revolutionary and post revolutionary period, even as the latter tried to differentiate itself from the former. 51 Guy, 209.


31 CHAPTER 2 PROSTITUTION AND THE NATION Major settlement of the Costa Rican Central Valley, particularly of San Jos, Heredia, and Alajuela1, began in the eighteenth century, with San Jos quickly outgrowing Heredia and Alajuela because of tobacco production. In 1800, 80 percent of Costa Ricas 50,000 people lived in the Central Valley in the cities of San Jos, Heredia, Alajuela, or Cartago.2 The economy of the Centr al Valley in the early nineteenth century was based on peasant production, essentially devoid of servitudeand ethnically and culturally integrated.3While the coffee boom consolidated the economic power of the coffee producing families in the Central Valley, it also fueled power struggles between the four major citi es of Cartago, Alajuela, Heredia, and San Jos, with San Jos eventually consolidating leadership. The birth of the Costa Rican Republic in 1848 combined with the leadership of the privileged coffee elite to establish the nations path of Liberalism. After a series of military conflicts during 1850s and 60s, the implementation of practices that consolidated the creation of a modern State and society was initiated by a series of Liberal Reforms in the 1880s. Civil and penal codes were enacted with an emphasi s on the centralization of the State. A primary education system was created as Catholic traditions related to sin, marriage, and death were generally believed in the area. The indepen dence of Central America from Spanish colonial authority in 1821 changed Costa Ricas trading practices by opening up to a large market of international trade and investment. The coffee boom of the 1840s was partly due to the availability of foreign credit that facilitated the change of agriculture into capitalist enterprise and wage labor. 1 Heredia was founded in 1706, San Jos in 1736, and Alajuela in 1782. 2 Ivn Molina and Steven Palmer, The Hist ory of Costa Rica: Brief, Upto Date and Illustrated (San Jos: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2006), 44. 3 Molina, 47.


32 well as regulations related to science and hygiene. Prostitution regulations were one set of practices that were included in the changing civil and penal codes. Latin American Studies is plagued by unending attempts to explain the political and economic instability and failure of the region. The emphasis on the number of revolutions, coups, and dictatorships is buttressed by the constant comparison to the United States and Eu rope. Dependency theory uses the relationship between Latin America and the United States and Europe to explain the perceived failure of Latin Americas development. Prior to dependency theory, Latin American backwardness was explained in terms of a stubbo rn feudalism and a lackluster modernization of the region. Dependency theory, however, looked to the United States and Europes negative effects on the region, which was understood as an export periphery of the industrialized centers.4 Frequently, La tin America has been studied in terms of its failure to modernize or in terms of its marginalization in the global economy. Notably, both the modernization and dependency perspectives explicitly or implicitly adopt the central idea of failure and the com parison with the United States. The idea of progress in this case refers to a particular economic and political development that is a reflection of the United States. Costa Rica is traditionally treated as an anomaly and exception in Latin America becaus e of the seeming lack of political and economic turmoil. It holds a marginal place in Latin American studies because it does not fit the tradition of failure that many scholars and commentators equate with the region, 5 4 Harry E. Vanden and Gary Prevost, Politics of Latin America: The Power Game (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 159160. as justified by Costa Ricas brief experiences with dictatorships. The focus on the lack of political turmoil that qualifies Costa Ricas exceptionalism, however, is misleading as it fails 5 Jorge Caizares Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the EighteenthCentury Atlantic World. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001).


33 to account for the otherwise similar development it shares with other Latin American nations. This fo cus merely inverts the false stereotype of Latin American failure, which in turn is based on a spurious comparison with the United States. Costa Ricas prostitution laws are one aspect of Costa Rican national practices that reflect the nations commonal ities with the region, thus helping to further undermine the myth of Costa Rican exceptionalism, but also perhaps the regional myth of failure. In the same vein, Womens Studies focus on revising history to account for womens activity in the public s phere, particularly in political movements, deters us from understanding the conditions that allowed for womens exclusion. The effectiveness of such an approach has been critiqued for reinforcing and perpetuating womens status as an other within the pu blic sphere. Scholars like Donna Guy and Katherine Bliss explore government institutions that documented womens activities, even if inglorious. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Latin America are characterized by developing nations that focus on the creation of standard social values. Pioneers in such an approach, Guy and Bliss examine the state control of prostitution and the close links between the family structure and the nation, i.e. private and public spheres. Prostitution and the Imagined Community The definition of a particular nationalism proves to be divergent and transformative, depending on the necessities of the nation as a forcefully cohesive structure. In Argentina, prostitutes were at times labeled patriotic, and at othe r times relegated to corrupt imports from the European world. The seeming inevitability of prostitution was largely justified and


34 rationalized through old Catholic practices inherited from Spain.6 In the late nineteenth century, modernization included publi c health reform, as well as the politicization of sexual behavior. Such rationalization implied that, while prostitution could not be eliminated, it could be regulated through a number of practices that simultaneously proved a nations modernization through its adherence to contemporary scientific and cultural trends. 7 The focus on scientific progress during the late 1890s led to the labeling of prostitution as a social ill rather than a crime. While the concern with venereal disease was not new to the period, because of scientific changes coupled with nation building efforts, it could finally be practically monitored through see mingly logical, though perhaps unethical, methods. Nations like Argentina, Mexico, and Costa Rica demonstrated their modernization trends through the implementation of public health reform. This reform included the curtailment of venereal disease through prostitution regulations, and these regulations further allowed governments to intervene in the determination of appropriate sexual behavior. Prostitutes were marginalized as outsiders, be they as a corrupting foreign influence, as in Argentina, or simply a s unhealthy elements of bourgeois national society, as in Costa Rica. 8 6 Although not directly sanctioned by the Catholi c Church, religious figures like St. Thomas Aquinas defended prostitution as a barrier to what was considered worse dangers, such as homosexuality. This belief was inherited by Catholic nations, be they of Spanish or Portuguese colonial heritage. Such an approach allowed for the possibility of curi ng such ills accompanied with hopes, based on scientific processes, of eliminating prostitution altogether. The control of marginal members of society, e.g. prostitutes, allowed for an indirect control of publicly recognized members of the nation. Key mem bers of the imagined community of the 7 Bliss, Compromised Positions 12 14. 8 Rodriguez, Civilizing Argentina 37 40. The 1878 International Penitentiary Conference in Stockholm influenced nations like Argentina who attended and adopted changing European concerning criminal legislation. There existe d a predominant focus on the creation of a national scientific infrastructure that could identify, diagnose, and address social ills.


35 nation were husband, wife, and mother. These subjectivities were essential to the makeup of the bourgeois family that, as Guy, Katherine, and Hunefeldt discuss,9The st ability of the nation was thought to be reflected in the stability or instability of the family. Heightened concern with public morality in the mid -nineteenth century reflected this thinking. The public, be it through denunciations against prostitution, as in Costa Rica, or as reflected in marital court cases in Peru, often enforced the fulfillment of state -sanctioned gender roles. was central to maintaining national order. 10 Economic developments in mid -nineteenth century Peru created a class of nouveau riches who were deeply concerned with social appearances.11The study of the nation through gender brings into question the notion that liberal states in Latin America introd uced Order and Progress. This implied more social pressure for women to conform to moral standards, as well as for men to play the role of breadwinner. 12 9 In particular, one should note Hunefeldts Liberalism in the Bedroom wherein she discusses nineteenthcentury divorce cases in Lima, Peru. The cases demonstrate how changing perceptions of the family and moral values were a reflection of national trends. Instability in the Peruvian nation allowed women to use the bourgeois family in their favor and against their husbands. Rather, the study of gender demonstrates that liberal states instituted a number of practices that contributed to a curtailment of progress in terms of any positive effects on gender relations. Rather than progressing towards fe male emancipation, the adoption of liberalism set high moral standards of domesticity for women. Secularization of the state placed more direct power in male hands as the head of the bourgeois family unit. Thus, 10 Hunefeldt, 315346. 11 Hunefeldt, 316. 12 Elizabeth Dore argues that liberalism produced a sort of retrograde progress in terms of gender equality, as legal reforms showed an increasingly repressive attitude towards women. Thus, liberal state policie s did not contribute to progress in this sense, as proper behavior was established and defined through state policies that affected married and single women of all classes.


36 rather than the Catholic Church yielding control over acceptable female behavior, individual men, backed by the state, were given the responsibility. Overall, the state replaced the Church as the institution responsible for establishing and maintaining social order. State -implemented practices were key to maintaining an imagined community that rested on the normalization of certain gender roles. Secularization was one aspect that implied Order and Progress, which can now be understood as a fundamental myth in the formation of the modern Latin Amer ican nation.13One of these contaminants or infections of the national body was venereal disease. The spread and occurrence of venereal disease was blamed on prostitution, whose prevalence reflected negatively on national society, as it implied the extent of corruptio n of the nations women. The bourgeois family structure was imagined to be central to the maintenance of the modern nation, and as such womens prime role in the domestic space was carefully institutionalized, normalized, and guarded through state policies Marginalized women like prostitutes cemented the recognized female subjectivities of wife, and mother by serving as an example of all that is considered corrupted and undesirable in a woman and in the nation. This semblance of Order and Progress was achieved through the implementation of practices based on scientific developments. The nation was typically viewed as an organic entity and being whose body could be dangerously infected and fall ill Prostitution regulations were one way th e state institutionalized female subjectivities that were ultimately identified as proper and desirable for national society. Through the marginalization of 13 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Sprea d of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991). The modern nation is founded on a particular set of nationally accepted myths. The idea that a secular state leads to and is representative of Order and Progress is one of these myths. Liberalism was a central poin t of discussion for the idea of progress and newly independent Latin American nations in the nineteenth century pointed to it as validation for their modernity.


37 prostitutes, the acceptable female subjectivity was formed.14In spite of the deep separation between private and public spheres, cemented during the nineteenth century, the nations imagined community was equally dependent on both to function. During the late nineteenth century, fe male prostitutes were seen as women who failed to fulfill their duty to the nation as child bearers. Their lack of contribution to national reproduction was made worse by the fact that they were identified as the agents of venereal disease, which ruined the households of married men. 15 The adoption of liberalism in Latin Amer ica was a tool in the building of Peru, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Its effect as a tool, rather than a determining characteristic of nations, is what allows the comparative study of these national histories across political developments. Political systems prove to be fluid, as Argentinas case prominently shows. Prostitution regulations were altered for the benefit of maintaining order within the nation. Prostitution regulations are not necessarily signals of authoritarian politics but rather of the expansi ve process that is nation building. The study of such regulations provides insight into the development of the Argentine nation although it may not, contrary to Donna Guys claim, necessarily serve as a foreshadowing of its authoritarian politics.16 14 The marginalization of prostitutes essentially took the place of the other to the proper female subjectivities of wife and mother. The bourgeois family could be efficiently delineated unless the subjectivities outside of it were sufficiently defined. Argenti nas initial regulations created an other based on the concept of white slavery, where the origins of prostitution could be traced outside of Argentina, and therefore not identified as inherent to its foundation. Moreover, and under 15 As Joan W. Scott notes, in Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis politic s constructs gender and gender constructs politics. From this notion, one takes women as a category traditionally relegated to virtual existence outside of the function of the state for its identification with the domestic realm. As Scott initiates, howe ver, women and by implication the family, have been ignored as direct reflections of the nation. 16 The history of legalized prostitution suggests that the roots of authoritarian behavior are found in gendered structures within democratic societies, n ot just within the overtly antidemocratic military. Guy, 208 209.


38 bourgeois or libera l patriarchy, the policing of gender and sex is normal to less authoritarian, or more democratic states as well. Managing Prostitution The management of prostitution through state institutions in Latin America follows similar patterns and approaches. A s modern nations, newly independent throughout the nineteenth century, Latin America inherited prostitution practices from a Catholic tradition. Recognized by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas as repugnant but necessary, they argued that it prevente d practices like homosexuality. For the modern nation, however, the management of prostitution was more than about preventing homosexuality. It was part of subject formations central to the maintenance of the family infrastructure of the modern nation. Pro stitution laws were one way that public attitudes and actions could be normalized. The prostitute, whether under legalized prostitution or not, was a marginalized figure that served as an example of that which stood outside the nations bourgeois family in frastructure. The process of marginalization is not only about exclusion, however, as an inclusionary space is simultaneously created. The bourgeois family was established through a process that included defining spaces through exclusionary practices, su ch as prostitution laws. Domesticity was associated with appropriate and productive social behavior. Women who engaged in domestic work were considered essential to the development of the nation, as they played a key role in the lives of future generations The rejection of domesticity, and through association of childbearing and rearing, was seen as a direct refusal to contribute to the nations development. The prostitute outwardly rejected domestic behavior and deterred from the civilizing goals of t he nation. Even as the prostitute was denounced as a threat to proper family and domestic life, she proved to be essential in defining and identifying the boundaries of the family. The mother and


39 wife subjects were identified by the things they did not do, such as not being outdoors after dark or talking with a number of men. In this manner, the prostitute, as a marginal figure, served the modern nation in its early attempts to establish an ordered society. The management of prostitution through legal practices such as registration and weekly medical examinations were not, once again, signs of future authoritarian politics but rather essential components in the development of the modern Latin American nation. Costa Ricas National Narrative Costa R icas foundational myths include liberal practices and a long history of democracy, wherein authoritarianism is an insignificant detail, especially in comparison to other Latin American nations. Democracy is a strong myth that has continuously been rationa lized and explained by myths about Costa Ricas population from early colonial settlement to independence and beyond. The image of the poor white settler capable of creating a liberal and democratic society was made possible through the fictional eliminati on of a Costa Rican indigenous population. Not unlike the exceptionalist Anglo-American narrative of the yeoman farmer or pioneer, the Costa Rican narrative is based on the notion of a rural democracy created by poor farmers who had to conquer the land without much Spanish help. Historically, Costa Rican intellectuals17 17 Edelman, 912. The work of Carlos Monge Alfaro in Historia de Costa Rica reflects the national adherence to the notion that the strength of Costa Rican democracy during the second half of the twentieth century is due to colonial experience characterized by isolation and extreme poverty, where there were no despotic officials and social classes or castes did not arise. As leaders of Costa Ricas academic institution, figures like M onge Alfaro perpetuated this Costa Rican myth well in the late twentieth century. focused on this myth and viewed the brief lapses into authoritarianism as events that solidified, rather than deteriorated, the nations adherence to and love of democratic practices. The idea of the Latin American criollo was rejected by intellectuals as the tie to Spain was only loosely recognized as an independent Costa Rican


40 yeoman farmer was created as the central figure for the nations political, social, economic, and cultural hi story.18Costa Rica began to imagine its community on exceptionalist terms from early in its development. The concept of Costa Rica being the Switzerland of the Americas did not emerge from economic tourism developments of the latter half of the twentiet h century but from an earlier, self -created vision. Public school essays from the late 1880s document how young students wrote of the Suiza de las Amricas 19 The myth of the nation as exceptional was planned and future generations were socialized through the education system so as to perpetuate that myth. In 1887, the true Costa Rican patriot was identified by education rather than military utility.20 These practices included prostitution regulations and laws. Defining Costa Rican cit izens relied on the definition of an internal other rather than a foreign one, which was a more predominant concern in Argentina. As Guy notes, the Argentine elites concern with white slavery and the perceived impacts allowed elites to look outside of i ts own national borders to explain faults within the nation. After attempts at eliminating prostitution by criminalizing it, Costa Rica readily gave in to the notion of an evil but necessary vice. Initial attempts to curtail prostitution required a Casa de Reclusin meant for the rehabilitation of prostitutes into Costa Rican youth were taught to define the ideal citizen as male, but characterized by the lack of a viol ent military role. Female Costa Rican citizens were not formally defined within the education system, but rather through practices that established proper domestic roles. 18 Carlos Monge Alfaro, The Development of the Central Valley in The Costa Rica Reader ed. Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989), 912. 19 Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica (ANCR), Ministerio de Educacin Publica 004432. The Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica will be abbreviated on ANCR from hereon. Immediately following is listed the government administration or department in which the document was create d. The number is the folder in which it is kept at the Archives. 20 ANCR, Educacin 8063.


41 acceptable members of society. Proper behavior implied that women engaged in domestic activities, which were not delineated in government documents despite constant referencing. Prostitution discourse in Costa Rica did not follow the exceptionalist schema of the nations master narrative. While the narrative of cultural and economic exceptionalism remained, prostitution was a point that had to be rationalized so as not to discredit the nation with a negative exceptionalist quality. So while Costa Rica could term itself as the Suiza de las Amricas it could not include prostitution as a particularity of the nation. Rather, prostitution, in spite of all its negative qualities, served as a sign for Costa Ricas similarity to other modern nations, including the United States and France. In hopes of progressing in the same direction as the other advanced nations,21Prostitution and the Latin American National Narrative Costa Rica acted under the optimistic perception that prostitution was a condition of the uneducated class and as such could be corrected. Unlike Argentina, Costa Rica perceived prostitution as a national domestic problem. A brief comparison of public health policies toward women in Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru further credits the notion that authoritarian22 21 ANCR, Congreso 6073, Congreso 8973. Costa Rican government documents make mention of Germany, England, and the United States as models for modern civilizations that could be followed by a young and hopeful nation like Costa Rica in the 1860s. policies are normally found within national and democratic societies. Studying the history of legalized prostitution in Latin America moves beyond gender issues or auth oritarianism and encompasses the normal development of the modern nation, and it suggests that anti democratic practices are at its 22 Authoritarianism policies referring to state initiated legal practices that may or may not be approved by public participation in legislation, but rather by oligarchic or dic tatorial rule. Democratic societies meaning in this case Republican systems like that of Costa Rica. Anti democratic practices here refer to policies that are initiated by the government but that egalitarian treatment of members of society.


42 foundation. Thus, the normal modernization process of nation -building included repressive public health reform in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Costa Rica. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century Argentine prostitution records are careful to note the predominance of foreign-born prostitutes in Buenos Aires. That prostitutes were identified as non-Argentine in sources v ouched well for the developing nation. Prostitution contributed to one of Argentinas foundational myths by simultaneously alluding to the white makeup of the nation and transposing the negative aspects of prostitution to an outside origin. It also proved to be a fairly flexible subject, whose discourse could be altered and shifted as needed. For Argentina, the threat prostitutes posed to the bourgeois family shifted as perceived national concerns focused on the dangers of homosexuality. Catholic thought23 a rgued that prostitution protected males from falling into the perils of homosexuality. In Argentina, the abolition of legalized prostitution, as well as efforts to legalize it once again during 1950s, involved movements towards maintaining the desired bour geois family structure of modern nations.24 Here prostitutes were either dangerous women or patriotic prostitutes25 depending on the moment. Initially threatening to the formation of a stable bourgeois family structure during the late nineteenth and earl y twentieth century, prostitution was heavily regulated which served to, when not criminalized, create enough barriers to limit the number of legally registered prostitutes.26 23 Not officially sanctioned by the Church, but as previously discussed, but by figures like St. Thomas Aquinas. 24 During the 1950s, the threat prostitutes posed to the unity of the family structure was outweighed by the threat of homosexuality. Perceived increase in hom osexuality was attributed to the lack of sexual outlets for heterosexual men. Once again, the Catholic idea that prostitution prevented homosexuality resurfaced. 25 Guy, 3776, 180204. 26 Clandestine prostitution in Argentina was pervasive regardless of i ts legality or number of regulations. The official registration provided, if nothing else, a semblance of control.


43 In Mexico, the registration, inspection, and surveillance of prostitutes was ba sed on the modern science of hygiene.27 A comparison with Mexicos prostitution regulations during the Porfiriato and during the Revolutionary period suggests that bourgeois gender relations were maintained in the modern Latin American nation, regardless o f political discourse. Political discourse of Revolutionary Mexico included the continuing regulation of prostitution but with clear and defined goals of eventually ending womens participation in sexual commerce. In an effort to distinguish itself from th e Porfiriato, Mexicos revolutionary rhetoric included seemingly more effective prostitution policies. Not surprisingly, this rhetoric coincided with early twentieth century changes in the concern with, and approach to, the seemingly universal prostitution problem. The Porfiriato had followed suit with late nineteenth century prostitution regulations that included medical examinations, but did not make institutional changes for the eventual elimination of sexual commerce. It rather subscribed to the notion of a necessary but evil vice to prevent the male population from engaging in publicly acknowledged worse practices, like homosexuality. In the name of the Revolution, schools to reform prostitutes, zonas de tolerancia and venereal disease clinics were established. In Revolutionary Mexico, the nations prostitution problem was attributed to the Porfiriato regime that created and allowed the deterioration of public morality.28 27 Bliss, 2. The ideas of what constituted public morality, however, were not drastically d ifferent from previous bourgeois ideals. Rather, gender roles for proper female and male sexual and domestic behavior continued to be adhered to during the Revolutionary period. 28 Note that Revolutionary Mexico did not divert domestic blame for prostitution (as Argentina did with white slavery), but beca use of the change in political system, it could safely blame the Porfiriato for the nations past problems. The nation, as an ideal, continues to be blameless and, in Mexicos case, political leaders and their mistakes were definitively differentiated from the Nation.


44 Reform of sexual commerce in revolutionary Mexico City was founded on changing female sexual behaviors through medical and educational institutions. Sexual commerce, while its rampant spread was publicly blamed on the Porfiriato, was at its core blamed on women as the presumed weaker sex. The reform process mainly included instituti ons that would contribute to changes in female behavior, without any institutions aimed at changing male sexual behavior, particularly promiscuity. By the 1920s, hygienists in Mexico City attributed promiscuity to natural male behavior.29 The revolutionar y government formally addressed male promiscuity when children were affected by venereal diseases, as it reflected on and affected future Mexican generations. Mexico recognized the home as the most solid bastion of nationalism[as the] home, birthplace of patriots, of men of action, of men of ideals.30In Lima, Peru, divorce cases show how gender roles could be manipulated with certain advantages. Hunefeldt notes that women inevitably managed economic affairs in their homes, in spite of it being a prescrib ed male responsibility. 31 29 In keeping with bourgeois ideas of natural (gender specific) behavior, men were also naturally inclined to work or hard labor, just as women were naturally inclined to motherhood as part of their natural abilities as nurturers. The actual management of money, however, did not liberate either women or men from social responsibilities to their respective gender roles. The power of gender roles was reflected in arguments presented in court. Wives accused hus bands of unpatriotic actions as they failed to fulfill their roles of breadwinners. If a wife was mishandling money it was attributed to a husbands failing to do so instead. After all, womens socially accepted role did not include outright economic invol vement, even at the domestic level. 30 Bliss, 212. Legalized prostitution was abolished in 1939, but the rate of new syphilis cases did not decrease. By 1945, rates of syphilis infections had not decreased and availability of penicillin decreased the concern with syphilis. Claims of protecting the ho me through the regulation of abolishment of prostitution fell short, as the negative influences on the home, such as syphilis infections, were not eliminated or decreased. As the bastion of nationalism the home continued to suffer and the Mexican state c ontinued to struggle with the tension between prostitution, motherhood, and state policy. 31 Women were involved in the economic affairs of the home either through the distribution of male earned income or of female income contributions, such as dowries.


45 Hunefeldt explores marital court cases to understand how the cultural and related legal practices attempted to institute the bourgeois family infrastructure of the imagined Peruvian nation. Marital dispute cases show the changing discourse that resulted from the institutionalization of liberal ideas and its effect on everyday Peruvian life. Neighbors were enforcers of gender roles as they contributed to the restraint of abusive husbands and adulterous wives.32 During the m id to late nineteenth century women, on the claims that their husbands were not fulfilling their roles as the male breadwinner, often initiated marital court cases. Under this pretext, it was hoped that husbands would be discredited for not fulfilling thei r role in marriage and family. Along these same lines, women employed outside their homes, regardless of necessity, could be morally discredited in court since they were believed to be naturally inclined to promiscuous behavior.33The second half of the nineteenth century in Peru was characterized by the rise of liberalism. As socioeconomic conditions forced both husbands and wives to provide income at the middle to lower class levels, gender roles were increasingly distinguished by morality. If through necessity women were to contribute to the family income, gender roles were to be defined primarily by morality. Women were held to high standards of public morality that were characterized by virtuous behavior free from the vices attributed to men, such as drunkenness and violence. On a more general scale, womens public activities were limited, seeing as their primary acceptable role wa s in the home. As the weaker sex women working outside of the home were seen as susceptible to immoral behavior and doomed to engage in promiscuous Thus, official gender ro les were recognized and subscribed to regardless of their application or fulfillment in actuality. 32 Hunefeldt, 177. 33 Hunefeldt, 326.


46 activities. Public interaction between women and men was strictly limited, and any seemingly inappropriate behavior34 While the chronology of implementation varies from nation to nation, all attempted to apply the same scientific practices directed at expunging improper sexual and domestic behavior. Costa Ricas self -generated image as the Suiza de las Amricas did not exclude it from the prevalent fear of syphilis that existed on an international scale. Fema le prostitutes were blamed for the spread of syphilis, allowing officials to scientifically justify prostitution regulations on extra -moral grounds. Such scientific reasoning added to a nations prestige as modern. As publicly recognized sources of the much condemned syphilis infection, the regulation of prostitution, be it through its criminalization or through its decriminalization with restrictions, allowed for a modern and scientific regulation of social mores. was incriminating and practically irreversibly damaging to a womans public morality and by implication her credibility with official state authorities. The social mores created through such practices and policies were fundamental to modern nation building. Costa Rica waged a war against prostitution using approaches that were neither exceptional nor particular to Costa Rica. That is to say, Costa Ricas records show that the initial optimist ic approach of rehabilitation was soon abandoned as prostitution continued to thrive in San Jos in the 1880s. Modernization included a reliance on science as progressive and helpful in establishing a modern national civilization with international relevan ce. Mid nineteenth century Costa Rican congressmen were persistent in their comparisons with non -Latin American spheres, as they looked to the United States and Europe for examples of civilization and modern nationhood. While the United States was one mo del of modernity for Costa Rica in 34 Inappropriate behavior ranged from having male visitors after dark to frequent conversations with male customers at restaurants. Marital dispute cases in Lima, Peru often involved husbands accusations of unvirtuous behavior exhibited by their wives conversations with other males. In Costa Rica, prostitution cases show denunciations against women as prostitutes for speaking or walking with men after dark outside of their homes.


47 the late nineteenth century, it was not particularly followed in terms of its prostitution practices and policies. It was useful as a point of reference for Costa Rica in that it served as further proof that all modern na tions experienced a prostitution problem, thus disassociating prostitution with lack of progress or modernity.35 The study of Costa Rican prostitution law s and anti -prostitution practices unifies, rather than diversifies, the experience of the modern nation. While there may be a desire to follow past laws in an effort to understand particularities of nations, the comparison of Costa Rica implies that the re lationship between such policing and authoritarianism is more tenuous than previously believed. Prostitution laws implied something other than the foreshadowing of authoritarianism, as Costa Ricas development into a singular relatively stable democracy in the region suggests. Finally, it is important to note that while the Costa Rican example breaks the imagined link between authoritarianism and the medicalized policing of sexuality argued by Donna Guy and Julia Rodriguez for Argentina, it also undermines the traditional scholarly perception of Costa Rican exceptionalism. In such a manner, Costa Rican elites were further able to self fashion themselves as a modern nation. 35 ANCR, Congreso 6073.


48 CHAPTER 3 COSTA RICA AND PROST ITUTION The bourgeois woman was a mother, above all things, and her contribution to the nation was found in the inculcation of proper morals to her children as the future citizens of the nation. At her best, woman was defined as a wife and mother, which implied monogamy and birthing/raising children. The characteristic practice of monogamy could oftentimes save women from the prostitute label, as a nu mber of Costa Rican prostitution cases throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries verify. Monogamy was prioritized above legal marriage, as it did not entirely negate the bourgeois family structure. Thus, unmarried women living with one man were not prosecuted as prostitutes.1Venereal disease played a major role in the defense and implementation of prostitution regulations. Prostitutes were both the carriers and spreaders of venereal disease and culpable in the infection the family through men Men were not held responsible for preserving the health of the family, seeing as they belonged to the family structure, unlike prostitutes stood outside of it. Prostitutes could be safely blamed without tainting the family structure, preserving its unity In this manner, domestic discord was diverted outside of the family and, by implication, of the nation as well. As an imagined community the modern nation relies on inclusive practices that are at the same time exclusive. Such practices underline the significance attributed to the bourgeois family structure. Women having consensual relationships with one man were forgiven (or tolerated) because they were not seen as a further cause of the spread of venereal diseases. 2 1 Guy, 79. In Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires Guy notes how police in Argentina were instructed not to harass women known to have consensual relationships with one man. Much like bourgeois female su bjectivities, which were formulated in contrast to marginal figures like the prostitute, the idea of the Costa Rican (vs. 2 Anderson.


49 the un-Costa Rican) was formulated on the abstract idea of nationality. An internal but unCosta Rican prostitution was identifi ed as a threat to society and the nation. It was a vice that negatively reflected on the morals of national society and impeded the productive development of citizens. Women engaging in prostitution were not dedicating themselves to domestic service, and thus a multitude of capable women stroll the streets and do not engage in a useful profession.3Thus, rather than define domestic activities, government departments chose to define what was not accepted as domestic behavior or activity. The figure of t he prostitute was central to this indirect definition through opposition. The prostitute, and her actions, was set as an example of unacceptable or un Costa Rican behavior. In terms of disciplinary activities, Costa Rican elites envisioned themselves as a civilized, modern nation. Initiated as a civilized rehabilitation system, Costa Ricas approach to prostitution aimed to function alongside its education system to combat and ultimately eliminate prostitution within the nation. The government rhetoric underlying this approach was that proper education would train women as to their proper place, either in the home or, if necessary, in schools as teachers. Managing Prostitution: Early Efforts The discourse on prostitution in Costa Rica is established durin g the 1830s and expanded thereafter. Like most Latin American nations in the nineteenth century, Costa Rica followed the Spanish Catholic heritage of regarding prostitution as a necessary evil. During the 1830s, however, legislators proposed increased re gulation of prostitution in efforts to advance Costa Rican civilization. A casa de reclusin para mujeres, or house for confinement, was proposed in order to resolve the grave dangers caused by prostitution due to its relation to venereal 3 ANCR, Congreso 7318. el multitud de mujeres aptas para ello pasean las calles y v iven sin saberse el oficio til profesin.


50 disease.4 Cong ress discussed the creation of an official Casa de Reclusin as early as the 1830s, but its establishment was delayed due to a lack of public funds needed to build the space.5 While the concern for prostitution can be noted during the 1830s, and in 1841 wi th a penal code6Throughout the 1860s, the goal of Costa Rican elites was to progress on the same path as las Naciones mas adelantadas. that increased attention to prostitution through ambiguous regulations, it is not until the 1860s that Costa Ricas concern for progress and civilization takes a more prominent role in congressional debates and is reflected in changes in the policing of prostitution. 7 Part of this path towards progress included the establishment of a system of morals that the nation set out to enforce. Prostitution was acknowledged as a vice but was also accepted as inevitable.8Costa Ricas national representatives engaged in serious discussions over the control of prostitution, and they sought to establish a casa de reclusin for women as early as July of 1836. The recognition of its inevitability did not imply that it should not be contained, however. Instead, the Costa Rican government thought that the monitoring of prostitution was the most effective way to deal with the social vice, as noted by the Reglamento de Prostitucin and Ley de Profilaxis Venrea in 1894. 9 Prior to the establishment of the casa de reclusion, prostitutes were sent to Valle de Matina for punishment.10 4 ANCR. Congreso 001554. graves males que causa la prostitucin por la relacin de las costumbres del mal venreo By December 1837, Congress discussed the public funds necessary to 5 ANCR. Congreso 4054. 6 ANCR. Congreso 6073. The Penal Code of 1841 promoted punishment more so than rehabilitation. 7 ANCR Congreso 6073. 8 ANCR. Congreso 7318 9 ANCR. Congreso 1867. 10 ANCR. Congreso 3685. Valle de Matina, Talamanca, and Golfo Dulce were remote port cities to which prostitutes were often sent as punishment. Matina was infamous for pirate attacks and sexual trafficking of women.


51 build the casa de reclusin since prior to this resolution the government had resorted to renting out a space.11 While these reformist discussions led to an increasing sense of urgency during the 1850s, the official Casa Nacional de R eclusin de Mujeres was not established until 1863 in San Jos.12 The official Congressional decree proposed for the delinquents to work, study, and engage in religious exercises for their mental improvement and preparation as members of Costa Rican societ y under the principles of Christianity and of advancing civilization.13As part of efforts to establish Costa Rica as a civilized nation, the casa de reclusion was formulated under the notion that modern prisons should not be spectacles of horror and chaos but rather enlightened spaces for moral rehabilitation. Congressional records refer to the Christian values that should be part of the moral rehabilitation of prisoners through repentance. 14 This punishment was meant to be phased out with the establishment of the Casa de Reclusin but it was still common as the most severe punishment if women could not be rehabilitated. The 1863 Congressional resolution established this firs t Casa de Reclusin with the intention of creating similar ones in all the Costa Rican provinces, once funds allowed it. Initially, the police department would be in charge of prosecuting and placing women in the casa de reclusin 11 ANCR. Congreso 4054. 12 ANCR. Congreso 6073. In efforts to follow the examples of other progressive nations, Costa Rica aimed to transform their legal codes to reflect efforts to rehabilitate the population and form citizens who contributed to the progress of the nation and Civilization. During this period, the national approach to prostitution was characterized by rehabilitation with aims to gradually completely eliminate the vice. Rehabilitation consisted of requiring women to work in domestic services, if not within a confined space, such as a casa de reclusin then in private homes with people who agreed to monitor their progress of integration to proper feminine behavior. The Casa de Reclusion, with appropriate funds, was one way of pursuing such goals. 13 ANCR. Congre so 6073. bajo los principios que aconsejan el espritu del cristianismo y los adelantos de la civilizacin 14 ANCR. Congreso 6073. arrepentimiento


52 The purpose of the Casa de Reclusin was officially signaled by articulo 50 del decreto de 28 Septiembre de 1864.15 This law referred to the prosecution and punishment of prostitutes through incarceration in the Casa de Reclusin The Casa de Reclusin had a dual function a s a regular prison. By 1865 there were annual lists of detenidas Women were charged with anything ranging from physical violence to running away from home. The latter charge was related to minors placed in the Casa de Reclusin by parental decision. In addition, husbands could request the arrest of their wives if they failed to fulfill their domestic duties and did not respond to their castigos domsticos .16 The charges against women reflected the growing public concern for proper female behavior according to bourgeois gender constructs. Domestic duties and their fulfillment were of top priority, even though police records do not particularly show a trend of incarceration based on such charges by husbands. Judicial records suggest that prior to the establishment of the official Casa de Reclusin prostitution cases were more fully and formally pursued. Judicial records from 1835 to 1841 include prostitution cases that were settled through the Supreme Court in San Jos. These cases were usually appellations from local courts. After the 1860s, prostitution cases in the Supreme Court were rare occurrences.17 15 ANCR. Gobernacin 4537 It may be speculated that the rarity of prostitution cases at the Supreme Court level near the end of the 16 ANCR. Gobernacin 4537. While these charges are documented in police records, official incarceration of women based on them was not usually approved or enforced. It was expected most women would engage in domestic services, whether within their homes for their husbands, or outside of their homes as maids, for example. It was at the time, one of womens few legal occupations. It can be speculated that angry husbands attempted to use the fulfillment of domestic duties against unruly wives or to try and solve domestic disputes. 17 ANCR Jurdicos Corte Suprema de Justicia 2318 Set of documents dating from May 1835 through September 1841.


53 nineteenth century was a result of the increasingly normalized and accepted bourgeois gender constructs.18During the 1830s and early 1840s, prostitution cases were not as easily resolved, and the accusation against prostitutes often included serious debates. 19for being complicit in prostitution, and charged with having reunions with men and women in deplorable conditions and all a ges, day and night, practicing indecent actions, speaking in obscene terms that would only be appropriate to the shameful practice of prostitution and the most brutal vice of drunkenness. One can see this from the previously referen ced case settled by the Supreme Court. This case revolved around an accusation raised against Soledad Fernndez y Micaela Benavides 20 Like later cases, there were five declarations confirming the cha rges, but unlike later ones, Fernndez and Benavides were initially absolved of the charges, in spite of the testimonies declaring the practice of indecent actions. At the time of this case, the official Casa de Reclusin had yet to be established, and i t was still common practice to send prostitutes to Valle de Matina at the ports of Caldera and Matina as a substitute for incarceration or temporarily as their cases were resolved.21 18 As discussed in Chapter 4, prostitution regulations normalized certain female behaviors and moral conduct. While it was never respectable to be a prostitute, the recognition of prostitution as an off icial trade in 1894 meant women could continue to engage and economically profit from prostitution without fear of incarceration. This might have in turn decreased the desire to pursue appellations against prostitution charges. In addition, the 1894 Profil axis Venrea law standardized the approach to prostitution cases and may have made the process more effective by limiting the number of appellations. After the Casa de Reclusion was established in 1864, however, prostitutes were then housed in San Jos, as the policing of prostitution was increasingly centralized in the capital. 19 ANCR. Jurdicos Corte Suprema de Justicia 2318, Congreso 4054, Congreso 1867 20 ANCR. Jurdicos Corte Su prema de Justicia 2318. por alcahuetas, y los cargos relativos que se les hacen son: que en su casa haban reuniones de hombres y mujeres de todo estado y edad de da y de noche, practicando acciones indecentes, hablndose y contndose palabras obscenas y ejecutndose esos hechos que solo pueden tener cabida en la prostitucin mas vergonzosa y en la incontinencia mas brutal: que haba all embriagarse. 21 ANCR. Congreso 4054, Congreso 1867.


54 Women were placed in the Casa de Reclusin anywhere from four months to two years. The usual imprisonment time for prostitution was four months, on a first offense.22 At times, women charged as prostitutes were allowed a period of between six and eight days to leave their occupation as prostitutes and take up honest work23 as well as present proof of such changes.24 Honest work usually consisted of w orking as servants in a household, especially in the case of lower -class women, which was proved with signed testimony of the employer. Women were accused of being escandalosas y vagas and their behavior was monitored25 once they were free of charges and would be returned to the Casa de Reclusin if found to continue engagement in vagancias or being escandalosas .26 Between the 1850s and the 1870s the charges of vagancia and escndalos were more closely tied to prostitution, and libros de detenidas as well as court cases use these descriptions specifically in reference to prostitutes.27The most common charge was prostitution and in some cases failure to fulfill domestic duties. Failure to fulfill domestic duties was sometimes equated with prostitution because women who engaged in the activity were seen as neglectful of those duties. It was sometimes applied to household servants as well as wives, although it was a more common accusation for the latter. 28 22 ANCR. Gobernacin 4537, 45646. Domestic service was officially recognized a s womens legal occupation, as most employment available to women revolved around domestic service within their homes or outside their homes, 23 algn oficio honesto 24 ANCR. Polica 11821 25 Documents indicate that after incarceration women were likely to be assigned to family homes to assist in domestic duties and their behavior reported on by the male heads of households. 26 ANCR. Gobernacin 4537. 27 ANCR. Congreso 6073, Gobernacin 4537, Gobernacin 40253, Gobernacin 33969, Congreso 4054 28 ANCR. Gobernacin 45646


55 as maids. Thus, the neglect of domestic services was seen as vagrancy on behalf of women and charges could be pr essed on that basis. Domestic duties included an obligation of women to teach their children buenos ejemplos .29 The young Costa Rican nation was dependent on the perpetuation of these buenos ejemplos to develop and establish bourgeois ideals central to the family structure. Cases such as Cristanta Obaress revolved around public doubt concerning a widowed mothers ability to provide good examples to her children, which were easily tainted by neighborhood rumors of her interaction with one particular man. There was information that she cohabitated with Mr. Trinidad Gutierrez and that his small family received bad examples through such conductGutierrezs wife and young son are negatively affected.30 The implication of Gutierrezs wife made this case more alarming, as his cohabitation with Obares also implied that his legal child was not being properly raised within the bourgeois family unit, as his wife confirmed that he rarely slept at home. As prostitution cases accumulated during the 1870s it is noticea ble that women were increasingly restricted to the home through public denunciations that condemned womens roles outside of the home. Since the court could not confirm that she was properly educating her children, it ruled that they would be handed over to people who would undertake their proper education.31There were desperate efforts to control prostitution, as there is an increasing acceptance of the impossibility of its elimination, even through rehabilitation. Thus, there are situations like Sara Ca stro y Leons, in which testimonies confirmed her cohabitation of a house with other women of bad habits, who admit men at all hours and of all ages, thus perverting public 29 ANCR. Gobernacin 36141 30 ANCR. Gobernacin 36141. Ella esta amancebada con el Seor Trinidad Gutirrez y que el tiene familiar pequea que recibe mal ejemplo con esa conductaLa esposa de Gutirrez y su hijito se perjudican. 31 ANCR. Gobernacin 36141. entregados a personas que cuiden de su educacin y vean por ellos, como un buen padre de familia.


56 morality.32 At this point, the Costa Rican court released her under supervision of a Manuel Subirat to observe her conduct and report on her progress towards correcting her conduct. Due to her misconduct, Castro y Leons bail was repealed and she was sentenced to four and half months of appropriate work for her sex in the Casa de Reclu sin She was warned that if she did not show good motivation for work, or if she were disobedient or insubordinate she will be sent to Talamanca or another remote location and serve double the time of her original sentence.33 Castro y Leon caused problems in jail, however, through insubordinate and disobedient actions that provoked similar reactions with the other women in the jail, causing a rupture in discipline.34Managing Prostitution: Legalization of the Trade Consequently, the jail requested her transfer to Talamanca for seven months. Insubordinatio n threatened order within the Casa de Reclusin which was its primary intention. The Casa de Reclusin served as a place of rehabilitation through discipline that transcribed into the normalization of appropriate feminine behaviors. Someone like Castro y Leon threatened the disciplinary purpose of the Casa de Reclusin on both abstract and practical levels. The Costa Rican Congress saw the creation of the Casa de Reclusion as a progressive initiative, but i t was clear by the mid 1890s that it was not a solution to the national prostitution problem, as had been hoped. By 1894, there was a notable increase in frustration with the effectiveness of prostitution laws. Congress recognized prostitution as a univer sal vice throughout Costa Rica, extending from rural to urban sites. There was a move towards changing 32 ANCR. Polica 12419. una casa en compaa de otras mujeres tambin de malas costumbres, admite a todas horas a hombres de toda edad, pervirtiendo de esta manera a la moral 33 de trabajo adecuado a su sexo en la Casa de Reclusin. Advirtesele que si no muestra buena voluntad para el trabajo, si fuera desobediente insubordinada se le enviara a Talamanca u otro punto lejano por el doble del tiempo que le falte para cumplir su condena 34 ANCR. Polica 12419 In reference to Castro y Leons actions: se muestra insubordinada y desobediente y su ocupacin es promo ver escndalos, desorden, y discordias entre las dems detenidas, siendo imposible establecer la disciplina que debe existir en dicha crcel.


57 the approach from complete intolerance of prostitution to accepting its existence as an organismo de todas las naciones.35 As Congressman Joaqun Agui lar argued in 1894, the destruction of prostitution is impossible, prohibition is dangerous, and its neglect is criminal.36Although prostitution was accepted as a universal vice of modern nations, Costa Rica accepted that the judgment of a nation and of her civilizacin was measured by her public customs. Forty years or so of lackluster intolerance through rehabilitation efforts had proven that approach to be ineffective, and shown to produce la sfilis y el venreo rather than prevent them. La mujer pblica or public woman, as prostitutes were commonly referred to in legal documents, was the source of venereal disease, which could be controlled through the close regulation of pr ostitutes. 37 35 ANCR. Congreso 3685. Los grados de la Civilizacin de un pueblo se miden por sus costumbres publicas. Es el vi ci de la juluria idol quien rinden culto desde la ms apartada aldea hasta la ms populosa ciudad. Siendo esto universal las consecuencias la prostitucin son inevitables ya que todos no pueden formar un hogar si lo forman corrida ya la mitad de su vi da, llevan el germen de una generacin sfilica y degenerada. La destruccin de la prostitucin es imposible, prohibirla es peligroso, y descuidarla es criminalla tolerancia sin limites produce funestos resultados para la salud publica y la prohibicin absoluta lleva por medio de la prostitucin clandestina virus venreo hasta lo mas sagrado de la familia: el tlamo conyugal. La Estadstica nos demuestra cuantos estragos producen la sfilis y el venreo cuando se descuida el estado similar de la mujer publ ica. La prostitucin, enfermedad social crnica incurable, una abacera abierta en el organismo de todas la naciones y se necesita un asertorio para curarla. Prior to the Casa de Reclusin it was common practic e for prostitutes to be sent to Matina Talamanca, and Golfo Dulce as punishment, but during the congressional debate of 1894, there was an attempt to move away from these practices. Congressman Joaqun Aguilar further argued that instead of using violent measures, the vice should be regulated as a necessary vice and that absolute intolerance, without inspection by the State, just as absolute 36 la destruccin de la prostitucin es imposible, prohibirla es peligroso, y descuidarla es cri minal 37 por sus costumbres publicas


58 restriction, only produced negative effects.38 In addition, there was a proposal for an establecimiento de manceb as where young women would be under the direction of housewives and thus protected.39Thus began the registration and monitoring of prostitutes by the state, specifically under the Profilaxis Venrea Law. Established on July 28, 1894, the Ley de Prof ilaxis Venrea instituted new prostitution regulations and officially recognized prostitution as a legal trade. 40 The recognition of prostitution as a legal trade was the major difference in the 1894 law, in comparison to laws instituted during the 1860s th at maintained hopes of elimination through punishment. A Department of Hygiene was created, with the main office established in San Jos. In addition to registration and weekly medical examinations, this law instituted that prostitutes live within a certai n neighborhood specifically designated for their habitation. Registered prostitutes had to request approval to be transferred to a different area.41 38 que en vez de tomar medidas al parecer violentas se reglamente ese vicio ya que el constituye un mal social necesario y que la ilimitada tolerancia, sin inspeccin del Estado, lo mismo que la restriccin absoluta solo males producen. In addition, Article 7 of the law mandated that public prostitutes could not live less than two hundred mete rs from schools. The police were allowed to use force if registered prostitutes refused to vacate their 39 ANCR. Congreso 3685. Mancebs can be defined as both brothel and young woman, and it is used in the above document as the latter definition. This part of the proposal was denied. 40 Prostitution as a legal trade gradually c hanged the relationship between prostitutes and authorities, as women were more likely to register in the early twentieth century, perhaps as a result of this change. See Chapter 4 for more detailed discussion. 41 ANCR. Congreso 3685. See also Gobernacin 034009 for example investigation against Pacfica Arguedos Vargas and Rosa Zeledn Vargas because of neighbor complaint of their conductas escandalosas The police confirmed the accusations and in accordance with ley de 28 de Julio de 1894 ordenan las prostitutas que viven en el Rincn de Cabillos de esta ciudad [San Jos], que dentro de diez das cambien de domicilio, debiendo trasladar su residencia un vecindario retirado en que exclusivamente vivan mujeres de tal clase. Both women had to confir m their new residences with the police.


59 domiciles in the vicinity of schools.42 The cases after 1894 follow a basic process including testimonies against prostitutes followed by their registration with the Profilaxis Venrea office.43The legalization of prostitution as a trade reinforced the negative perception of it, especially when the rhetoric continue d to make reference to prostitution as an incurable vice. The official register for prostitutes at the Profilaxis Venrea was called el Registro de las rameras which was a derogatory term for women who engaged in prostitution practices. Such references created a strong sense of shame on behalf of registered prostitutes and documents show that these women pleaded to the courts and the office of Profilaxis Venrea to remove them from the registrar. The case of Francisca Lopez on February 5, 1895 Women were often accused of being prostitutas incubiertas if they were seen to have lived with several different men over a period of years. Women accused of prostitution often rejected the accusations and usually contested them, but the existence of three or more testimonies against them usually guaranteed their classification as prostitutes. 44 42 ANCR. Polica 9492 Articulo 7 de la ley no. 24 de 28 de Julio de 1896 manda: Ninguna prostituta pblica podr vivir menos de 200 metros de los planteles de educacin de asilos de nios de ambos sexos. La pol ica en caso de faltarse esta prevencin, podr usar de la fuerza para que sea cumplido rigurosamente. illustrat es the shame and denial common to those women convicted of prostitution. Lopez was accused by an Italian man named Borjia Natalio and forced to temporarily register with the Profilaxis Venrea office while her case was tried. She responded that she had obs erved good conduct and was ashamed to have her name associated with the prostitution registry at the Profilaxis Venrea especially when the man 43 ANCR. Polica 12407, Polica 11978, Gobernacin 40540, Polica 014435, Polica 14536, Gobernacin 40541, Gobernacin 034009, Polica 6482, Gobernac in 34072. 44 ANCR. Gobernacin 40540 Very detailed case of Francisca Lopez in San Jos. Investigation overseen by Fermn Len Quesada, the Chief of Police of Hygiene in the Department of Profilaxis Venrea


60 who accused her did so out of bitterness from a personal conflict they had.45Denunciations and Registration Natalio denounced her primarily as his concubine, and the office of Profilaxis Venrea initially forced her to register as a prostitute without her testimony, and without witnesses on her behalf. She was acquitted of all charges, however, because the Chief of the office of Profilaxis Ven rea had not followed the regulations set by the Constitution, declaring her a prostitute without previously hearing her testimony. Police records show that men typically accused women of being prostitutes for two major reaso ns, both of which depended on a pre -existing amorous relationship with the accused woman. The accusing man either 1) found out that she engaged in promiscuous behavior and/or 2) that he was infected with a venereal disease, for which she was blamed. The pr eviously mentioned case of Francisca Lopez and Borjia Natalio is not a particularly rare case. An 1896 police book entitled Book of denunciations and declarations against women for vagrancy and prostitution46 45 ANCR. Gobernacin 40540, Francisca Lpez state s : he observado buena conducta y no quiero figurar en el Registro de las rameras ; solo aparecer en la informacin que me refiero me da pena y vergenza, siendo exclusivamente originado tal procedimiento la perversidad de un hombre quien desped de mi casa. is dedicated to listing the details of just ov er one hundred prostitution cases. Unlike the judicial records, these police records note only the final convictions and/or registration cancellations of prostitutes. It should be noted in these cases men accused women without fear of conviction or charges against them. There are cases where married men accused a woman of prostitution because she was not exclusively with that man. A typical charge against women was for living in concubinato con hombres (whether married or single). The second motivation for personal male denunciations against prostitutes was the contraction of venereal disease. For a number of cases, men were infected with gonorrhea and concluded that the woman 46 Libro de denuncias y declaraciones particulares contra mujeres por vagancia y prostitucin


61 they had a relationship with was engaging in promiscuous activity, and was there fore to be classified as a prostitute. The cases show that mens promiscuity was not a topic of discussion and women did not typically use this possibility as a source of defense in court hearings. In the 1890s, cases show that priority was not placed on m arriage, but rather on promiscuity. Women were allowed to cancel their registration as public prostitutes if they cohabitated with only one man. Married men would accuse their wives of prostitution, especially if the women had a history of prostitution. W omens accusations of other women as prostitutes tend to be male and family related. There are cases of abandoned women who accused their husbands lovers of being prostitutes. In such cases, wives accused prostitutes as the reason for their abandonment bu t, more importantly, for the abandonment of their children as well. Most of the cases recorded where women accused their husbands of abandonment included children. As previously mentioned, the topic of youth and future generations was central to the discourse of family and nation. Police records include documentation of prostitutes involved with male minors,47 Engaging with minors proved to increase the severity of punishment, as did engaging with negros a detail that contributed to more severe accusations of the particular prostitute. In spite of the seeming concern with the effect of prostitution on minors, the same police records show the registration of women as young as twelve as prostitutes. 48 47 ANCR. Polica 14536, menores de edad The topic of race is sparingly discussed in congressiona l documents but found more throughout police records. In 1896 Fermina Badilla Herrera requested to be removed from the prostitution registry for retiring from the commerce but a police investigation showed that 48 ANCR. Polica 14536


62 she was living in concubinato with a man an d that she had children from different fathers. This all in addition to doing commerce with her body, even with blacks.49 The police found it necessary to specify when a prostitute engaged with blacks, as can be noted from this case and others50Much like those women who resisted their convictions as prostitutes, there are also cases where women voluntarily declared and registered themselves as prostitutes. where pros titutes engaged negros franceses (black Frenchmen). Thus, police documents imply that it was considered more scandalous for women to prostitute themselves to blacks. 51 One of these cases involved a woman of fourteen years of age who voluntarily registered as a prostitute explaining that she wished to be independent and receive the highest paying male because she did not want to depend on any man.52 49 ANCR. Polica 14536. comercio con su cuerpo, aun con los negros There are few anonymous denunciations, as most are either by angry lovers, scandalized neighbors, or voluntary registration by the prostitutes themselves. The lack of shame or fear in initiating accusations against prostitutes was visible from cases as early as the 1830s, prior to the regulations, and in cases in the 1930s. The sense of righteousness by the public to regulate prostitution was consistently justified through religious and national m orality. In addition there were no repercussions for false accusations. The voluntary registration of women was more threatening to the bourgeois family structure because it implied an outward rejection of bourgeois family values. In such cases there was n o recognizable attempt to conform to bourgeois feminine gender values. 50 ANCR. Polica 14536 cases of Juana Rosa Chacn and Ester Chavarra Mndez. 51 ANCR. Polica 14536. 52 ANCR. Polica 14536. manifestando que ella quiere estar en vida independiente para recibir al hombre que mas plata le d porque ella no quiere depender de ningn hombre


63 Prostitution was identified by a licentious53 lifestyle of liquor, scandal, and inappropriate conversation between women and men at inappropriate hours of the night. Neighbors were es pecially outraged by late night outdoors conversations of the sort if they had children, as they argued that they could not fulfill their duties as parents to enforce morality when prostitutes publicly engaged in immoral activities. There were two categori es of prostitutes as defined by the state public and incubierta. 54 Undercover prostitutes referred to those that were not registered with the Profilaxis Venrea as public prostitutes. Oftentimes suspicions on a womans status were raised because of her in ability to prove how she sustained herself. Maria Mendez Monge was initially inscribed as a public prostitute in 1895, canceled in 1896, and re inscribed in 1897 as a public prostitute. Her re -inscription resulted from male declarations of simultaneously c ohabitating with her. Thus, she was leading a licentious life like any prostitute.55One of the major questions raised in this and other prostitution cases, of which Maria Mendez Monge was no exception, was the issue of how she could sustain herself with no occupation, profession, rent, or wages. She says she engag es in domestic services. A series of witnesses declared and confirmed that she was seen at her house with groups of men with whom she spoke and invited into the private quarters of her home at la te hours of the night. 56 53 ANCR.Judicial 18270. Even though she had declarations in her favor that she engaged in domestic duties and maintained her expenses from honorable work, she was declared a public prostitute and forced to register as one with the Profilaxis Venrea A record as a public prostitute, even if canceled, would make future 54 i.e. Undercover. 55 ANCR. Judicial 18270. una vida licenciosa como cualquiera prostituta. 56 cuando no tiene oficio, profesin, renta, sueldo. Ella dice que trabaja en sus oficios domsticos


64 convictions more likely for the woman. Women with a history of public prostitution were more likely to be convicted and forced to register if future accusations were brought against them. I f a woman had no history of public prostitution, court documents show that lawyers would argue that the public prostitution laws did not apply to those women who were not previously registered with the Profilaxis Venrea as prostitutes.57 By the early 1900s more denunciations were initiated by neighborhood petitions complaining of scandalous activities as carried out by public prostitutes. In 1903 the neighborhood around la Iglesia de la Merced in San Jos petitioned the police on behalf of la buena e ducacin de nuestros hijos 58 57 ANCR. Polica 6497, July 25, 1900 Cas e of Maria Luisa Romn (20 years old) appeals her 30 day sentence for engaging with a minor under 15 years of age. The argument used in her favor was that since she was not registered as a public prostitute with the Profilaxis Venrea, the public prostitut e law could not be applied to her. to take legal action against the prostitutes in the neighborhood by requiring their registration and transfer to another neighborhood. As public denunciations initiated by neighborhoods increased during the 1900s, so did the re sistance of women charged with prostitution. Prostitution cases continued to include testimonies for and against women, but they were increasingly resistant to the actions of the Profilaxis Venrea The efforts of the Profilaxis Venrea to regulate prostit ution since the 1890s contributed to the normalization of bourgeois values, as it also proved the seeming permanence of prostitution. As cases of voluntary registration increased in popularity, these women resisted the imposed restrictions, especially because the requirement to live at least 200 meters from schools made it difficult to find appropriate housing within the city of San Jos. They were more willing to register as prostitutes but once within the system could criticize the degree of restrictions, especially when they were cooperative. 58 ANCR. Polica 3736.


65 A well -documented 1907 court case indicates that Agueda Martnez was accused of being a prostitute and appealed her registration with the office of Profilaxis Venrea accusing the office of abusing its power and sp ying on her.59 In spite of testimonies that confirmed Agueda Martnezs good conduct, authorities insisted on investigations due to rumors of an affair with Jose Vargas, a married man with three children.60Problem s with La Ley de Profilaxis Venrea de 1894 and Venereal Disease Agueda and Vargas also had a child together. The ex tensive documentation of this case may be attributed not to the fact that Agueda Martnez was living the life of a prostitute, but that she was outwardly disturbing the developing bourgeois family structure through her involvement with married men. The growing concern with venereal disease was ultimately justified by the danger it posed to the family unit, also referred to as the nuptial bed,61 in congressional documents. Families w ere being formed with the seeds of syphilis and degeneration,62 59 ANCR. Gobernacin 40736. thus producing a corrupt or degenerate youth. Since the Costa Rican government accepted prostitution as a universal and unavoidable reality and its regulation was an attempt to suppress its effects. Contradictorily, however, regardless of the acceptance of prostitution as an unavoidable and pervasive reality in all modern nations, congressional documents suggest a belief in the temporary regulation of prostitution since its regulation would eventually be unnecessary once Costa Rican citizens were fully socialized. Costa Rican laws to regulate prostitution were altered as the concern with prostitution continued to grow during the 1910s. Laws created in the 1890s proved to be limited in scope a nd the Costa Rican government had to adjust details. 60 ANCR. Gobernacin 40736, The document also mentions other possible lovers named Venacio Monge and Victor Mena. 61 el tlamo conyugal 62 ANCR. Congreso 3685. germen de una generacin sfilica y degenerada


66 In 1914, San Jos seemed to be overcrowded with prostitutes who were released from the Casa de Reclusin63 or from its Annex Hospital. Prostitutes were released from the hospital or Casa de Reclusin wi thout money to return to where they came from, thus remaining in the streets, in deplorable conditions while filling the Capital with women of bad customs.64 Rather than forcing women into abandonment of the trade, the marginalization of prostitutes appears to have increased their numbers and altered the discourse in defense of prostitution. Police records during the 1910s show that women accused of being prostitutes no longer necessarily denied it but responded with a n entitlement of lifestyle unlike that of the previous decades. In 1915, Felicitas Ramrez Barbosa was accused of doing commerce with her body, Congress agreed to appropriate money to pay the train fare for women to return to their respectiv e hometowns away from San Jos. Such a move indicates that prostitution was not successfully progressing towards elimination through its regulation and the development of the educational system. 65 63 Certain documents refer to the Casa de Reclusin as the Crcel de Mujeres as it was believed that she was responsible for infecting several young men with venereal diseases and her prom iscuity classified her as a prostituta incubierta Her defense was that she sexually engaged men because le gustan los hombres and not for business purposes. Prior to the 1910s, the Costa Rican nation identified prostitution as a social problem that re sulted from a lack of progress and education. It was believed that the progress of the nation would contribute to the elimination or reduction of social vices like prostitution. As can be noted from Ramrez Barbosa s case, however, prostitution continued t o be a problem as regulations and legalizations 64 ANCR. Gobernacin 45550. sin ningn dinero para su regreso al lugar de donde han sido enviadas, quedando en consecuencia en nuestras c alles, pasando necesidades a la vez que se va llenando la Capital de mujeres de tan malas costumbres 65 ANCR. Polica 010203, haciendo comercio con sus cuerpo.


67 became outdated with changing notions of sexuality. Cases from the 1890s relied on a defense based on a denial of promiscuity, whereas beginning as early as the 1910s cases relied on altering the view of pros titution as an economic outlet to one that embraced promiscuity to a certain extent. Cases such as Felicitas Ramrez Barbosas are one reflection of the increasing problems Costa Rica began to encounter with its system of prostitution regulation during t he 1910s. As San Jos began to feel the increasing presence of prostitution, it was noted that Profilaxis Venrea offices in other cities were not administrating the prostitution regulations efficiently. Neighborhoods complained about prostitutes living in respectable areas, at times less than two hundred meters from schools.66 There were instances when the Profilaxis Venrea repeatedly sent the prostitutes notifications to evacuate their unapproved residences, only to have other prostitutes establish reside ncy in the same neighborhoods.67The primary Profilaxis Venrea office in San Jos showed organizationa l problems as well as a lack of control of prostitution. Profilaxis Venrea offices in other cities were to report lists of registered prostitutes to the main office in San Jos. In the 1910s, the office of Profilaxis Venrea expressed complaints about off ices in other cities that were not cooperating with registries of prostitutes. It was thought that offices outside of San Jos were not actually registering prostitutes according to guidelines of the Profilaxis Venrea law, if at all. These problems were p artly due to the fact that other cities did not necessarily have official Profilaxis Schools also put in requests to have the prostitutes removed and requested help from the police when the Profilaxis Venrea did not respond effectively. 66 The 1894 Profilaxis Venrea law determined that prostitutes could not live less than two hu ndred meters from schools. 67 ANCR. Gobernacin 45043, Gobernacin 1916.


68 Venrea offices, leaving the enforcement of prostitution registration to the subsection of Hygiene within the local police department.68The primary office of San Jos had problems regardless of the lack of outside office reports, as the growing prostitution numbers overwhelmed an office that had not expanded at the same rate. Registered prostitutes attacked the government and the prostitution laws as understaffing allowed other prostitutes to escape legal regulations. That is to say, registered prostitutes complained of other women living the life of prostitution but not being held accountable, as police and the Profilaxis Venrea failed to enforce the law with all prostitu tes. Registered prostitutes were required to check in with the Profilaxis Venrea every eight days and were under stricter vigilance as a result, and complainedthat the law existed for some but not for others 69The issue of venereal disease continued to be of central importance during the 1910s. T he Costa Rican congress began to note that women were leaving the Casa de Reclusin without actually being cured of venereal diseases, thus continuously exposing the public at large to contamination and defeating the purpose of government regulations. Doct ors released prostitutes without necessarily curing them as there was no law that indicated women were forced to stay beyond the period determined by the appointed doctor. In 1914, separate neighborhoods were designated for prostitutes. As a result of protests from registered pro stitutes, there was a move towards allowing the forced registration of women suspected of being prostitutes without the traditional court trials familiar to the 1890s. 70 68 ANCR. Gobernacin 45043. By 1917, Congress took note of the situation and initiated a series of 69 ANCR. Gobernacin 45043. se encuentran por este mismo hecho bajo una vigilancia ms estricta, y se quejanque la ley existe para las unas y no para las otras 70 ANCR. Secretaria de Fomento 005584.


69 discussions.71 Due to the perceived growth of prostitution, the Costa Rican legislature decided to amend the penal code as it related to prostitution in order to repress it more efficiently. The original penal code72 punished women who engaged directly in prostitution but not those (men or women) who participated in the business indirectly, as owners of brothels for example. Congress decided to make penalties worse for those that ran brothels or trafficked with girls that were minors, an aspect that had been largely ignored up to this time. Prostitution continued to be regulated through required registrations, indicating that women could continue in the trade as prostitutes but pimps were not legally allowed to operate.73Three years later in 1920, the police department of San Jos found it impossible to apply the Profilaxis Venrea law to all of San Joss prostitutes. Overwhelmed by the number of prostitutes and by understaffing, the Profilaxis Venrea offi ce wrote to the General Director of Police complaining of the offices inability to properly and efficiently enforce prostitution laws. The office of Profilaxis Venrea cited neighborhoods and houses inhabited by prostitutes but were unable to properly con duct investigations, incarcerations, or registration because of the limited personnel. In addition, the primary problem was that the office could not even enforce the law with prostitutes who were already registered. Out of the 330 women in San Jos regist ered as prostitutes in 1920, only 142 actually attended their weekly medical appointments. 74 71 ANCR. Gobernacin 45525, Congreso 11354dated August 8, 1917, this document amended the original penal code to indicate legal punishment for those who ran brothels rather than legally attacking prostitutes exclusively through registration or incarceration in the Casa de Reclusin if they refused registration. See also note 74 below. 72 Article 389 of the Costa Rican Penal code in 1841. 73 As Anne Hayes notes in Anne Hayes, Female Prostitution in Costa Rica: Historical Perspectives, 1880 1930 (New York: Routledge, 2006), 91 pimps do not appear in great numbers in studies of prostitution in Costa Rica until after the Second World War, apparently due to the structure of a regulation system that offered more protection than harassment to prostitutes. 74 ANCR. Guerra y Marina 12978


70 The lack of personnel that assisted with the enforcement of the Profilaxis Venrea laws led to a degree of negligence that was noted by the society at large in addi tion to government departments. In 1921, a series of complaints were filed against the authorities of the Profilaxis Venrea office of San Jos. The complaints were a result of denunciations against Hortensia Fernndez Agero who was proven to be a prosti tute through the testimonies of several police officers. In spite of charges confirmed twice before, she had yet to be properly registered with the Profilaxis Venrea Her case was of special concern because she was contaminated with syphilis and thus a th reat to society. In summary, the complaints leveled against the Profilaxis Venrea resulted from a concern for the number of male victimas 75 of Fernndez Agero that were avoidable had she been properly registered and attended the mandatory weekly medical examinations.76 Other cases of negligence included prostitutes living within 200 meters of schools, ordered to vacate the premises within fifteen days but who continued their residence for over two months after the order.77As the fear of syphilis expanded and the police and offices of Profilaxis Venrea failed to efficiently enforce prostitution laws, the Costa Rican legislature discussed the establishment of a Clnica Antivenrea (anti -venereal clinic) in 1921. 78 75 Here, victims refers to male sexual partners who were infected with a venereal disease, syphilis in particular, and blamed Fernndez Agero In the meantime, it was proposed that regi stered prostitutes who were infected with syphilis be sent to the Casa de Reclusin and remain there either until their cure or the establishment of the Clnica Antivenrea In addition, the regulations for cancellation in the registry of prostitutes were to be stricter, relying on 76 ANCR. Gobernacin 34610 77 ANCR. Goberna cin 45555 78 ANCR. Gobernacin 45555


71 documentation of occupation of honest work and good conduct for a year. The problems with the police department and the Profilaxis Venrea were also addressed and it was resolved that a government supervisor would be employed to watch over the police process with regards to prostitution.79Medical examinations and confinement to the Casa de Reclusin were only applicable to prostitutes. If a prostitute was legitimately married, her registration with the Profilaxis Venrea departme nt was cancelled, regardless of a syphilis infection. These regulations proved to be problematic as some forged marriage certificates in order to be released. 80 Such situations were especially seen as perilous because of the government failure to properly c onfine prostitutes, and by implication syphilis, within the designated institutions. Complaints against the office of Profilaxis Venrea continued to mount because of such cases, in spite of the 1921 resolutions. In addition, complaints were also filed bec ause of an overzealous attitude on behalf of police to capture prostitutes. Problems from other provinces were increasingly appealed to the main office in San Jos. In December of 1924, a Seora Clara Duran de Mack complained that the Principle Police Age nt of the Profilaxis Venrea of Puntarenas81 79 ANCR. Gobernacin 45555, Se necesita enderezar los procedimientos errneos, absurdos, ilegales e ilgicos de aquel funcionario. Tal determinacin ha consultado no solo el inters social por la arbitrariedad de sus re soluciones, sino el propio, librndolo de ese modo de la responsabilidad penal en que induce a cada rato, al resolver contra disposiciones claras y precisas de la ley. had unjustly denounced and arrested her for prostitution. She stated that he had no scruples and failed to employ the correct procedure as she sent medical proof that she was not contaminated with any venereal disease. Since the Profilaxis Venrea officer disputed her claims the case was sent for examination to the main 80 ANCR. Gobernacin 34555. 1922 case in the Casa de Reclusion where the doctor release d Olga Hernandez from the venereal hospital, within the Casa de Reclusion, even though she was not cured. Upon investigation, it was determined that she was released because Carlos Durn claimed to be married to her and the doctor was obliged to release he r since prostitution laws were no longer applicable. The marriage was later discovered to be a lie. 81 Agente Principal de Polica de Profilaxis Venrea de Puntarenas


72 office of San Jos.82In 1934, on the forty-year anniversary of the Profilaxis Venrea law, a petition was sent to Congress to alter the law. Initiated and signed by ninety -four school teachers and parents from San Jos, the petition asked that the distance prostitutes had to maintain from schools be increased from two hundred meters to eight hundred meters within the capital and five hundred meters elsewhere. If a prostitute surpassed the limits of the proposed changes she would be in terminably confined to the neighborhoods specifically designated for prostitutes. Congress did not alter the distance required from schools but did agree that if sufficient complaints were filed prostitutes could be relocated to designated prostitution ne ighborhoods. Such cases were a reflection of the problems within all of Costa Rica that, by the mid twentieth century, seemed to be entrenched rather than closer to being resolved. 83Mid twentieth century documents show a continuation of the same problems with Profilaxis Venrea offices, prostitution laws, and society. Controversies over the legality and procedures employed by the police continued to arise as the hunt for prostitutes continued to be very much the same. In 1949, a complaint against a Judicial police officer was filed for capturing a group of women and incarcerating them as prostitutes without an explanation as to who gave the order for the arrests. Pressur es from the public at large were noticeable through anonymous complaints about prostitution. In addition to the anonymous complaints to local police and Profilaxis Venrea departments, at least one notable letter was written to Presidente Jos Figueres explaining the strife of mothers and wives who suffered because of prostitutes who took money from their respective sons and husbands. Similar to arguments of the 1890s, prostitutes continued to be blamed for the destruction of the Costa Rican nation at large through the ruin of 82 ANCR. Gobernacin 38456. 83 ANCR. Congreso 16944.


73 families and marriages, in both health and economic aspects. Prostitutes were and continued to be las flores negras of Costa Rica in 1950.84 84 ANCR. Gobernacin 13708.


74 CHAPTER 4 EDUCATION AND DISCIP LINE Education The national socialization of Costa Rican citizens was partly achieved through the explicit marginalization of prostitutes. During the 1890s, the Costa Rican states approach to prostitution changed from one of prohibition to one of control. As a universal reality, prostitution had to be managed in order to curtail its negative effects on the Costa Rican nation. Youth had to be protected and shielded from the negative influences of prostitution. In addition, changes in the Costa Rican education system, specifically as related to girls, would parallel changes in the approach to prostitution. The Liceo de Nias1 in San Jos was established as the first Costa Rican girls high school in 1841 and taught reading, writing, drawing, sewing, and embroidery. By 1847, the curriculum had expanded to include accounting, religion, morals and virtue, urbanity, geography and history, world and natural history, physics, music, Spanish, French, and Italian.2 Established in 1878 the Colegio de Nuestra Seora de Sin would become a point of contention for the Costa Rican nation. Schools were also established in Alajuela, Cartago, and Heredia. Nonetheless, the majority of womens educa tion was still privately funded until the mid 1880s with a series of educational reforms that attempted to standardize curricula. 3 1 Later k nown as the Colegio Superior de Seoritas. Fr ench nuns initially directed the school, an aspect that occasioned a debate regarding the desirability of the education of Costa Rican citizens by 2 Clotilde Obregn Quesada, "Contradictory Aspects of Costa Rican Women's History During the Nineteenth Century," in The Costa Rican Women's Movement: A Reader ed. Ilse Abshagen Leitinger, 5260 (Pittsburgh: Uni versity of Pittsburgh Press, 1997), 56. 3 ANCR. Congreso 8937.


75 foreigners.4 In 1882 the school requested money for the construction of a new building and argued that the ne w school was essential for the development of national civilization. Education was essential to the nation, both in intellectual and moral aspects. In particular, womens education, whose social mission of maintaining domestic bliss was increasingly noted, was of high importance to nation -building projects.5The Colegio de Seoritas, an all girls school was primarily an option for wealthy families 6In 1886, the Colegio Superior de Seoritas became a four -year teacher training institute and taught calisthenics, home economics, sewing, drawing, and h ygiene, as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, and pedagogy. but there were scholarships available with the condition that the graduates would teach at a public school f or two years in addition to working at the Colegio de Seoritas for one year. Students wrote essays to qualify for scholarships that included national topics like el verdadero patriota what it meant to be a true Costa Rican patriot. These essays reflect ed the teachings of primary Costa Rican education that defined the true patriot as a man who was focused on his studies and was thus useful to his nation, rather than a military man who was focused on war. Students from all Costa Rican provinces were eligi ble to apply for scholarships, and their national socialization was well reflected in their essays. 7 4 ANCR. Educacin 6150. In 1903, and until 1841, it functioned as a professional school that primarily granted degrees in secretarial work, providing limited options for women who wished to pursu e university studies. The changes in the curricula and 5 ANCR. Congreso 8937. 6 ANCR. Congreso 8937. The Costa Rican government provided primary education only. 7 Sara Sharratt, The Suffragist Movement in Costa Rica, 18 891949, in The Costa Rican Women's Movement: A Reader ed. Ilse Abshagen Leitinger, 6183 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997), 67.


76 opportunities within the Colegio Superior de Seoritas reflect the perception that the primary goal of womens education was to train future wives and mothers. Bourgeois morals of interaction between the sexes were of specific concern for 1890s Costa Rican elites, as is especially noticeable through education documents. In 1891 the Colegio Superior de Seoritas requested two police officers during the opening and closing hours of the school to keep th e order and prevent young men from disrespecting the girls.8The separation of the sexes was of major concern to parents during the 1890s, especially as society was still struggling to accept mixed -sex schools. In 1892, parents in Cartago were morally offended to discover that teachers from the neighboring schools for boys and girls inappropriately visited each other during school hours. The focus on the interaction between the sexes revealed a growing concern with insuring the proper socialization of children. The Colegio Superior de Seoritas was not singular in its efforts to oversee the appropriate interaction between the sexes, however, as the Liceo de Costa Rica, a major mixed sex public school in San Jose, made similar requests. 9 Concerns were rai sed if female teachers did not teach girls because it was believed male teachers could not appropriately or efficiently teach young girls.10 The difference in education was not only defined by sex but also by class. Curricula were partly determined by the v iable opportunities for young women depending upon their status as regular students or as bequistas .11 8 ANCR. Polica 14747. vigilar el orden e impidan que lleguen ah jvenes a cometer faltas y desacatos cont ra las nias In 1895, a government inspector suggested that clases de teora should only be taught to bequistas since they would need it as future 9 ANCR Ministerio de Educacin Publica 8938. 10 ANCR. Educacin 6351. 11 Bequistas was the term Costa Rican documents used to refer to girls who had scholarships.


77 teachers. It w as suggested that music classes not be offered to regular students since their wealthy parents could afford private lessons at home.12The limitations on education programs, such as theory and music classes, were due to economic shortages dating back to 1882 when the Colegio de Seoritas was established. The Colegio de Seoritas was exceptional in its education programs because much of its funding was private, from wealthy parents. Classes taught were meant to create good domestics and were supervised by of ficials within the school. By the 1900s, an Escuela Superior de Nias was established in provinces throughout Costa Rica. 13 At this moment it was clear that education problems were not solely rooted in economic woes but also in lack of standardization. Whil e certain courses, such as Religion, were required, the actual information taught was not monitored or specifically designed.14 In 1903, information about education plans circulated between the Escuela Superior de Nias of San Jos and Heredia.15 These educa tion plans were meant to initiate a standardization process that would better prepare future teachers. At five scholarships per province,16 Costa Rica noted a shortage of teachers for its public schools, as bequistas were the primary, if only source of nati onal teachers.17It was common for parents, in particular mothers, to write complaints about school procedures or events they found morally objectionable. Such events usually consisted of inappropriate interaction between the sexes, be it students or teach ers. In 1905, a group of 12 ANCR. Educacin 8041. 13 ANCR. Educacin 010502, Educacin 11217, Educaci n 8094, Ministerio de Educacin Publica 005618, Ministerio de Educacin Publica 8537. 14 ANCR. Educacin 1902. 15 ANCR. Educacin 8094. 16 ANCR. Educacin 11133. 17 ANCR. Educacin 8094.


78 mothers threatened to remove their children from the Escuela de Nias in the Guadalupe neighborhood of San Jos because male teachers from the neighboring boys school were teaching students inappropriate habits.18Costa Ricas adoption of puericulture These complaints were exacerbated by changes in the education system that conjoined the education of both sexes. 19 ideas involved the establishment of mixed-gender schools as a way of preparing women and men for appropriate interaction within society. This implementation and practice was met with a certain amount of controversy, especially from mothers of families that found it morally problematic to have their young daughters interacting with boys at an early age. In these cases, the y blamed the science of puericulture for changing the traditional gender -based separation of schools. In 1908, fifty-two mothers signed a petition mailed to the President of the Republic arguing against the establishment of escuelas mixtas de ambos sexos, y al de impartir una enseanza que llaman puericultura .20 They argued that mixed -sex schools should not exist in Costa Rica because of the national customs, the climate, and environment.21 18 ANCR. Ministerio de Educacin Publica 005618. Algunos maestros de l a Escuela de Varones tienen por costumbre en las horas de receso irse la sombra de los rboles de la plaza, y se han permitido la falta de respeto de inclinarse hacia el suelo para verles mejor las piernas las alumnas del V ao, la mayor parte de estas jovencitas bastante desarrolladas fsicamente y lo bastante intelectualmente para comprender la malicia que enciende ese procedimiento. The fear was that mixed schools would jeopardize the innocence of female 19 Rodriguez, 118. Puericulture (or puericultura in Spanish) literally means the science or practice of growing childre n. It originated in France in the 1900s and was intended to instruct mothers, female health care professionals, and teachers; female medical nursing students were encouraged to specialize in puericulture or related fields like obstetrics. 20 ANCR. Presiden cia 9104. As Julie Rodriguez noted in Civilizing Argentina puericulture was popular in the early twentieth Century and Costa Rica was no exception in following modern trends. Documents reveal that there was public resistance to its implications, mainly be cause of the changes in the school system by the mixing of the sexes in schools, as it was deemed inappropriate for the Costa Rican nation. 21 condiciones propias de nuestras costumbres, de nuestro clima, y de nuestro medio ambiente


79 students by prematurely exposing them to males. The petition was made in name of the high morals of Society.22In 1915, an internal survey was conducted at the Escuela Superior de Nias concerning its educational programs. The two major questions posed were: a) what should be the general goal of the school b) What end should the Costa Rican school pursue as an expression of the nations independence? 23 The main responses set by the directors of the school were a) the school should aim to educate man. But what is man? A diamond in the rough.24 Thus, the point of education was for man to expand his faculties, which were directly related to the Costa Rican environment of peace and love for agricultural life.25 Ideally, the Costa Rican school was to function as microscopic nation.26 To this extent, it was proposed that schools be mixed to create and maintain social harmony. Few differences were necessary in the education of girls and boys, other than training in domestic life for girls. It was argued that much like women could fulfill the role of wife they could also struggle alongside men, in government, the arts, science, etc.27 22 en nombre del al to inters de la moral de la Sociedad The underlying idea, however, was that one was born with the ability to engage in a certain profession and should be ta ught with the appropriate preparation. Regardless of occupation 23 ANCR. Educacin 9331. a) que debe proponerse en general la escuela? b) Que fin ha de perseguir la escuela costarricense como expresin de su vida de nacin independiente? 24 ANCR. Educacin 9331. a) La escuela debe proponerse educar al hombre. Pero qu es el hombre? Un diamante precioso, pero en bruto al principio. 25 paz, y amor por la vida agrcola 26 ANCR. Educacin 9331. una patria microscpica. 27 luchadora al lado del hombre, en la arena ardiente de los combates del Foro, el Gobierno, el Arte, las Ciencias, etc.


80 students were to be taught love for freedom and labor28 that was at the core of the Costa Rican nation and could therefore only be taught by fellow Costa Ricans.29The effort to define specif ic goals and curriculum plans for schools made visible the differences Costa Ricans noted between rural and urban populations. While the opinions of teachers on male and female education varied in some ways, there existed a general consensus that rural cus toms, or those that were attributed to rural areas, 30 were undesirable and should be combated with proper education. Agriculture should not be taught to urban populations because it was neither useful nor were urban children naturally skilled for such work. Nonetheless, agriculture would remain important in rural education. Overall, the survey showed that the consistent emphasis and focus of the Costa Rican school was to form useful men for the Nation, society, and familywith the improvement of morals, abo ve military training or education, being the utmost important goal.31Discipline Costa Rican prostitution regulations demonstrate that politics and culture are inherently linked in the practices that collaborate in and produce governmentality.32 28 el amor a la libertad y al trabajo The sta te, as a structure of governmentality, successfully functions if the population adopts state practices or rationalization to the degree of normalization. Prostitution regulations were effective in 29 ANCR. Educacin 9331. 30 ANCR. Educacin 9331. The document mentions ignorance and superstition as customs or characteristics of the rural population. 31 formar hombres tiles la Patria, la sociedad y la familiadando siempre mas importancia al mejoramiento moral que la instruccin 32 Foucault proposes the term governmentality to refer generally to all projects or practices intending to direct social actors to behave in a particular manner and towards specified ends in which political government is but one of the means of regulating or directing action.


81 convicting prostitutes because most denunciations were from the public rather than police investigations. To become normalized, bourgeois ideals of domesticity required a repressed sexuality for women, since their position as angels in the home33Practices to control sexuality were enthusiastically implemented by modern nations throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These developments functioned to define t he modern nation through bourgeois family ideals that were rationalized through a series of references to particular national narratives. These particularities, however, were present as a result of consciously and artificially formulated national narrative s. Scholars have argued that these practices are rooted in colonialism or that they are roots of authoritarianism, but it is clear that they are the normalizing byproducts of nation-building. included modesty and a semblance of sexual innocence. On the other hand, the states involvement in prostitution regulations unifies and solidifies the state as a source of moral authority. In short, prostitutes, as marginal figures and subjectivities, were essential to defining the accepted ideal bourgeois family for the modern nation and for shoring up the moral authority of the state. 34Disciplinary institutions in the late nineteenth century, su ch as Costa Ricas Casa de Reclusin aimed to train more than to punish. The punishment aspect of such disciplinary institutions forms part of the greater process of normalizing and training modern national society. The regulation of prostitution reflec ts the process of discipline through classification and 33 ANCR. Congreso 8947. 34 In Reproducing Empire Laura Briggs argues that the policing of sex uality is about colonialism, as those practices of control originate there, in particular Spanish colonialism. While Briggs work focused on colonialism because of Puerto Ricos lack of official national status, the concept remains the same as a the polici ng of sexuality still contributed to the formation of the U.S. nation through Puerto Ricos otherness. In Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires Donna Guy states that the roots of authoritarianism are found in practices of policing sexuality. In Compromised Positions Katherine Bliss looks at the Porfiriato as the source of unbalanced gender relations that were carried on in the revolutionary and post revolutionary period. In this case the policing of sexuality was founded on authoritarian relations that normalized gender roles to the point that they continued afterwards. Together, these arguments show that the policing of sexuality can indicate several things and that its position either as origin or product of authoritarian politics is not necessarily as primary as its role in uniting the modern nation.


82 differentiation. Much as the modern nation is founded on contrasting concepts of exclusion and inclusion, disciplinary institutions function within spheres of homogenization and differentiation. The n ormalization of bourgeois values was successful because of the institution of correct training through practices like prostitution laws.35 The effectiveness of prostitution laws in establishing gender constructs was due to the degree of public acceptance an d adoption of the implied values of such laws. Costa Ricas archives show that neighbors who found a womans behavior morally unacceptable initiated the majority of denunciations against prostitutes. The normalization of bourgeois female behavior was achie ved through the classification, analysis, and differentiation of unacceptable female behavior. This classification is predominantly visible in prostitution cases that list the number of unacceptable activities women could engage in. Costa Rican prostitutio n cases document inappropriate behavior as single women who could not account for their incomes, any woman seen with men on the street, especially after dark, and an excessive amount of male visitors.36Prostitution transcended the limited space of religio us morality as health and sickness were problematized and disease became a political and economic problem relevant to state policy. 37 35 The chief function of the disciplinary power is to train, rather than to select and to levy; or, no doubt, to train in order to levy and select all the more. In The Foucault Reader, ed by Paul Rabinow, 188. The problematization of health created a politically justified space for state involvement in prostitution as well as in th e private space of the family. The direct involvement of the state in public health was part of the consolidation of the nation as an effective and affective structure. 36 It can not be appropriately determined what defined an excessive amount of male visitors, as some neighborhood denunciations may have been exaggerated or never defined through numbers. 37 Paul Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader ed. Paul Rabinow (New Yor k: Pantheon Books, 1984), 274. Health and sickness, as characteristics of a group, a population, are problematized in the eighteenth century through the initiatives of multiple social instances, in relation to which the state itself plays various different roles.


83 The involvement of state institutions in the physical and moral health of the general population took effect through a number of activities, of which the regulation of prostitution was but one. Health concerns justified the regulation of prostitution well into the twentieth century, especially since antibiotics for syphilis were not develop ed until near the middle of the twentieth century.38 Such justifications were especially necessary for the protection of the family as the building block of the nation. Attributed to prostitution, the spread of venereal disease would produce degenerative po pulations that inhibited the successful propagation of the nation. Prostitution regulations may not have been effective in eliminating the sometimes necessary vice or even in appropriately controlling it,39Self discipline, resulting from the normalization of certain attitudes and behaviors, effectively perpetuates and mediates the conflict between mother and prostitute. The but they were effective in defining boundaries o f proper social behavior. The degree of public concern with prostitution was exacerbated by the overt public policies employed by the state. The sense of panic surrounding prostitution was possible through the official state concern with venereal disease, particularly syphilis, and the dangers it posed to future generations. The appeal was made to mothers of families in particular, as bourgeois gender roles were already widely appropriated in the late nineteenth century. Appealing to morality and domesticit y with angels of the home empowered the preoccupation with prostitution, as prostitutes were a direct insult to the morality of these angels. Thus, the danger of prostitution was transformed from a threat to society and nation as abstract notions, to a tangible threat and conflict between the prostitute and the mother. 38 Rodriguez, Civilizing Argentina. 39 From the research on Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica prostitution was legalized primarily so that the state could maintain control on an aspect of social behavior that abounded and existed with no set limitations Establishing prostitution as a legally public priority because of its health implications contributed to the consolidation of political power for the state.


84 chara cteristics of mother as a female subjectivity are applicable to socially respectable women, defined through their limited interaction with men and their confinement to domestic activities, be they married or single. Woman, when prudently defined according to bourgeois morality, included the roles of wife and mother as caregivers and nurturers to their respective husbands and children. Regardless of marital status or children, the bourgeois woman always had a position as nurturer. In Costa Rica res entment between the normalized bourgeois woman and the deviant prostitute was reflected in public denunciations against prostitutes. Disciplinary institutions are primarily effective once the intentioned discipline becomes normalized and publicly enfo rced on a social level that extends well beyond official spheres. The regulation of prostitution contributed to the normalization and institutionalization of bourgeois values. The adoption of female bourgeois subjectivities is especially noticeable as fema le denunciations against prostitutes predominated. Costa Rican women tended to be insulted by immoral activities, such as being out late at night or engaging with men after dark. While these accusations may seem trivial, they were evaluated as serious evid ence in court cases on the argument that women who were engaging in immoral activities were threatening to children. They set negative examples for future generations, or prevented others from effectively teaching acceptable morals. If immoral activities were not appropriately punished and banned, the fear was that children would learn that such behavior was acceptable, and worse, that the efforts of mothers to produce good future citizens were in vain. Such accusatory behavior is an example of the way s in which self -discipline functions. Denunciations demonstrate that the police did not necessarily actively prosecute prostitution, but that self -discipline allowed for an atmosphere where prostitutes were accused by neighbors before the police sought the m out. Women of good moral standards initiated public


85 denunciations during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, but by the middle of the twentieth century prostitutes were equally responsible for denunciations. The main difference betwe en denunciations made by prostitutes and those made by nonprostitutes lay in the specificity and self interest of the charges. Whereas women who were not prostitutes had traditionally raised denunciations against particular women, prostitutes raised accus ations against groups of women who enjoyed all the benefits of living la vida licenciosa without the state imposed regulations. Accusations initiated by prostitutes focused on entire neighborhoods, streets, or houses where non registered prostitutes were not being forced to adhere to prostitution laws. During this period the old tension or rivalry between mother40Registered prostitutes worked within the legal system for equality. Their focus shifted from the validity of registration to an acceptance of the prostitution lifestyle, with all its and prostitute is transferred to the registered prostitute and the clandestine prostitute. Nearing the middle of the twentieth century, registered prostitutes in Costa Rica were more likely to file complaints of unequal treatment for prostitutes that were not registered. Registered prostitutes filed complaints to the department of Profilaxis Venrea concerning their legal position and adherence to the strict regulations imposed by law, while nonregistered prostitutes escaped the legal impositions. Registered prostitutes did not argue about their status as prostitutes but rather identified other women whose lifestyles were similar to the irs but who had not been identified by the police as such. Such activity and behavior reflects the level of self -discipline that permeated society, but also the need of registered prostitutes to use the law to control competition from unregistered or infor mal prostitutes. 40 More generally between the bourgeois woman, which implies wife as well as mother.


86 implications, both restrictions and degrees of sexual and economic freedom. This acceptance was not due to an understanding or approval of prostitution regulations, but developed from a comparative judgment of advantages between registered and clandestine prostitutes. Registered prostitutes noted their geogra phical restrictions, especially as the expansion of San Jos included an increase in schools and consequently a decrease in the areas they could legally inhabit. Clandestine prostitutes had more economic and personal freedom since they did not have to atte nd weekly doctors appointments and check in with the Profilaxis Venrea nor be outside of San Joss bustling centers and away from commerce. The reality of prostitution and the choice of registered prostitutes to remain within the trade contributed to th e tension with clandestine prostitutes. Registered prostitutes worked within the limited boundaries and were subject to restrictive and invasive legal vigilance while clandestine prostitutes avoided that aspect of prostitution, developing noted inequalitie s that registered prostitutes resented. Prostitutes were then not all equally under the same category as they were in the late nineteenth century, and those within the trade noticed the effect. There continued to be resistance to prostitution regulation s through clandestine prostitution. Outcries of registered prostitutes pointed to clandestine prostitution and showed the ineffective enforcement of the law and more importantly the lack of equal treatment under the law. The reasons for such an approach ma y be several, primarily that the unequal treatment led to unequal success or failure within the prostitution trade to the benefit of clandestine prostitutes. In addition, denunciations against clandestine prostitutes shifted police focus from registered pr ostitutes to those who escaped police control and by association perhaps helped decrease in police attention and/or harassment of registered prostitutes in San Jos.


87 It is significant to note that the tension between registered and clandestine prostitutes was not as prevalent in port cities like Puntarenas. Public women in Puntarenas often voluntarily registered with the Profilaxis Venrea office because aside form weekly medical examinations, they were free to move within the city and were not harassed if they were registered. Being a port city, Puntarenas was devoid of the multitude of schools that existed in the capital of San Jos, and therefore the stipulation to remain within two hundred meters of schools was not necessarily a hindrance for prostitu tes.41Registered prostitutes, through their denunciations of non-registered prostitutes, argued for equality under the law. The legalization of prostitution as an official trade meant less police harassment but it also implied more restrictions, especiall y spatially. The restrictions implied that prostitutes could not practice their trade in some of the most populated centers of San Jos because of the distance required from schools. Registered prostitutes took note of the advantage that clandestine prosti tutes inevitably had in the trade and, motivated by self interest, used the legal system to establish a more tangible equality between women in the trade. It is clear from such cases that resistance to prostitution laws continued to exist since clandestine prostitution continued to be a problem. This resistance, however, was not as primarily predominant as it was at the close of the nineteenth century as more women abided by the regulations and demanded others to do the same through their own denunciations. Thus, decreasing court cases document women arguing against prostitution charges and more registration documentations based on prostitutes accusing other prostitutes. This is a reflection of the cementing of the definition of prostitute, and of the acceptance of the definition even by those that would be defined as such. Court cases and police records reveal a 41 An ne Hayes, Female Prostitution in Costa Rica: Historical Perspectives, 18801930 (New York: Routledge, 2006), 8396.


88 decline of the early arguments42 by women defending their honorable position in society through their engagement in appropriate domestic activ ities. The space for the prostitute in society was delimited and largely unquestioned by the middle of the twentieth century. While the official aim of prostitution regulations was to eliminate the space for prostitutes in society, they appear to only st rengthen their position, especially as the prostitute provided a legal contrast and alternative to the wife and mother of the nation. 42 Particularly those of the late 1880s and 1890s when regulations on prostitution were altered and the Ley de Profilaxis Venrea took effect in Costa Rica.


89 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION The case of the Costa Rican nation demonstrates that the policing of sexuality does not so m uch foreshadow authoritarian politics, as has been argued by Julia Rodriguez for Argentina, as it exposes the normalizing disciplinary practices common to modern nations everywhere. I have argued here that while it may be true that Costa Rican prostituti on regulations were not successful in fulfilling the original official goal of eliminating prostitution, they were successful in establishing the normalizing boundaries of acceptable sexual and moral conduct. The definitions of prostitution and prostit ute in Costa Rica as deviant were decreasingly questioned as more legalized prostitutes argued for equal treatment of all women living la vida licenciosa Thus, prostitutes came to accept their marginalized and morally inferior position in society and use it to argue for legal equality with other licentious women. This contention was self -interested, since it reflected an attempt to protect themselves from unfair competition from informal prostitution. Prostitution implied a rejection of motherhoo d and thus nation. Engagement in prostitution represented an abnormality that, through science, could be corrected with rehabilitation that included teaching proper domestic behaviors. Nevertheless, the rehabilitation and legalization of prostitution led n ot to its demise, but to its spread and democratization. Registration ultimately meant women could continue to practice prostitution as a trade and their denunciations against nonregistered prostitutes implied a push towards egalitarian treatment of those within the trade. Prostitution practices common to Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica and Peru, do not make any of those nations exceptional or novel, especially as most of the practices are parallel to European practices. What these practices demonstrate, ho wever, is the prevalence of the bourgeois family as the ideal infrastructure of the modern nation. The bourgeois family unit is


90 significant on a political level as much as on a cultural level. Prostitution laws took center stage in congressional debates wi th the protection of the family being the main justification. The politicization of the family was important to the state as it assumed the education of youth as future citizens. Women, as the central figures in the home, were responsible for proper incu lcation of morals, and thus served as excellent teachers when marriage was not possible. Although the Costa Rican state and its official nation would unlikely say so, prostitutes also made excellent teachers of another kind, and they carved a democratic le gacy for themselves, if only out of self interest. Studying disciplinary practices unveils connections between modern nations that extend beyond political or economic development. Costa Ricas master narrative of political democracy and peace was created t hrough its education system. The normalization of masculine and feminine behaviors was essential to the family infrastructure of the nation. The connection between gender and the state is reinforced by the study of the policing of sexuality in Costa Rica. Figures that were consciously marginalized, like the prostitute, eventually and inevitably became less marginalized through legality, even if they continued to be morally marginalized. The voluntary registration of prostitutes may indicate a decrease in the shame associated with prostitution through a defense of its legal position within the Costa Rican legal code. If nothing else, registered prostitutes were law abiding citizens whose harassment, public or private, was not warranted. The laws of la Pat ria were prioritized above older morals. Anti -prostitution practices were one way the state consolidated its power as Liberalism ushered in a secular change of power away from the Catholic Church in Latin America. Prostitutes adapted to the ordered socie ty of the modern nation, Costa Rica not being the exception, and established a legally accepted position in the nation, whose initial necessary but


91 evil vice justification was increasingly irrelevant. Working within the parameters of Costa Ricas valued democratic narrative prostitutes sought democratization within the population of prostitutes. The legacy of the policing of sexuality proves to resonate as the ideals of bourgeois feminine and masculine behaviors continue to be accepted as normal. Unders tanding how this normalization was possible and the institutions that contributed to it can perhaps be a better tool for altering current and future gender constructs more effectively.


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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Griselda E. Rodriguez graduated with a bachelors degree in history from the University of Florida in May of 2006. After graduation, she moved to Miami where she enthusiastically engaged the arts through her employment at the Miami Art Central Museum. Her intellectual growth was continuously inspired, as the museum provided exposure to a combination of philosophical, artistic, and histo rical subjects. This exposure reoriented her academic interests from political history to cultural and gender history. This led to a focus on national narrative as related to sexuality and public institutions in Latin America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Currently, she is focused on the development of the modern Latin American nation, particularly Costa Rica, through public institutions and practices that normalized particular behaviors and attitudes as related to sexuality. In her studies, she hopes to contribute to changing the use of dichotomies and binary approaches found in traditional political, cultural, and gender historiography. After graduating with a masters degree in Latin American Studies in 2010, Griselda hopes to apply her knowledge of gender, the modern nation, and public institutions to the field of international relations or public art and cultural programs before pursuing a PhD in Latin American history.