Biography of Braulio Carrillo Colina (1800-1845)

Lawyer and Costa Rican politician, President of the Republic of Costa Rica (1835-1837) and dictator of the country (1838-1842). Born on 20 March 1800, Cartago (Costa Rica), and died on May 15, 1845, in San Miguel (El Salvador), murdered in a forest near the city. Son of Benito Carrillo Vidamartel and María de Jesús Hill.

Degree in law from the University of León (Nicaragua), just return to their country, in the year 1830, entered the judicial career as a Prosecutor of the Supreme Court. Soon occupied the Presidency, charge that gained by popular election and that proved to have vast legal knowledge, as well as an exquisite honesty, qualities which earned him great prestige. In the year 1834, Carrillo began his political career to be elected member of the Central American Federal Congress, which served as an outstanding work as leader of opposition to the policy of the Costa Rican President Juan Mora.

Back in Costa Rica, in the year 1835 held presidential elections, Carrillo won with a wide margin. Throughout his presidential term, Carrillo ruled with excessive hardness. It surpassed many times the constitutional limits imposed, with a desire to control every lever of power, circumstances that did not prevent several coup adventures against their way of making political, personal and authoritarian, or the emergence of the League (union of the National Republican Party and the National Union Party, both progressives), which could stifle barely, not without using an unusual violence. Carrillo moved the permanent capital of the State to San José. Coffee and oligarchic groups de-facto cemented all the power of the country with the acquiescence of the own Carrillo.

Due to its repressive internal politics, Carrillo defeated in the elections of the year 1837, by the progressive candidate Aguilar. Born of an unlimited ambition, Carrillo did not accept the result of elections, by which, in May of the following year, stood at the head of a coup that ended up overthrowing the elected President. Immediately proclaimed himself President of the nation and inaugurated a period of four years, where he/she ruled as a real tyrant.

Their absolutist tendencies, used excessive cruelty Carrillo to quell any attempt to overthrow him or silence any dissenting voice against his Government, were no obstacle to the implementation of a series of political reforms necessary and positive for the integration of Costa Rica in the market economy and the concert of the South American Nations in developing.

Carrillo policy tended to separate to Costa Rica in the Central American Federation. He/She introduced favorable reforms in the legal system and issued laws that persisted in the country well into the 20th century. Carrillo canceled the country's foreign debt and reorganized the administration of Justice and the Treasury, especially in the aspect of taxation. In terms of infrastructure, Carrillo also deployed a great activity with the construction of numerous government buildings and a road network that spread throughout the country. Final takeoff of the Costa Rican coffee cultivation, which, if on the one hand only it benefitted large planters of that product, on the other hand served to attract a large number of foreign exchange thanks to its massive export due to the excellent quality of the Costa Rican coffee was due to it.

On March 8, 1841, Carrillo led still further its absolutist tendencies through the adoption of the law on foundations and guarantees, that perpetual head of Costa Rica was proclaimed and abrogated the Constitution of the year 1825, project that could not take place due to the invasion of the country by the troops of the Honduran general Francisco Morazánin 1842who entered Costa Rica in front of a large contingent of troops recruited in several neighbouring countries and which counted with the collaboration of a broad sector of own military tired of the ongoing arbitrariness of Carrillo, Costa Rica.

Forced by force to leave power, Carrillo went into exile in El Salvador. He/She settled in the city of San Miguel, where he/she opened his own law firm and was devoted to the business of mining. However, in view of the danger that it represented for the democratic regime of his country, his enemies resolved to dispose of. He/She was killed while he/she was resting in a forest next to San Miguel, in 1845. His mortal remains were moved to Costa Rica, where they dispensed a funeral according to his rank. He/She was buried in a mausoleum that is funded by the State itself.


BETHELL, Leslie: History of Latin America: Latin America independent (1820-1870). (Barcelona: criticism, 1991).

Slim CASTAÑEDA, Paulino: Ibero-American short thematic dictionary. (Seville: Editorial Castillejo, 1989).

Carlos García Herraiz