Biography of Próspero Fernández Oreamuno (1834-1885)

Military and Costa Rican politician, President of the Republic of Costa Rica (1882-1885), born on July 18, 1834 in San José (Costa Rica) and died on March 12, 1885 in San Mateo (Costa Rica).

Bachelor's degree in literature from the University of Guatemala, in 1852 he/she returned to his country to enlist in the army. He/She participated in the expedition that made the attacks of the American filibuster William Walker in Nicaragua, between the years 1856 and 1857, he/she overcame in the battles of Santa Rosa, Rivas and San Jacinto, in addition to various vapors enemy action that precipitated the final capitulation of the American. Thanks to its value and merit in this campaign, Próspero Fernández was successively promoted to the grade of Captain, Colonel, and, finally, Brigadier.

Once finished the war, was appointed military commander of Alajuela by President Juan Rafael Mora Porras (1849-1859), and, shortly afterwards, general in Chief of the Costa Rican army, charges which played perfectly, circumstances that led to his appointment as Minister by the Guerra under the Presidency of Tomás Guardia Gutiérrez (1870-1882).

After the presidential elections of the year 1882, Próspero Fernández was elected President of the Republic, precisely in one of the hardest for the country as a result of the economic crisis caused by the fall of coffee prices in overseas markets and by the discredit that Costa Rica, which had resulted in a widespread by investors and credit groups distrust had fallen.

In order to balance the balance of trade of Costa Rica, absolutely negative, and remedy the coffee crisis, leading the country in export product, applied a rigid policy of cuts that affected, above all, the Administration and education policy: it imposed a considerable reduction in the salaries of officials, closed a large number of underused public schools and decreed the secular and compulsory educationHe secularized all the cemeteries in the State and forbade the establishment of any kind of monastic orders or religious communities in the Republic.

Eager to restore credit in the country and attract the necessary foreign capital, on 5 April 1884 signed the Soto-Keith contract, which was yielded to the American railway company exploitation of all railways in the country built to date, and others in construction project, by a period of 88 years. During his tenure also opened the first electric street lighting in San José.

On March 5, 1885, the Costa Rican Parliament approved the entry of the country into the reborn American Federation, resolution to which Prospero Fernández refused, supported by a broad sector of the population and of the President of El Salvador, Francisco Menéndez. As general, Próspero Fernández decided to put at the head of his troops and engage in battle the armies led by general Justo Rufino Barrios, President of Guatemala (1873-1885), who had already conducted the first actions of invasion of Costa Rica.

Delicate health, Próspero Fernández died in San Mateo, nothing more start of the race, when he/she tried to stop the armies of Rufino Barrios.


BETHELL, Leslie: History of Latin America: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (1870-1930). (Barcelona: criticism, 1992).

VV.AA: History of Latin America: contemporary history. Volume no. 3. (Madrid: Cátedra, 1988).