Biography of Bernardo Soto y Alfaro (1854-1931)

Costa Rican politician born in Alajuela on February 12, 1854 and died on January 28, 1931 in San José. Son of the general Apolinar de Jesús Soto Quesada, was President between 1885 and 1886, and again between 1886 and 1889.

He studied law and became practice law for some time. In 1880 he/she moved to United States, and return to his country, the following year he/she was appointed Governor of his home province, but soon left his post since interests focused more on travel in Europe. Back to Costa Rica, returned to occupy the same position of Governor, and in 1882, the President, the general Próspero Fernández, entrusted him the portfolio of the Interior, police and promotion. His first performance was to proclaim a general amnesty for political reasons. In 1883 Congress appointed him to exercise the Executive power in the absences or disease of the President, and in 1884, against their will, the Assembly granted him the post of Brigadier. In 1882 he/she received the portfolio of the Ministry of finance; his most important contribution while he/she was at the head of this Ministry was preparing a decree that declared free all national products of the soil and industry and, in another document, the creation of the the stamp duty.

In addition, Soto and Alfaro led to Congress an exhibition against the particular Convention and the foundations of a project for the payment of the foreign debt, which was rejected; He/She appointed a Committee to draw up and submit to the Ministry a draft regulation of finance in order to reorganize State revenues; It entered into a very advantageous contract for the exploitation of the railway between dirty river and the port of Limon; It set the conversion of internal debt. Also noteworthy are: the conclusion of contracts with various banks; the home of the law of sealed paper; the reduction of telegraphic rates and the price of tobacco; and, finally, the establishment of lighting in San José. These and other merits hoisted him to the Presidency of the Republic in 1855 after the death of Prospero Fernández, at the very moment in which Costa Rica initiated the war against Guatemala.

In the election of 1886 he/she was elected President by popular election, once he/she had completed the mandate for which he/she had been elected the late Próspero Fernández. During his presidency decreed, with the help of Mauro Fernández, the General Law of common education; He/She created the Liceo de Costa Rica, the top ladies College, the Institute of Alajuela, the National Museum, national library and canceled the University of Santo Tomas. He/She founded the national asylum of mad; built the Morazan Park; established the Red Cross and the national lottery.

In the tough election campaign of 1889, the presidential candidate José Joaquín Rodríguez Zeledón was defeated by the candidate of the Liberal Party progressive, Ascensión Esquivel. The attempts of the army to impose the presidential candidate sparked a popular uprising that forced Bernardo Soto to relinquish power on 7 November 1889 the third appointed, Carlos Durán, who ruled for a period of six months. This action of President Soto is remembered in Costa Rica with the celebration of the day of democracy on 7 November.

Bernardo Soto was declared Benemérito de la Patria on May 15, 1885.