The statue of
The statue of José María Figueres Ferrer in its original place in the patio of the Cuartel Bellavista, of the Museo Nacional. Photo courtesy of Museo Nacional.

QCOSTARICA — The statue of former president José Figueres Ferrer will soon be back in its original spot in the patio of the Mueso Nacional (National Museum), following a presidential decree, announced President Luis Guillermo Solís on Friday.

The statue of José María Hipólito Figueres Ferrer (1906-1990), the founder of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), three times president (1948–1949, 1953–1958, and 1970–1974) and the father of modern democracy in Costa Rica, sits in a dark storage room of the museum, propped up against a wall, with a yellow rope around its neck to prevent it from falling over.

The Solís decision was taken in the commemorate the 66th anniversary of the abolition of the Army, on 1 December 1948, by “Don Pepe” as Figueres is affectionately referred to.

The statue sat in the patio of the National Museum since 1998 until 2007, when on February 26, 2007, former president Oscar Arias signed a presidential decree for the removal of the statue and creating a commission to find a new and better place for Figueres.

According to Solís, the commission never worked and the decision to remove the statue from storage was never reversed.

“The Government of the Republic considers appropriate in respect to the historical value … the sculpture be placed in the originally agreed place,” says the Solís decree.

Interestingly, neither the PLN governments of Arias or Laura Chinchilla moved to take the statue out of storage. It is now a Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) government to do so.

Karen Olsen, Figueres’ widow, told La Nacion she still asks herself why Arias removed the statue. No comments were available from the former president’s son, José Maria Figueres Olsen, who also was served as president from 1994 to 1998.

Interesting also is La Nacion’s attempt to photograph the statue in its current location. Despite having permission, photographer Ignacio Gonzalez was prevented from taking photos by warehouse manager Marlen Calvo, arguing that it would be best not to publish the image Don Pepe with a rope around his neck and covered with a sheet.


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