PURA VIDA – The Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo) reported Tuesday that, for the public and private sectors, the April 11 holiday that this year falls on a Sunday WILL NOT be moved to the Monday.
With respect to pay, employees required to work on the holiday must be paid double pay; for overtime, it is one and a half normal salary.
However, the private sector can choose to close for business on Monday, April 12, such as the United States Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, announcing that it will observe the holiday on Monday, April 12. The Embassy will reopen on Tuesday, April 13, during normal hours, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
If you have a medical appointment, for example, it may be best to call ahead to confirm the doctor’s office or clinic is open on Monday.
Juan Santamaria Day
No, the holiday is not about the San Jose International Airport, but of the man who the airport bears the name of one of Costa Rica’s national heroes.
Every April 11 the country pauses to commemorate his death.
The legend has it that a barefooted 19-year old Juan Santamaría fought for his country in 1856 in the Second Battle of Rivas (Nicaragua) against William Walker and his army of mercenaries, who intended to seize power Central America and was looking to take over Costa Rica.
Walker’s men fled across the border to Nicaragua and their stronghold in at Rivas
As the story goes, Juan Santamaria, a young boy from the lower class, volunteered to burn down the “Meson de Guerra” fort in Rivas being occupied by William Walker and his troops.
While running up to the fort Juan was mortally wounded but did manage to throw the torch he was carrying used to light the enemy stronghold on fire, securing a victory for Costa Rica against William Walker and his imperialist forces.
Thirty five years after his death, he began to be idealized and was used as propaganda tool to inspire Costa Rican nationalism.
April 11 is a national holiday.
On September 15, 1891, a huge bronze statue of the hero was erected in Juan Santamaría de Alajuela Park in his hometown, Alajuela.
He was born on August 29, 1831. His mother was María Manuela Santamaría, and his father unknown. Santamaría had many jobs in Alajuela such as a sweets vendor, laborer, coffee picker, and, finally, a drummer in the military band of Alajuela, which lead him to become a drummer for the Costa Rican Army, until his death.
Naming Costa Rica’s main airport after him came later.
Along with commemorating his heroic acts, many historical studies have been done to investigate the true identity and actions of Juan Santamaría.
The Filibuster War
William Walker was an American filibuster, or person engaged in unauthorized warfare against a foreign country, He overthrew the government of Nicaragua in 1856 and attempted to conquer the other nations in Central America, including Costa Rica, in order to form a private slaveholding empire.
Costa Rican President Juan Rafael Mora Porras called upon the general population to take up arms and march north to Nicaragua to fight against the foreign invader. This started the Filibuster War.
After routing a small contingent of Walker’s soldiers at Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, the Costa Rican troops continued marching north and reached the city of Rivas, Nicaragua, on April 8, 1856.
The battle that ensued is known as the Second Battle of Rivas. Combat was fierce and the Costa Ricans were not able to drive Walker’s men out of a building near the town center from which they commanded an advantageous firing position.
According to the traditional account, on April 11, Salvadoran General José María Cañas suggested that one of the soldiers advance towards the hostel with a torch and set it on fire.
Some soldiers tried and failed, but Santamaría finally volunteered on the condition that in the event of his death, someone would look after his mother.
This account is apparently supported by a petition for a state pension filed in November 1857 by Santamaría’s mother, as well as by government documents showing that her pension was granted. Various historians, however, have questioned whether the account is accurate and whether Santamaria died under different circumstances.
At any rate, towards the end of the 19th century, Costa Rican intellectuals and politicians seized on the war against Walker and on the figure of Santamaría for nationalist purposes.
With notes from Wikipedia