Coffee and the Costa Rican Model of Development

  • Anthony Winson


After 1950 or so as part of the new development model envisioned by Costa Rica’s political leadership, the State became a powerful social force in creating the preconditions for the modernisation of the economy. This was nowhere more true than with the nation’s coffee sector. And the State’s ability to make coffee the motor of economic development would not only determine the resources that could be put into a needed diversification of the country’s economic structure, it would also inevitably impinge on the longer-term success or failure of a programme of welfare capitalism and the liberal democratic political structures that were just being given shape in the early 1950s.


Coffee Production Coffee Farmer Coffee Price Coffee Grower Coffee Cultivation 
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  1. 10.
    Oficina del Café, Plan de Abonamiento Intensivo (San José, 1959), p.7 and Programa para la Rehabilitatión de Cafetales (San José, 1954), p.6.Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    Details on the legal minimum hourly wages that prevailed is found in Justo Aguilar F., Carlos Barboza V. and Jorge Leon S. Desarrollo Tecnologico del Cultivo del Café (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnologicas, San José, 1981), p.3–39, Table 3–10. They also provide figures indicating that the actual wages paid did not vary too much from the legal minimum, during these years, though by the 1970s actual wages lagged somewhat behind the legal minimum.Google Scholar
  3. In 1950 local agricultural experts had noted that despite the rise in wages, coffee workers were able to cover substantially less of their necessities with their salaries than in the mid 1930s. See A.T. Blanco and J. Morales, ‘Los Salarios en Café no Cobren el 38 por ciento de las Necesidades de los Trabajadores’, (Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias Agricolas, San José, 1950).Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    The former are recounted in Manuel Rojas Bolanos, ‘Clase y Lucha de Clases en Costa Rica: 1940–48’ unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1977), pp.148–49. The latter is detailed in Delgado, El Partido, part II.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Banco Anglo Costarricense, Programa para la Rehabilitatión de Cafetales, (San José, 1954), p.6.Google Scholar
  6. 32.
    See Banco Central, ‘Reduce Impuesto de Importacion de Abonos Arancel de Aduanas, Ley no. 1738 de 31 de Marzo de 1954’, Memoria Anual (San José, 1959), pp.319–20.Google Scholar
  7. 37.
    William Hayden Q., Relatión Entre el Credito Ortogado al Café y la Expansion en su Productión, Banco Central, series no. 5 (San José 1970), p.19.Google Scholar
  8. 38.
    Calculated from data found in Oficina del Café, Informe Sobre la Politica de Credito a la Actividad Cafetalera Durante 1979, Appendix A (San José, 1979), Table 1.Google Scholar
  9. 40.
    This is discussed in Banco Central, Politica Crediticia en Relatión con la Actividad Cafetalera, (San José, 1972), p.5 and passim.Google Scholar
  10. 41.
    This is noted, for example in Banco Central, Programa National de Credito para Abonamiento de Cafetales (San José, 1976), p.3. The impression that part of such credits would be destined to such ends was also supported by interviews with personnel in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (April 1980) and by the study carried out by Aguilar et al., ‘Desarrollo Tecnologico’, pp.6/46.Google Scholar
  11. 44.
    These remarks are based on interviews with personnel of CICAFE, and the Oficina del Café’s Informe Sobre la Actividad Cafetalera de Costa Rica (San José, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. 45.
    See, for example, Oficina del Café, Informe de Labores, 1976, (San José, 1977), p.48.Google Scholar
  13. 46.
    See José Cazanga S. ‘Las Cooperativas de Caficultores de Costa Rica en el Proceso de Desarrollo del Capitalismo en el Café’ thesis for the Licenciatura (Universidad de Costa Rica, 1982), p.147.Google Scholar
  14. 48.
    See Rafael Cartay A., ‘La Comercialización de Café en Costa Rica a traves de Co-operativos’, Masters of Science thesis (Instituto Interamericana de Ciencias Agricolas, 1969), p.54.Google Scholar
  15. 52.
    D. Zuniga, ‘El Café: Su Imperativa Economica, Politica y Social en Costa Rica’, thesis for the Licenciatura (Universidad de Costa Rica, 1971), p.88Google Scholar
  16. 53.
    This is reported in Oficina del Café, Informe Sobre la Actividad Cafetalera de Costa Rica (San José, 1976), p.9, table 1.Google Scholar
  17. 55.
    For example, C.A. Krug and R.A. de Poerck, authors of the World Coffee Survey, (FAO, Rome, 1968), p.226 remark that ‘Costa Rica is an outstanding example of the effect of improved technology on production.’ See also the article ‘Costa Rica tiene una de los mas Avanzadas Tecnologicias para Producir Café’ La Prensa Libre (8 February 1975).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anthony Winson 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Winson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of GuelphCanada

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