The country is the star in a disarmament campaign capitalizing on the 60-year-long absence of a military. And the campaign has a promotional dimension, too, as up to 14 million persons are invited to become virtual citizens.
The campaign also seeks to arrange person-to person exchanges between Ticos and individuals elsewhere on the topic of living in a country without an army.
The goals of the campaign are elimination of nuclear weapons, world disarmament and a reduction of 10 percent in the military budget by countries of the world.
The campaign is funded by the Red Global Juvenil de Religiones por la Paz and the Fundación Arias para la Paz y el Progreso Humano de Costa Rica. The concept is by JWT de Costa Rica, an arm of the international advertising and public relations agency.
The campaign had its start last month, but the Web site that seeks to unite peoples only went up two weeks ago.
The project has the support of Óscar Arias Sánchez and of Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.
The reduction in the military budget is a long-standing project by Arias, who left the presidency May 8. The savings generated by reduction of military budgets would guarantee that the U.N. millennium development goals could be reached by 2015, according to the campaign organizers.
The project hopes to obtain 14 million electronic signatures from persons around the world, JWT cites Arias as saying. The Web site said that 5,002 persons already have signed in support of the goals.
JWT said it hopes to gather the millions of signatures by Nov. 16 so that a document bearing the name can be presented to the United Nations.
"Be part of Costa Rica, a country with no army,"
the Web site says. The site contains a page with what is called a Costa Rican passport where visitors can put their names and even a photo. Visitors to the page can then see photos of others who support the message. There also is a Facebook page.
Those living in Costa Rica are invited to become spokespersons for the country. The Web site is in Spanish and English.
Only the Asamblea Legislativa can award honorary citizenship, so being a virtual citizen has no legal meaning. But foreigners who visit the page are introduced to the country's provinces and can download information on tourist sites.
José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army when he was president of a ruling junta after the 1948 civil war. Although the act as been immortalized as a vote for peace, Figueres had just defeated the national army in the war and feared a countercoup, historians say. Costa Rica maintains a 20,000-member police force, although it does not have heavy weaponry.
JWT, headquartered in New York, is the world's fourth largest advertising agency and was known as J. Walter Thompson until five years ago.
Opposing military spending has been a constant with Arias. "No one ever killed poverty with a bullet," said Arias in a September speech. He noted that Latin America spends $60 billion each year on the military.
AMCOSTARICA.Com San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164