If it hadn't been for Manuel Mora Valverde, Costa Rica would have never benefited from immensely important reforms such as the labor code, the socialized medicine system, public universities and many other institutions that contributed to the welfare of all citizens. Manuel Mora's childhood and raising had a lot to do with his thinking and actions later in life. Mora was born on August 27, 1909 in the capital city of San Jose. His mother, Lydia Valverde, was an educated woman and his father, Jose Laval Mora, was a blue-collar worker. International and local events would also shape Mora's destiny later in life. In 1917 the Russian Zar was overthrown, an event which also encouraged many workers in all countries to demand rights.
If it hadn't been for Manuel Mora Valverde, Costa Rica would have never benefited from immensely important reforms such as the labour code, the socialized medicine system, public universities and many other institutions that contributed to the welfare of all citizens. Manuel Mora's childhood and raising had a lot to do with his thinking and actions later in life. Mora was born on August 27, 1909 in the capital city of San Jose. His mother, Lydia Valverde, was an educated woman and his father, Jose Laval Mora, was a blue-collar worker. International and local events would also shape Mora's destiny later in life. In 1917 the Russian Zar was overthrown, an event which also encouraged many workers in all countries to demand rights.
Mora's father was a leader in a group of workers, but he wasn't a Communist or Socialist. 1917 was also the year when Federico Tinoco overthrew President Gonzalez Flores in Costa Rica. Since Mora's father was especially close to the president, he started organizing the workers against Tinoco, but soon had to leave the country because of imminent danger against his life. When Mora's father left, his mother became the single care-taker of Manuel and four more siblings. At this point is when the family had to face many adverse conditions that would make a strong impression on young Manuel. His two younger sisters became very ill, and they needed oxygen bags to survive; since the family was in bad economic shape, they couldn't afford to buy the bags, which resulted in the death of both girls. Manuel was only eight years old, but this terrible incident would make him strive for the establishment of a medical system that wouldn't deny poor people the right to heal and to live.
Manuel Mora V. became formally involved in politics at the early age of fifteen, when he was attending the Liceo de Costa Rica high school. Many teachers offered Mora scholarships to study abroad, but Mora denied these opportunities, arguing that there were too many injustices in Costa Rica that he had to fight for. In the 1930's, Mora would meet with many intellectuals at the house of Carmen Lira, one of the greatest thinker's and writers of this century. Some of these people were great minds, such as: Joaquin Garcia Monge, Carlos Luis Saenz, Romulo Betancourt, and Gonzalo and Luisa Gonzalez. Together they created the Communist Party in 1931. Mora, who at the time studied Law, was expelled twice because of his tumultuous and controversial political activity. Mora's energy and determination, however, were just starting to emerge.
The party's immediate success became apparent when, in 1933, Mora was elected Diputado (Congressman), an office which he held until 1948, when the Civil War began. During the 1930's Mora became a spokesman for the banana workers, who were suffering at the hands of the United Fruit Company and of the Costa Rican government. Mora and Carlos Luis Fallas, a famous writer and political leader, led many strikes of the banana workers.
In 1940, President Calderon Guardia was elected. He's given all of the credit for passing social reforms that were actually first proposed by Mora and his party. However, the Communist Party and its members weren't resentful at all, and they decided to support Calderon, when he started being attacked by the coffee elite. Calderon had declared the war on the Nazis in 1945, which even though it didn't have any international consequences, it had its internal ramifications. The coffee elite was annoyed at this declaration and at the socialist reforms which didn't favor them. Calderon decided to join forces and to form an extremely unusual and unlikely alliance- Calderon united with the Communist Party and with the Catholic Church! The Catholic Church was pleased when Calderon instituted obligatory religious teaching in schools, and the Communist Party was delighted when the President passed the social reforms. This unique coalition worked well until the Civil War of 1948, when Pepe Figueres, a politician, farm owner and philosopher overthrew President Calderon Guardia. The short-lived revolution ended less than five weeks later, when Mora, Nunez (religious leader) and Figueres met in Ochomogo in order to sign the peace treaty.
Mora and his long-time friend and political ally, Carmen Lira, travelled to Mexico after the Revolution, but Lira died only a year later. In 1950, Mora returned to Costa Rica. In 1977 he became the president of a new Communist party called Pueblo Unido, which later branched off into Vanguardia Popular and Pueblo Costarricense. Mora led the latter until 1988, when he retired from politics. Mora was named "Benemerito de la Patria", a title bestowed upon the greatest citizens of Costa Rica. Mora, the man who had turned human suffering and injustice into social reforms and social welfare, died at the age of 85, in 1994. Even though the majority of Costa Ricans didn't follow the Communist ideology, they did support and benefit tremendously from Socialist ideas and reforms. Therefore, Mora is not remembered as an extremist, but more as a man of action that contributed to what Costa Rica is today.