Patriotic symbol of the Republic of Costa Rica, the national anthem was created in a rather curious way. The music and the lyrics of the current national anthem of Costa Rica date from different dates.

History of the National Anthem of Costa Rica

The Music   Unlike other neighboring countries, Costa Rica did not have an anthem. In June 1852, Juan Rafael Mora Porras received the visit of important diplomatic missions from Great Britain and the United States and requested the creation of an anthem for that day. Don José Joaquín Mora, brother of the president, asked the young musician Manuel María Gutiérrez, general director of bands and director of the San José Military Band, to compose the music for a National Anthem for Costa Rica. Legend has it that the composer Manuel María Gutiérrez had to compose the music of the anthem locked up in a cell, for refusing the order given by the president to compose the anthem in twenty-four hours. At noon on June 11, 1852, at the Government House, the San José Military Band played for the first time the notes of the National Anthem of Costa Rica. The music had to wait 127 years for its officialization, and it was not until September 1, 1979 by means of decree Nº 10471-E, being president Rodrigo Carazo, that the respective decree was promulgated.

The Lyrics

Curious fact: there were three different lyrics before the current one. The first lyric was written by the Colombian poet José Manuel Lleras and premiered in 1873. In 1879, the second was by the seminarian from Cartago, Juan Garita y Guillén. The third was written in 1888 by the Spanish pedagogue Juan Fernández Ferraz, with arrangements by José Campabadal. On July 2, 1903, President Ascención Esquivel Ibarra held a public contest. On August 24, 1903, a jury awarded the prize to the young poet José María “Billo” Zeledón. On June 10, 1949, President Figueres Ferrer, by decree No. 551, officially declared the letter.

National Anthem of Costa Rica

Modern Controversy over the Lyrics

In 2010, a controversy was sparked by the lyrics. In fact, the hymn sings: “you will see your people, brave and virile, the rough tool in weapons change” and “in the tenacious struggle of fruitful work that reddens the face of man“, thus excluding Costa Rican women. Of course, this letter was written in 1903 at a time when men dominated the whole of life in Costa Rica. The case was taken to the Constitutional Court, when a woman filed a complaint requesting the modification and modernization of the lyrics.

Author: M. Barrantes for Sensorial Sunsets