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Oscar Arias

Political Leader

Born: 13 September 1941
Birthplace: Heredia, Costa Rica
Best known as: The Nobel Prize-winning president of Costa Rica
Oscar Arias Sanchéz is the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who has twice been president of Costa Rica. The son of prosperous coffee farmers, Arias earned degrees in law and economics from the University of Costa Rica, then then took a doctorate in political science from the University of Essex in England (1974). Returning to Costa Rica to teach political science, he joined the National Liberation Party and became active in politics with such success that in 1986 he was elected president. Central America at the time was a Cold War political battleground, and Arias managed not only to keep Costa Rica out of the fray, but to negotiate a peace plan among his neighbors in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. He was given the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Arias was a market-friendly socialist reformer who added tourism to the country's agricultural economic base. Prevented by law from running for reelection, he was succeeded by Rafael Calderon in 1990. Arias went on to serve with a variety of peace and human rights organizations, including his own Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. In 2006 he was again elected president of Costa Rica, with a term scheduled to run through 8 May 2010.
Extra credit: Arias married Margarita Penón Góngora in 1973. They have a son, Oscar Felipe, and a daughter Silvia Eugenia... The National Liberation Party is the English name for the Partido de Liberación Nacional, also called the PLN.

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