COSTA RICA: The Battle of San Jos

Taciturn, thirtyish Edgar Cardona is what Costa Ricans call a "finger soldier" —i.e., a soldier who has received his rank through favoritism ("Somebody points a finger at you and says: 'You're a corporal; you're a captain; you're a colonel.'"). In last year's civil war, Cardona was a colonel. Afterwards, Junta President Jose Figueres kept him on as Security Minister, even though he took to hobnobbing around San Jose with the President's conservative enemies.

When Figueres prepared to transform the army into a national police force, Cardona tried to slip one of his right-wing...

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