Imágenes de páginas


The State of Costa Rica was not established as an independent republic until 21 January 1847, nine years after the dissolution of the Central American Confederation. Its Constitution as a federal State, which dated from 2 January 1825, then gave way to a new Constitution, which underwent a reform on 22 November 1818.2 From 1818 to 1859 Costa Rica attained to a remarkable degree of prosperity. New Constitutions were established 26 December 1859,3 18 February 1869 4 and 7 December 1871, the last of which was amended several times and was in force actually or nominally until the Constitution of 8 June 1917 was promulgated."


[PREAMBLE.] We, the representatives of the people of Costa Rica, having legitimately assembled to revise the political Constitution and to proceed to the total reformation thereof, in order to secure upon solid bases the common welfare and the benefits of liberty, and of a government adapted to the general necessities and conveniences, decree and sanction the following political Constitution.


ARTICLE 1. Costa Rica is and shall remain a free and independent Republic

It may, however, form a single political unit with one, several, or all of the other Republies of Central America.

1 English translation in British and Foreign State Papers, 35 : pp. 44-73.
* English translation in British and Foreign State Papers, 37: pp. 777-793.
* English translation in British and Foreign State Papers, 50 : pp. 1092-1111.
* English translation in British and Foreign State Paper8, 59 : pp. 216–235.

* English translation of Constitution of 7 December 1871 in British and Foreign State Papers, 63: pp. 294-313. Spanish text of Constitution of 1871 with amendments to 1905 in PatL POSENER, Die Staatsverfassungen des Erdballs (Charlottenburg, 1909). pp. 1096-1113; the same with English translation in parallel columns in J. I. RODRIGUEZ, American Constitutions, vol. 1 (Washington, 1906), pp. 326–357.

* English translations of the amendments of 26 April 1882 and 12 May 1897 are in British and Foreign State Papers, 73: pp. 608-609, and 89: p. 1129, respectively.

* This introductory paragraph is based upon F. R. DARESTE ET P. DARESTE, Les Constitutions modernes (3d edition, Paris, 1910), vol. II, pp. 566-567.

* Translated by ANTONIO M. Opisso from the official Spanish text as printed in La Gaceta of 13 June 1917.

The treaties of union which may be concluded for this purpose shall be submitted to Congress at the next ordinary session; should Congress approve said treaties by a vote of two thirds of the members present, it shall issue a call to the towns of the Republic to elect a Constituent Assembly for the sole purpose of ratifying or rejecting them.

Should the Assembly ratify said treaties by a vote of three fourths of the total number of its members, they shall become final and binding on the Republic. In this event it belongs to the Assembly to dictate the necessary laws for executing and carrying out said treaties.

Art. 2. The sovereignty resides essentially and exclusively in the nation, from whom public powers emanate, which powers are limited and must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

ART. 3. No public authority shall validly enter into compacts, agreements, or treaties which may jeopardize the sovereignty and independence of the Republic. Whoever is guilty of this attempt shall be held as a traitor.

The foregoing provision shall not prevent public treaties from being concluded and approved for a political union as provided for in Article 1; nor treaties to modify the boundaries of the national territory; nor those providing for the construction of any inter-oceanic canal which may affect the sovereignty over a part of the territory; nor treaties for the alienation of any island belonging to the State, situated at a distance of over one hundred miles from the coast.

In order that the treaties which may be concluded for any of the last three mentioned purposes may become valid, they shall be submitted to Congress at two different terms of session, whether ordinary or extraordinary, with an interval of two months at least between each term, and must be approved by a vote of three fourths of the total number of its members.

Railways and tramways belonging to the State and devoted to the public service can not be alienated. Neither can they be leased out unless a law should provide so in each case by a vote of two thirds of the respective chamber.

Art. 4. The government of the Republic is popular, representative, alternative and responsible.

It shall be vested in three different powers independent of each other, to be known as the legislative, the executive and the judicial powers.

The legislative power shall never grant omnimodous powers to the executive, or delegate to it the power to legislate; nor shall the legislative or the executive power in any case exercise judicial functions (except as provided for in the case of the Senate sitting as a court for political trials), nor take jurisdiction on pending cases or ask for


[ocr errors]

these to be brought before them od effectum videndi, nor cause the reopening of finished cases.

Art. 5. The territory of the Republic, which is situated between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, is bounded on the northwest by the Republic of Nicaragua, from which it is separated by the line established in the Treaty of Cañas-Jerez of 15 April 1858, and by Cleveland's Award of 22 March 1888. It is bounded on the southeast by the Republic of Panama, from which it is separated by the line established by Loubet's Award of 11 September 1900, the Anderson-Porras Treaty of 17 March 1910 and by White's Award of 12 September 1914.

Art. 6. No one shall assume the title of sovereign, and whoever should do so shall be prosecuted in accordance with the Penal Code.

No authority shall assume powers not granted to it by law.

Public officials are not owners, but mere depositories of authority. They are subject to the laws; they shall never be considered or held as superior to them, and they are directly and immediately responsible for the acts they may execute in the exercise of their functions. The action to accuse them shall be popular.

No venal employments are recognized.

ART. 7. All orders emanating from the legislative or executive powers which are contrary to the Constitution shall be null and void and without effect, whatever be the form in which they may be issued. Courts of justice shall not obey or apply them in any case.

All acts of those usurping public powers, and all employments given without the requirements demanded by the Constitution, or in default thereof, without the requirements provided by law, shall also be null and void.

ART. 8. The Roman Catholic Apostolic religion is the religion of the State. The State shall contribute to its support without thereby preventing the free exercise of any other form of worship which does not oppose universal morals or good customs.

The declaration referred to in this article does not affect existing legislation, nor hinder in any way the freedom of action of public powers in regard to any national interests.

ART. 9. Primary education shall be obligatory and gratuitous.

The State shall take charge of the public primary schools as well as of normal schools.

Primary schools which are supported by private individuals shall be under the supervision of the government.

The State shall maintain the institutions for secondary education now in existence, and has the power to create other centers of the same character and to contribute to their support and to that of professional schools which may be established either by public or private initiative. It has likewise the power to reestablish the University.

All Costa Ricans or foreigners are free to give or receive the instruction which they may deem convenient in those establishments which are not supported by public funds.

Art. 10. It is the duty of the State to look after the welfare of the working classes, and for this purpose it shall enact all necessary laws; in default of social initiative it shall promote, and in all cases it shall support to the extent of its resources, such institutions as may have for their object to harmonize, on the basis of justice, the relations between patrons and workmen, and those which tend to meliorate the financial status of the latter and to assist them in case of illness, old age or accident, cessation of work or other misfortunes independent of their will.

ART. 11. Every public official shall take an oath in accordance with the following formula:

Do you swear before God, and do you promise to your country to observe and defend the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, and to faithfully fulfill the duties of your office?

I do.
If you do so, may God help you; if not, may He and the country demand it

from you.

ART. 12. The military force is subordinated to the civil power; it is essentially passive and must never deliberate.


ART. 13. All men are equal before the law.

The State does not grant nobility titles or hereditary prerogatives or honors, nor does it recognize those granted by another nation.

It does not admit in any form the institution of slavery. The slave who arrives at Costa Rican territory shall, by that very fact, be held and treated as a free man.

Art. 14. No law shall be given retroactive effect to the prejudice of any person or of his vested rights.

Art. 15. The right of property is inviolable, and no one shall be deprived of his property except by virtue of a judicial decree, and for reasons of public utility judicially declared, and after payment of the actual value of both the property and the resulting damages which may be proved, all as appraised by experts.

In case of war or of internal disturbances, and only for the purpose of attending to the national defense or to the restoration of public order, the administrative authority shall declare the need of expropriation without previous indemnity. In this event real property shall be temporarily occupied only for military purposes or to devote the proceeds thereof to the needs of the army. The State is always liable for the expropriations, which the executive may make, either by himself or through his agents.


No law shall provide that private property shall become the property of the State in case that the owner thereof should have given it an inexact value for the purpose of taxation, and that the State, either by itself or through a third party, may offer to take it for the appraised value and a premium.

Mines may be claimed even on private land, but they shall not be worked or adjudicated without previous payment to the owner of the surface for the value of the land to be occupied and the damages resulting therefrom, as the authorities may order and experts may appraise.

ART. 16. No one shall be prevented from engaging in any profession, industry, commerce or work he may desire, provided they are lawful. This right shall only be restricted by a judicial decree whenever the rights of a third party are impaired or by an administrative order issued in accordance with the law, whenever the public security or health or the interests of the nation demand it.

The law shall determine what professions require a degree and what conditions must be fulfilled in order to obtain said degree.

Foreigners may engage in the liberal professions provided Costa Ricans enjoy the same rights in their respective countries.

Art. 17. No person shall be imprisoned for debts of purely civil character.

ART. 18. Private actions which do not affect public order or morals or which do not result to the injury of a third party are beyond the

a pale of law.

ART. 19. No one shall be molested or prosecuted for any act which does not violate the law, nor for any written or spoken statement of his political opinions. Nevertheless, neither clergymen nor laymen shall in any manner make political propaganda invoking motives of religion or making use, as a means for such propaganda, of the religious beliefs of the people.

ART. 20. No one shall do justice by himself, or execute any acts of violence to enforce his rights. The power to judge civil and criminal cases belongs exclusively to the tribunals of justice.

ART. 21. All Costa Ricans or foreigners must apply to law to seek redress for the injuries or damages which they may have suffered in their person, property, or honor. Prompt and full justice must be dealt in strict conformity with the laws.

Courts of justice shall not be excused from exercising their authority on the ground of lack of legal provision, which may settle the litigation or conclude the case submitted to their decision. If there is no law applicable, they shall apply the general principles of law and of eternal justice.

« AnteriorContinuar »