Twice serving President of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias Sánchez was born on 13 September 1940 to a wealthy, coffee-growing family. From an early age, he told his relatives that he wanted to become president. He briefly studied medicine at Boston University before abandoning the course to return home to law and economics at the University of Costa Rica. He also holds a degree from the London School of Economics and a doctorate from the University of Essex.
Arias joined the National Liberation Party (PLN) in 1962 and quickly attracted the notice of three times Costa Rican president José Figueres Ferrer. He served as an economic advisor and minister under Figueres and was elected to the national legislative assembly in 1978.
In 1986, he was elected as President of Costa Rica. He met with the presidents of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and was able to establish a framework for economic cooperation, peaceful conflict resolution and free and democratic elections across the region, for which he was awarded the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize. His first term ended in 1990.
In 2003, Arias was successful in challenging the constitutional amendment that forbade non-consecutive re-election to the post of president, and went on to defeat Ottón Solis in the 2006 elections. During his second term he forged closer ties with the People’s Republic of China (breaking former links with Taiwan), took Costa Rica into the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and was chief mediator in the 2009 Honduran Constitutional Crisis.
Arias’s presidential term ended in 2010, and he was succeeded by his protégée Laura Chinchilla.
Check out a full list of interviewees for the film here.