(b. 25 Sept. 1906, d. 8 June 1990).
President of Costa Rica 1953–8, 1970–4 Active in Costa Rican politics as a member of the social democrat Partido de Liberación Nacional (PLN, Party of National Liberation), he led a civilian uprising in 1948 against the incumbent government's attempt to annul the election of the PLN's candidate for the presidency. He remained in power for the following months and introduced structural reforms to weaken the country's powerful institutions, abolishing the army and nationalizing the banks. In addition, he carried out welfare and educational reforms, and introduced universal suffrage. His efforts to strengthen democracy climaxed in the 1949 constitution, which has been the basis of the country's political stability ever since. After stepping down from the leadership of his country in 1949, he was twice elected President. In his two periods in office, Figueres continued in his efforts to enhance the country's democratic traditions. His son served as President between 1994 and 1998.