Sometimes referred to as “The Nacho Gonzalez“, Juan Santamaria is credited with turning the tide of war against famous redneck filibuster William Walker during the Second Battle of Rivas.
According to historians, after multiple attempts to light the filibustero’s fort afire fell flat, the unassuming drummer boy and soon-to-be hero, Juan stepped forward on the sole condition that someone would look after his mother if he lost his life in the process.
And lost his life he did. But not before tossing a burning wrench into their flammable gears. You see this adobe structure with a clay roof unlike modern adobe structures with clay roofs was somehow flammable. And thanks to Juan’s impeccable aim and exploding nuclear torch the enemy troops were quickly forced to flee the burning building and Double Paid Democracy has prevailed every May 11th since.
Although Juan’s fantastic tale of personal sacrifice in the name of Freedom continues to inspire hundreds of millions of Ticos per day, not everyone is inspired. Especially not Jorge Montoya, the UCR historian who claims the hero never existed. Montoya doesn’t deny the existence of Juan Santa Maria per se, in fact he insist there were at least five Juan Santamarias involved in the Battle of Rivas, which obviously is way more national heroes than a country the size of Costa Rica needs. On a side note The Costa Rica Post imagines that Montoya doesn’t get invited to a lot of BBQ’s this time of year.
Regardless of what you believe, fairy tale or not, Juan Santamaria is an important character in Costa Rican history right up there with Franklin Chan, José María Figueres, and the Pegando Porte Y La Vara dude.
From our family to yours we wish you a Happy Juan Santamaría day, unless of course, your last name happens to be “Walker”.