Rodrigo Carazo Odio, President of Costa Rica from 1978-1982, was a champion of peace with history of friendship with the University of Bridgeport.
Carazo was born in Cartago, Costa Rica in 1926. Before becoming President, he was the director of the central bank, and the general manager of Costa Rica’s nationalized oil refinery business. During and following his term as president, Carazo played a central role in the founding of the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica.
President Leland Miles, who represented the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) at the United Nations, held up the University for Peace as a model program that other universities ought to follow, and inspired the establishment of courses in peace studies at the University of Bridgeport.
Carazo was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Bridgeport under President Miles tenure on December 4, 1980. The following description of his work was printed in the program for the ceremony:
“If you desire peace, prepare for peace.”
These were the words of Rodrigo Carazo, president of Costa Rica, in his address to the 1978 General Assembly of the United Nations when he proposed establishment in his country of the University for Peace.
Perhaps few men can speak with such authority on the subject of peace. For he is head of state of a democracy which lives traditionally at peace with its neighbors and which has no standing army by constitutional law. It depends only on a small police force to maintain order.
Plato’s “Republic” was governed by philosopher-rulers. Carazo’s Costa Rica may not be such a republic, but most of the members of his cabinet are, like Carazo, university professors. This is reflected in the national budget, of which 50 percent goes to education.
The topic of his address, “Changing Social Policies, A Focus on the Caribbean,” relates directly to his work in Central and South America in matters relating to community development projects, housing, self-help and environmental improvement.
A graduate in Economic Sciences from the University of Costa Rica, he has taught there and at the Central University of Venezuela. He has been on special missions to Colombia, Puerto Rico and Venezuela on matters relating to housing. He has served as Director General of the Costa Rican Ministry of Economy, as manager of the Costa Rican Government Housing Authority and promoter and founder of the Savings and Loan Project in Venezuela. Other posts include those of director of the Costa Rican Central Bank, manager of the Costa Rican Oil Refining Company and member of the organizing committee of the Housing Savings and Loan System of Costa Rica.
In 1981, the triennial meeting of the IAUP was hosted in Costa Rica and the University of Peace was high on the agenda. Following his presidency, Mr. Carazo continued to develop the university and its curruculum.
In 1984, President Carazo returned to Bridgeport to be installed as a member of the Council of International Fellows (CIF). In 1985 he returned to Bridgeport again for a meeting of the CIF.
In 1992, when the University of Bridgeport fell on hard times and was considering going out of business, the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) brought President Carazo, a strong supporter of the organization, to make an impassioned appeal to the Board of Trustees to accept an offer for formal affiliation. That agreement became part of the financial foundation enabling the development of the International College at the University.
Later, President Carazo played a leadership role in trying to improve relations between the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the West, making several visits to Pyongyang in the early 1990s, contributing to the opening of unofficial channels of communication between the United States and North Korea.