Peace by Disarmament
War raged throughout Central America. The Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua with Soviet backing, and right-wing military governments fought guerrilla insurgencies in El Salvador and Guatemala, while tensions in Honduras were fueled by millions in military aid from the United States and the USSR. Oscar Arias dared to advocate for peace against these powerful Cold War interests and to broker the Arias Peace Plan, which brought a cessation of fighting to his neighbors and prosperity to his own peaceful country of Costa Rica. Born in 1940, Arias studied law and economics at the University of Costa Rica and received a doctoral degree at the University of Essex, England. Appointed minister of planning and economic policy in Costa Rica in 1972, he was elected to Congress in 1978 and to the presidency in 1986. On the day he was inaugurated, Arias called for an alliance for democracy and social and economic liberty throughout Latin America. In 1987, he drafted the peace plan, which led to the Esquipulas II accords, signed by all the Central American presidents on August 7. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending conflict in the region. Since then, Arias has used his considerable moral authority to embark on a worldwide campaign for human development, democracy, and demilitarization, applying the lessons from the Central American peace process to conflicts across the globe. From 2006 until May 2010, President Arias served his second term as president of Costa Rica.