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José María Figueres Olsen Family

José María Figueres was born on 24 December 1954 in San José, Costa Rica. He is the son of José "Pepe" Figueres and Karen Olsen. His father, Don Pepe, was President of Costa Rica three times (1948-1949, 1953-1958, 1970-1974), and his mother, besides fulfilling her responsibilities as first lady, has a distinguished career of public service as a Congresswoman and Ambassador. José María is the oldest of four siblings, José María, Christiana, Mariano and Kirsten. He also has an older brother, Marti and sister, Muni, from his father’s first marriage.

José María was born into a world of intense political and international activity. In 1948, his father, Don Pepe, led a revolution that culminated in the establishment of the Second Republic. With it came a radical realignment of Costa Rica’s politics – most notably the abolition of the country’s armed forces. Don Pepe’s legacy of heavy investment in education, health and expansion of the nation’s infrastructure has meant peace and prosperity for Costa Rica during the latter half of the 20th century. Beloved for his quick wit, sharp tongue and can-do attitude, Don Pepe is considered the father of modern-day Costa Rica.

José María grew up in “La Lucha”, a small factory town established by his father in 1928. He began his first years of schooling at the Escuela Cecilia Orlich Figueres, the public school of la Lucha. Given his Mother’s interest in José María learning several languages, he continued his school years at the Humboldt Schule and later graduated from the Lincoln High School in San José, as president of the student body. José María went on to study engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1979 with a major in Engineering.