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(E) Croatian Presidents in the Americas
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  05/24/2003 | People | Unrated
(E) Croatian Presidents in the Americas

 

Croatian Presidents in the Americas

Nestor Kirchner  & Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich

Just this month we were treated to the news that Nestor Kirchner, who
will soon be inaugurated as Argentina's next President, is of Croatian
descent. A recent article in The New York Times noted that Kirchner's
mother was a Croatian born in Chile which, like Argentina, has a large
Croatian community.

Kirchner is not the first Croatian to lead an American country. That
honor belongs to a son of Punat and Cres, Francisco Orlich, who served
as President of Costa Rica from 1962 to 1966.

Francisco's grandfather, Franjo Orlic-Ladic, was born to a poor family
in Punat. He left Punat as a 16 year old lad and become a seaman. He
ended up in Costa Rica where he became a wealthy man.

Franjo did not cut his ties to his hometown - to the contrary, he, like
many people in our community today, invested in his homeland. In Punat,
Franjo built a villa called "Villa Costa Rica" and a hydraulic mill, and
opened a pasta factory which continued to operate until the Second World
War. Afterwards, the factory was converted into Punat's Park Hotel. He
also gave money to restore Punat's Holy Trinity parish church and to the
hospital in Krk and served as the first president of the
"Austrian-Croatian Steamship Association," established in Punat in 1906.

Francisco Orlich was born in Costa Rica the next year. His father Josip
had been born on Krk while his mother Georgina Bolmarcic Kamcic came
from Cres. Orlich visited Croatia twice, coming to Cres as a child and
visiting Rijeka and Punat in 1962 after being elected Costa Rican
president. Orlich died in 1969 and is buried in San Jose, Costa Rica's
capital.

Here in the United States, we are still waiting for our first
Croatian-American President. In 2000, Ohio Congressman John Kasich (now
a commentator with the Fox News Channel) made the attempt against George
W. Bush in the Republican primaries. For 2004, Dennis Kucinich, a
Congressman from Cleveland, is one of the candidates running in the
Democratic race.

John Kraljic

This is also being submitted for publication to Korijen, the newsletter
of the Croatian Apostolate in Astoria, New York. John Kraljic

Op-ed

Adding this Spanish text on Francisco Orlich

Nenad Bach

Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich
1907-1969

Nació en San Ramón el 10 de marzo de 1907. Muy joven se trasladó a los E.U.A., donde estudió contabilidad y administración de negocios. Al regresar a Costa Rica, administró las actividades agrícolas, comerciales e industriales de su familia. Trabajador franco, llano, inteligente, su actitud afable, campechana, despojada de hipocresía le atrajeron el afecto del campesino y el obrero. Hombre práctico y de gran acción.

Inició su carrera pública en San Ramón donde sirvió como presidente municipal de 1938 a 1940. Fue diputado durante tres períodos. Combatió durante la Guerra Civil de 1948 como comandante del Ejército de Liberación Nacional en el frente norte. En 1955, sirvió como comandante supremo de la fuerza pública contra la invasión destinada a derrocar al presidente Figueres. Ministro de Obras Públicas. Candidato a la presidencia para el periodo 1958-1962, fue derrotado por Mario Echandi al dividirse el Partido Liberación que lo postuló. Presentándose de nuevo como candidato, salió electo presidente en elecciones verificadas el 4 de febrero de 1962.

Sencillo, humilde y gran demócrata, se recuerdan con cariño sus ejemplares palabras: "Como presidente soy el primer servidor y es mi deber atender a todos los ciudadanos cumplidamente".

Murió el 29 de octubre de 1969 en San José. Sus restos reposan en los Jardines de la Catedral de San Ramón, de Alajuela.

Nombrado Benemérito de la Patria, por acuerdo Nº 1735 del 25 de abril de 1977.

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