Diario Extra – Guido Sáenz, creator of La Sabana, Melico Salazar and Plaza de la Cultura dies

Costa Rican culture is sad, after the death of the writer, painter, musician, art critic and former leader of the Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCJ), Guido Sáenz, at the age of 92, almost 93, as his birth was near. He was born in the city of San José, on January 1, 1929.

Sáenz was a genius and a figure. Under his management as a civil servant, in 1976, during the Oduber Quirós Administration, he created the Metropolitan Park of La Sabana, including the Peace Park. With the announcement of the advent of the new National Stadium, he opposed it, making it the news repeatedly for this issue, as he considered that the Colossus would negatively impact the purpose of the park: to be the lung of San José.

He came to the people after the Atisbos TV space, which he maintained for years, and in this he made a journey through the history of the great creators of Costa Rica in the 19th and 20th centuries, taking as their home the Museum of Costa Rican Art in La Sabana and using the most important painting of this place as a symbol of its space: “El Portón Rojo”, made by the great painter as a Costa Rican engineer Teodorico “Kiko” Quirós Alvarado, creator of the Gothic church of San Isidro de Coronado, among other great works.

But Sáenz also founded the Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Costa Rican Art Museum and advocated for major reforms in the National Symphony Orchestra.

In 1973, he created the Plaza de la Cultura and in 1980 the Melico Salazar Popular Theater.

He was awarded the Magón National Prize for Culture in 1988 for his contribution to the construction of institutions linked to cultural promotion.

In short, a fruitful and multifaceted character in the Costa Rican cultural scene. He served once again as a minister in the administration of former President Abel Pacheco.

It was precisely during that administration that he was controversial, criticizing the then director of the National Theater, Graciela Moreno, for including artists who, for his taste, were not suitable, such as the Cuban Albita, who sings salsa, to appear at the National Theater, and argued that those artists had to appear at the Melico Salazar Popular Theater. His mother was one of the best painters in Costa Rica, Luisa González de Sáenz.

In an interview with DIARIO EXTRA, he confirmed that he applied the crane to Graciela Moreno, director of the National Theater, to remove her from office.

The civil servant died weeks after the dismissal. According to Saenz himself to DIARIO EXTRA, “the lady bought many copies with the note and covered the room and passed by saying ‘he put the crane on me'”.

El Periódico del Pueblo conducted a survey among personalities of the political and cultural life of the country to find out their impressions regarding this sensitive death.

What do you think?

Richard Padilla


“Guido Sáenz. A very special being, very quixotic and at the same time very intuitive defending his ideals. He left his mark in his walk ”.

Edin Solis

Association of Composers and Musical Authors (ACAM)

“The history of art and culture in our country would not be the same without his great contribution. I had a feeling of gratitude and respect towards him ”.

Manuel Obregon

Former Minister of Culture and musician

“The departure of Don Guido Sáenz leaves us a great void in the national culture. He was a cultural manager committed to his time. Passionate fighter for the fine arts. During my years at the head of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, he honored me with his friendship and advice and unconditional support. He also leaves us an enormous legacy, the fruit of his courageous management at the head of the Ministry of Culture ”.

Oscar Arias

Former President of the Republic and Nobel Peace Prize

“Don Guido was with me in many of the most important moments of my political career. In moments of both joy and hope, as well as uncertainty and sadness. Throughout our ephemeral existence, as we unfold the gift of life and discover who is included in that gift, human beings have the opportunity, but also often the need, to choose who we admire. To choose who, with a reverential silence, we appreciate their struggles and their exploits, their favors and their sacrifices. I admired Don Guido Sáenz and that is why today I wanted to remember him ”.

Mario Zaldivar


“It is no secret to anyone that Guido Sáenz was more inclined to higher culture than to popular arts, however, during the last years of his life, he observed with more wisdom the work of our great composers, musicians and singers of a popular nature , perhaps because he understood that a bolero by Ricardo Mora was as valuable as the most sublime works of cultured music. Otherwise, I cannot explain how he authorized, as Minister of Culture, the publication of the first book of interviews with the main protagonists of Costa Rican popular music, a work of which I am the author, under the seal of the Ministry under his charge ”.

Charles Guzman

Costa Rican music teacher

“Visionary, he dreamed of a Costa Rica full of professional artists in painting, dance, theater and especially in music. He made his dreams come true by creating the Youth Symphony Orchestra; hotbed of current performers, composers and teachers. La Sabana, the current Ministry of Culture and Youth, bequeathed us parks and works of art that undoubtedly make him one of the most benefactor compatriots for our country. I propose him Benemérito de la Patria, so that future generations will remember him ”.

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Diario Extra – Guido Sáenz, creator of La Sabana, Melico Salazar and Plaza de la Cultura dies