Nicaragua History – Last 100 Years

Nicaragua’s history has been marked with political instability.  In 1909 the US sent military forces to help the Nicaraguan conservative forces take down President José María Zelaya after 500 revolutionaries were killed by Zelaya.  This began a period of where US Marines occupied Nicaragua from 1912 until 1933.  As a result of the Marine presence in the country, baseball was introduced to the locals.  Today baseball is still the most popular sport in Nicaragua. 

Nicaragua History last 100 Years

The US occupation provided some stability in the country but it had its repercussions.  Many Nicaraguans did not appreciate the US presence and influence in the country.  One of these people was Augusto César Sandino who resented the Marine occupation of Nicaragua and waged war on the US.  He received support for his missions from Mexico where he had spent a few years living.  Sandino engaged in successful guerilla warfare against the marines.  The Marines finally had to withdraw from the country because of the Great Depression so after helping put in President Juan Bautista Sacasa, the US Marines left Nicaragua.  Sandino had come to a peace agreement with President Sacasa.  Sandino had agreed to have his men surrender and give up there arms in exchange for amnesty.  However, when he showed up 1934 to Managua he was assassinated by Anastacio Somoza, the head of the National Guard.  Somoza and the National Guard had been put in place by the US.  Two years later Somoza helped take down President Sacasa and got himself put in power.  The Somoza family dictatorship would last until the revolution in 1979.

Nicaragua Magazine History SandinoBy 1972 Nicaragua had a booming economy and was considered the strongest country in Central America.  However, in December that year Managua was hit with a devastating earthquake that leveled the city.  This weakened the economy and the power of Somoza.  It was the beginning of the end for Somoza as the people were growing increasingly tired of the corruption.  This gave the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) more support.  The FSLN tied their ideology with that of the fold hero Sandino.  They were lead by Daniel Ortega who married into the Sandino bloodline and was one of the key leaders in the FSLN.  Finally, in 1979 the Sandinista Liberation Front was able to take down Somoza from power. 

The revolution of 1979 was followed by a civil war in the 1980’s.  The Sandinistas who had taken power had no experience running a country.  As a result the economy suffered, infrastructure got worse and the people grew unhappy.  The US government helped support the opposition, financially backing the contras.  The contras were lead by many ex Somoza supporters but also many who had grown unhappy with the direction of the Sandinista government.  Daniel Ortega was the president from 1985 until 1990. 

In 1990, Ortega was the favorite to win re-election but was defeated by Violeta Chamorro.  President Chamorro was the wife of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro an outspoken critic of the Somoza dictatorship who was eventually assassinated by Somoza.  President Chamorro had once been a supporter of the Sandinista cause but like many had grown unhappy with the direction they were taking the country.  Chamorro’s presidency was a peaceful but little economic improvement

In 1996 Arnoldo Alemán defeated Daniel Ortega in the presidential election.  Alemán had been the mayor of Managua and had done a good job of cleaning up the city of the remaining rubble from the earthquake of 1972 and the chaos of the 1980’s.  President Alemán’s election brought a lot of hope.  Many hoped he could attract a lot of outside investors and help fuel the economy.  However, by the end of his presidency in 2001 Aleman had take millions of dollars and accumulated property all around Nicaragua.

His vice president Enrique Bolaños won the in 2001 presidency and subsequently had Alemán imprisoned for all the corruption that took place under his watch. Alemán ended up under house arrest for a few years but then with some political dealings with Ortega was freed.  Ortega had won the presidency once again in 2006.  The elections are in November and Ortega had the laws changed so that he could run for re-election.  Ortega’s current presidency has been a more peaceful one than the last one.  Tourism has improved but the presidency like most before it has been marked with corruption.

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Comments

  1. Maria Garcia-Eggly says:

    From a jewel to the poorest int Central America thanks to US Foreign Policy. They feared communisim but where fully okay with taking down a DEMOCRATICALLY elected President.

    In 1909 the US sent military forces to help the Nicaraguan conservative forces take down President José María Zelaya. Many Nicaraguans did not appreciate the US presence and influence in the country.
    “Infuence”? OCCUPATION.

    Anastacio Somoza, the head of the National Guard (Trained by US at Fort Bragg where all latin American dictators and death squads get their training) murdered Sandino in a sanctioned US assassination. Two years later Somoza helped take down President Sacasa and put himself put in power. The Somoza family dictatorship would last until the revolution in 1979. A civil war in the 1980’s.

    “The Sandinistas who had taken power had no experience running a country. As a result the economy suffered, infrastructure got worse and the people grew unhappy.” WRONG! The US sanctioned war (see Iran -Contra) which supported the oligarchy and the ensuing embargo against the new democratically elected Nicaraguan governments is what prevented the flourishing of a robust economy and any positive outcomes for the peoples wishes of self determination.

    “In 1996 Arnoldo Alemán defeated Daniel Ortega in the presidential election”. Surprise! Alemán was the US groomed politician to restore the oligarchy’s power. Again, the Nicaraguan peoples resources were drained into their pockets (the legacy of US intervention in Latin America.)

    I last visited my parents homeland (refugees from the marine invasion) in 2007. The people are the most friendly I have ever encountered (compared to Europe) even though they have been ravaged by war and poverty imposed by the US government. They understand the American people are not one and the same.

    This is sad because it is a one way street. Nicaraguans love Americans, yet again the US sees no value in their neighbors to the south. Who are the big investors? China and Arabs. They are dumping millions into land projects to improve infrastructure, and rebuild the country. The big project is the highway from coast to coast to join the English speaking east to the west. Commerce will flourish and prosperity will follow. In all the decades the US was in Nicaragua, why couldn’t they build that highway? The US legacy in Nicaragua has been a disaster, as in most of the Central and South American countries. Nothing but death and poverty.

    There is a resilience in the people of my ancestors, and it makes me proud. I saw first hand the efforts of change in law enforcement as my group met with the Police Commissioner in Granada a former Sandinista freedom fighter, a woman in her 40′s she spoke of the efforts to create a reputable and trustworthy police force in the face of a dire economy. Their needs are great at the Academy. Where is US aid now?

    I love Nicaragua, and I hope to return someday soon. Yo soy Pinolera!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Leading up to the earthquake in 1972, Managua was the most important and beautiful city in Central America.  The earthquake damage followed by the civil war in the 1980’s set the city back decades.  Many of the ruins of the earthquake remained in the city until the 1990’s.  You can learn more about Nicaraguan history over the last one hundred years here. [...]

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