Nicaraguan Revolution

The Nicaraguan Revolution (Spanish: Revolución Nicaragüense or Revolución Popular Sandinista) encompassed the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the dictatorship in 1978–79, the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990,[13] and the Contra War, which was waged between the FSLN-led government of Nicaragua and the United States-backed Contras from 1981-1990.

The Revolution marked a significant period in Nicaraguan history and revealed the country as one of the major proxy war battlegrounds of the Cold War with the events in the country rising to international attention.

The initial overthrow of the Somoza regime in 1978–79 was a bloody affair, and the Contra War of the 1980s took the lives of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and was the subject of fierce international debate. During the 1980s, both the FSLN (a leftist collection of political parties) and the Contras (a rightist collection of counter-revolutionary groups) received large amounts of aid from the Cold War superpowers (respectively, the Soviet Union and the United States).

The Contra War ended after the signing of the Tela Accord in 1989 and the demobilization of the FSLN and Contra armies.[14] A second election in 1990 resulted in the election of a majority of anti-Sandinista parties and the FSLN handing over power.

Nicaraguan Revolution
Part of the Central American crisis and the Cold War
Date1961–1990 (29 years)

FSLN military victory in 1979


Nicaragua Somoza government

Contras (1981–90)
Supported by:
 United States
 Saudi Arabia[1][2][3]
 Chile (since 1973)[4]
Brazil Brazil
 Argentina (1961–83)
 West Germany
Iran Imperial State of Iran (until 1979)
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran (Indirectly, since 1979)[6]


Supported by:
Flag of Libya (1977–2011).svg Libya[7]
 Soviet Union
 Romania (until 1989)
 Czechoslovakia (until 1989)
 Poland (until 1989)[7][10]
 East Germany (until 1989)
 Chile (19701973)
Commanders and leaders
Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Nicaragua Enrique Bermúdez
Daniel Ortega
Carlos Fonseca (1959–1976) 
Humberto Ortega
Joaquin Cuadra
Tomás Borge
Edén Pastora (1961–81)
Casualties and losses

(1978–79) 10,000 total killed[12]

(1981–89) 10,000–43,000 total killed, best estimate using most detailed battle information is 30,000 killed.[12]


Following the United States occupation of Nicaragua in 1912 during the Banana Wars, the Somoza family political dynasty came to power, and would rule Nicaragua from 1937 until their ouster in 1979 during the Nicaraguan Revolution. The Somoza dynasty consisted of Anastasio Somoza García, his eldest son Luis Somoza Debayle, and finally Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The era of Somoza family rule was characterized by rising inequality and political corruption, strong US support for the government and its military,[15] as well as a reliance on US-based multinational corporations.[16]

Rise of the FSLN

In 1961 Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga, and Tomás Borge Martínez formed the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) with other student activists at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) in Managua. For the founding members of the FSLN, this was not their first experience with political activism. Amador, first General Secretary of the organization, had worked with others on a newspaper "broadly critical" of the Somoza reign titled Segovia.[17]

Consisting of approximately 20 members during the 1960s, with the help of students, the organization gathered support from peasants and anti-Somoza elements within Nicaraguan society, as well as from the communist Cuban government, the socialist Panamanian government of Omar Torrijos, and the social democratic Venezuelan government of Carlos Andrés Pérez.[18]

By the 1970s the coalition of students, farmers, businesses, churches, and a small percentage of Marxists was strong enough to launch a military effort against the regime of longtime dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The FSLN focused on guerrilla tactics almost immediately, inspired by the campaigns of Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara. Penetrating the Northern coast of Nicaragua, the Río Coco/Bocay-Raití campaign was largely a failure: "when guerrillas did encounter the National Guard, they had to retreat…with heavy losses."[19] Further operations included a devastating loss near the city of Matagalpa, during which Mayorga was killed, which led Amador to a "prolonged period of reflection, self-criticism and ideological debate."[20] During this time, the FSLN reduced attacks, instead focusing on solidifying the organization as a whole.

Overthrow of the Somoza regime

Insurrección de Estelí
A M4 Sherman tank of the Nicaraguan National Guard during clashes with Sandinista rebels in Estelí, 1979

In the 1970s the FSLN began a campaign of kidnappings which led to national recognition of the group in the Nicaraguan media and solidification of the group as a force in opposition to the Somoza Regime.[18] The Somoza Regime, which included the Nicaraguan National Guard, a force highly trained by the U.S. military, declared a state of siege, and proceeded to use torture, extra-judicial killings, intimidation and censorship of the press in order to combat the FSLN attacks.[18] This led to international condemnation of the regime and in 1978 the administration of U.S. president Jimmy Carter cut off aid to the Somoza regime due to its human rights violations (Boland Amendment). In response, Somoza lifted the state of siege in order to continue receiving aid.[6]

On 10 January 1978, the editor of the Managua newspaper La Prensa, and founder of the Union for Democratic Liberation (UDEL), Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal was murdered by suspected elements of the Somoza regime, and riots broke out in the capital city, Managua, targeting the Somoza regime.[21] Following the riots, a general strike on 23–24 January called for the end of the Somoza regime and was, according to the U.S. State Department staff at the U.S. Embassy, successful at shutting down around 80% of businesses in not only Managua but also the provincial capitals of León, Granada, Chinandega, and Matagalpa.[21]

In the words of William Dewy, an employee of Citi Bank who witnessed the riots in Managua:

Our offices at the time were directly across the street from La Prensa and in the fighting that followed part of our branch was burned, but not intentionally. They were going after the Somoza-owned bank. In the turmoil they torched the [Somoza] bank and our building also burnt down. It was clear [to the U.S. business community] that the Chamorro assassination had changed things dramatically and permanently for the worse. — Interview with Morris H. Morley, 17 October 1988[21]

On 22 August 1978 the FSLN staged a massive kidnapping operation. Led by Éden Pastora, the Sandinistan forces captured the National Palace while the legislature was in session, taking 2,000 hostages. Pastora demanded money, the release of Sandinistan prisoners, and, "a means of publicizing the Sandinista cause."[6] After two days, the government agreed to pay $500,000 and to release certain prisoners, marking a major victory for the FSLN.[18] Revolts against the state continued as the Sandinistas received material support from Venezuela and Panama. Further support would stem from Cuba in the form of "arms and military advising."[6]

In early 1979 the Organization of American States supervised negotiations between the FSLN and the government. However, these broke down when it became clear that the Somoza regime had no intention of allowing democratic elections to take place.

By June 1979 the FSLN controlled all of the country except the capital, and on 17 July President Somoza resigned and the FSLN entered Managua,[18] giving full control of the government to the revolutionary movements.

Sandinista regime

Immediately following the fall of the Somoza regime, Nicaragua was largely in ruins. The country had suffered both war and, earlier, natural disaster in the devastating 1972 Nicaragua earthquake. In 1979, approximately 600,000 Nicaraguans were homeless and 150,000 were either refugees or in exile,[22] out of a total population of just 2.8 million.[23]

In response to these issues, a state of emergency was declared. President Carter sent US$99 million in aid. Land and businesses of the Somoza regime were expropriated, the old courts were abolished, and workers were organized into Civil Defense Committees. The new regime also declared that "elections are unnecessary", which led to criticism from the Catholic Church, among others.[6]

Economic reforms

The Revolution ended the burden the Somocista regime had imposed upon the Nicaraguan economy and which had seriously deformed the country, creating a big and modern center, Managua, where Somoza's power had emanated to all corners of the territory. Somoza had developed an almost semifeudalist rural economy with few productive goods, such as cotton, sugar and other tropical agricultural products. All sectors of the economy of Nicaragua were determined, in great part if not entirely, by the Somozas or the officials and others surrounding the regime, whether by directly owning agricultural brands and trusts, or actively putting them into local or foreign hands. It is famously stated that Somoza himself owned 1/5 of all profitable land in Nicaragua. While this is not correct, Somoza or his adepts did own or give away banks, ports, communications, services and massive amounts of land.[24]

The Nicaraguan Revolution brought immense restructuring and reforms to all three sectors of the economy, directing it towards a mixed economy system. The biggest economic impact was on the primary sector, agriculture, in the form of the Agrarian Reform, which was not proposed as something that could be planned in advanced from the beginning of the Revolution but as a process that would develop pragmatically along with the other changes (economic, political, etc.) that would arise during the Revolution period.[25]

Economic reforms overall needed to rescue out of limbo the inefficient and helpless Nicaraguan economy. As a "third-world" country, Nicaragua had, and has, an agriculture-based economy, undeveloped and susceptible to the flow of market prices for its agricultural goods, such as coffee and cotton. The Revolution faced a rural economy well behind in technology and, at the same time, devastated by the guerrilla warfare and the soon to come civil war against the Contras.

Article 1 of the Agrarian Reform Law says that property is guaranteed if it laboured efficiently and that there could be different forms of property:

  • state property (with the confiscated land from somocistas)
  • cooperative property (part of confiscated land, but without individual certificates of ownership, to be laboured efficiently)
  • communal property in response to reinvindication from people and communities from Miskito regions in the Atlantic
  • individual property (as long as this is efficiently exploited and integrated to national plans of development)[25]

The principles that presided Agrarian Reform were the same ones for the Revolution: pluralism, national unity and economic democracy.[25]

The Nicaraguan Agrarian Reform developed into four phases:

  1. phase (1979): confiscation of property owned by Somocistas and its adepts
  2. phase (1981): Agrarian Reform Law of 19 July 1981
  3. phase (1984–85): massive cession of land individually, responding to demands from peasantry
  4. phase (1986): Agrarian Reform Law of 1986, or "reform to the 1981 Law"

In 1985, the Agrarian Reform distributed 235,000 acres (950 km2) of land to the peasantry. This represented about 75 percent of all land distributed to peasants since 1980. According to Project, the agrarian reform had the twofold purpose of increasing the support for the government among the campesinos, and guaranteeing ample food delivery into the cities. During 1985, ceremonies were held throughout the countryside in which Daniel Ortega would give each peasant a title to the land and a rifle to defend it.[26]

Cultural Revolution

The Nicaraguan Revolution brought many cultural improvements and developments. Undoubtedly, the most important was the planning and execution of the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign (Cruzada Nacional de Alfabetización). The literacy campaign used secondary school students, university students as well as teachers as volunteer teachers. Within five months they reduced the overall illiteracy rate from 50.3% to 12.9%.[27] As a result, in September 1980, UNESCO awarded Nicaragua with the "Nadezhda K. Krupskaya" award for their successful literacy campaign. This was followed by the literacy campaigns of 1982, 1986, 1987, 1995 and 2000, all of which were also awarded by UNESCO.[28] The Revolution also founded a Ministry of Culture, one of only three in Latin America at the time, and established a new editorial brand, called Editorial Nueva Nicaragua and, based on it, started to print cheap editions of basic books rarely seen by Nicaraguans at all. It also founded an Instituto de Estudios del Sandinismo (Institute for Studies of Sandinismo) where it printed all of the work and papers of Augusto C. Sandino and those that cemented the ideologies of FSLN as well, such as Carlos Fonseca, Ricardo Morales Avilés and others. The key large scale programs of the Sandinistas received international recognition for their gains in literacy, health care, education, childcare, unions, and land reform.[29][30]

Human rights violations


According to The Heritage Foundation, censorship of the press under the new Sandinista regime began almost immediately. La Prensa, an independent newspaper of the country, was censored, despite its previous role as vocal opposition to the Somoza government. No information regarded as negative towards the Sandinistas was permitted to be published. All reporting was required to be submitted to government censors seven hours prior to printing.[31] The Heritage Foundation claims that a "spy on your neighbor" system was instituted early in the Sandinista reign. This system promoted citizens to report any activity deemed counter to the revolution to the authorities. Those reported faced harassment from security representatives, including the destruction of property. Similar systems were apparent in Soviet-bloc countries.[31]

On the contrary, the French journalist Viktor Dedaj, who lived in Managua in the 1980s, notes that La Prensa was generally sold freely and that the majority of radio channels were anti-Sandinista.[32]

Miskito People

A further human rights violation arose in the government treatment of the Miskito people.[31] [33] Over 15,000 Miskitos were forced to relocate, their villages were destroyed, and killings not only went unpunished, but were promoted.[34]

Allegations of anti-Semitism

According to The Heritage Foundation, following the FSLN rise to power, it was claimed that Nicaraguan Jews became an often targeted group for discrimination. Jewish citizens faced physical attacks, confiscation of property without cause, and arbitrary arrests. However, investigations conducted by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and Pax Christi between 1979 and 1983 refuted allegations of anti-Semitism. Some Jewish people were expropriated for their collaboration with the Somoza regime, but not because they were Jewish. Moreover, there was the example of the high ranking Sandinista and mayor of Managua, Herty Lewites, who was of Jewish descent.[35]

Contra War

Contra commandas 1987
Contra Commandos from FDN and ARDE Frente Sur, Nueva Guinea area in 1987
Smoke break el serrano 1987
Members of ARDE Frente Sur taking a smoke break after routing the FSLN garrison at El Serrano in southeast Nicaragua in 1987.

Although the Carter Administration had attempted to work with FSLN in 1979 and 1980, the more right-wing Reagan Administration supported a strong anti-communist strategy for dealing with Latin America, and so it attempted to isolate the Sandinista regime.[36] As early as 1980-1981 an anti-Sandinista movement, the Contrarrevolución (Counter-revolution) or just Contras, was forming along the border with Honduras. Many of the initial Contras were former members of the Somoza regime's National Guard unit and many were still loyal to Somoza, who was living in exile in Honduras.[36]

In addition to the Contra units who continued to be loyal to Somoza, the FSLN also began to face opposition from members of the ethnic minority groups that inhabited Nicaragua's remote Mosquito Coast region along the Caribbean Sea. These groups were demanding a larger share of self-determination and/or autonomy, but the FSLN refused to grant this and began using forced relocations and armed force in response to these grievances.[36]

Upon taking office in January 1981, Ronald Reagan cancelled the dispersal of economic aid to Nicaragua,[37] and on 6 August 1981 he signed National Security Decision Directive number 7, which authorized the production and shipment of arms to the region but not their deployment.[38] On 17 November 1981, President Reagan signed National Security Directive 17, authorizing covert support to anti-Sandinista forces.[37]

An armed conflict soon arose, adding to the destabilization of the region which had been unfolding through the Central American civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala. The Contras, heavily backed by the CIA, secretly opened a "second front" on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast and Costa Rican border. With the civil war opening up cracks in the national revolutionary project, the FSLN's military budget grew to more than half of the annual budget.[36] The Servicio Militar Patriótico (Patriotic Military Service), a compulsory draft, was also established.[39]

By 1982 Contra forces had begun carrying out assassinations of members of the Nicaraguan government, and by 1983 the Contras had launched a major offensive and the CIA was helping them to plant mines in Nicaragua's harbors to prevent foreign weapons shipments from arriving.[40] The 1987 Iran–Contra affair placed the Reagan Administration again at the center of secret support for the Contras.

1984 general election

Daniel Ortega was sworn in as the first term of President on January 10, 1985.

The 1984 election took place on 4 November. Of the 1,551,597 citizens registered in July, 1,170,142 voted (75.41%). The null votes were 6% of the total. International observers declared the elections free and fair,[41] despite the Reagan administration denouncing it as a "Soviet style sham". The national averages of valid votes for president were:

  • Daniel Ortega, Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) – 66.97%
  • Clemente Guido, Democratic Conservative Party (PCD) – 14.04%
  • Virgilio Godoy, Independent Liberal Party (PLI) – 9.60%
  • Mauricio Diaz, Popular Social Christian Party (PPSC) – 5.56%
  • Allan Zambrana, Nicaraguan Communist Party (PCdeN) – 1.45%
  • Domingo Sánchez Sancho, Nicaraguan Socialist Party (PSN) – 1.31%
  • Isidro Téllez, Marxist–Leninist Popular Action Movement (MAP-ML) – 1.03%


The Esquipulas Peace Agreement was an initiative in the mid-1980s to settle the military conflicts that had plagued Central America for many years, and in some cases (notably Guatemala) for decades. It built upon groundwork laid by the Contadora Group from 1983 to 1985. The agreement was named for Esquipulas, Guatemala, where the initial meetings took place. The US Congress lobbying efforts were helped by one of Capitol Hill's top lobbyists, William C. Chasey.

In May 1986, a summit meeting, "Esquipulas I," took place, attended by the five Central American presidents. On 15 February 1987, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias submitted a Peace Plan which evolved from this meeting. During 1986 and 1987, the "Esquipulas Process" was established, in which the Central American heads of state agreed on economic cooperation and a framework for peaceful conflict resolution. The "Esquipulas II Accord" emerged from this and was signed in Guatemala City by the five presidents on 7 August 1987.

Esquipulas II defined a number of measures to promote national reconciliation, an end to hostilities, democratization, free elections, the termination of all assistance to irregular forces, negotiations on arms controls, and assistance to refugees. It also laid the ground for international verification procedures and provided a timetable for implementation.


Nicaraguan historian and leading social investigator Roberto J. Cajina describes UNO as follows:

"Since the very moment of inception, under the political guidance and technical and financial support from the government of the US, the existence of UNO was marked by grave structural deformations, derived from its own nature. In its conformation concurred the most diverse currents of the Nicaraguan political and ideological range: from the liberal-conservative -traditionally anticommunist and pro-US, to marxist-leninists from moscovian lineage, openly declared supporters of class struggle and enemies of capitalism in its superior development stage".[42]

The constitution of the UNO Coalition for the 1990 General Elections was as follows:[42] (exact transcription and translation of the names of these political parties needed)

  • 3 Liberal factions: PLI, PLC and PALI
  • 3 Conservative: ANC, PNC and APC
  • 3 Social-Christians: PPSC, PDCN and PAN
  • 2 Socialdemocrats: PSD and MDN
  • 2 Communists: PSN (pro-Moscow) and PC de Nicaragua (pro-Albania)
  • 1 Central American Unionist: PIAC

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Reagan Says Saudi Talked Of Contra Aid". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Saudi Arabia and the Reagan Doctrine - Middle East Research and Information Project". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  4. ^ "The Pinochet File". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  5. ^ "The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs". Retrieved 9 April 2017. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Warfare: Principles, Practices, and ..." Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  9. ^ Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair, 1995. Page 27.
  10. ^ "The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Warfare: Principles, Practices, and..." Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Mexico's Support of the Sandinista Revolution". Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo.
  12. ^ a b Lacina, Bethany. "The PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset, 1946-2008, Version 3.0: Documentation of Coding Decisions" (PDF). International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  13. ^ Louis Proyect, Nicaragua, discusses, among other things, the reforms and the degree to which socialism was intended or achieved.
  14. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Nicaragua, State-based conflict, Peace efforts,
  15. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Nicaragua, State-based conflict, In depth, Background,
  16. ^ "Taking Care of Business in Nicaragua". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  17. ^ Baracco, Luciano (2005). Nicaragua: The Imagining of a Nation - From Nineteenth-Century Liberals to Twentieth-Century Sandinistas. New York, NY: Algora Publishing. p. 61.
  18. ^ a b c d e Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Nicaragua, State-based conflict, In depth, The Sandinista revolution,
  19. ^ Baracco, Luciano (2005). Nicaragua: The Imagining of a Nation - From Nineteenth-Century Liberals to Twentieth-Century Sandinistas. New York, NY: Algora Publishing. p. 66.
  20. ^ Baracco, Luciano (2005). Nicaragua: The Imagining of a Nation - From Nineteenth-Century Liberals to Twentieth-Century Sandinistas. New York, NY: Algora Publishing. p. 67.
  21. ^ a b c Washington, Somoza and the Sandinistas: Stage and Regime in US Policy toward Nicaragua 1969–1981, Author: Morris H. Morley, Published: August 2002, ISBN 9780521523356, pg. 106
  22. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Nicaragua, State-based conflict, In depth, Nicaragua under Sandinista rule,
  23. ^ evolution of demography in Nicaragua (1961-2003), Data FAOSTAT, (last updated 11 February 2005)
  24. ^ SOLÁ MONSERRAT, Roser. "Geografía y Estructura Económicas de Nicaragua" (Nicaragua's Geography and Economical Structure). Universidad Centroamericana. Managua, Nicaragua, 1989. Second Edition.
  25. ^ a b c "Agrarian Productive Structure in Nicaragua", SOLÁ MONSERRAT, Roser. 1989. Pag 69 and ss.
  26. ^ Louis Proyect, Nicaragua, about 4/5 of the way down.
  27. ^ Hanemann, Ulrike. "Nicaragua's Literacy Campaign". UNESCO. Archived from the original (DOC) on 3 July 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  28. ^ B. Arrien, Juan. "Literacy in Nicaragua" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  29. ^ Background History of Nicaragua
  30. ^ Archived 30 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine Report on Nicaragua
  31. ^ a b c L., Melanie. "The Sandinista War on Human Rights". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  32. ^ Que faire si vous lisez le journal "Le Monde", Viktor Dedaj, 2004
  33. ^ Russell, George (17 October 1983). "Nicaragua: Nothing Will Stop This Revolution". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  34. ^ L., Melanie. "The Sandinista War on Human Rights". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b c d Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Nicaragua, State-based conflict, In depth, Contras/FDN,
  37. ^ a b U.S. Department of Justice, Appendix A: Background on United States Funding of the Contras,
  38. ^ University of Texas, National Security Decision Directive number 7,
  39. ^ "LEY DEL SERVICIO MILITAR PATRIÓTICO". Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  40. ^ McManus, Doyle; Toth, Robert C. (5 March 1985). "Setback for Contras: CIA Mining of Harbors 'a Fiasco'", Last in a series". L.A. Times.
  41. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY-5-1984: Sandinistas claim election victory". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  42. ^ a b "Paradoxes from an heterogeneous and fragile electoral Alliance", CAJINA, Roberto, Pag. 44 and ss.


  • Emily L Andrews, Active Marianismo: Women's social and political action in Nicaraguan Christian base communities and the Sandinista revolution. [1] Grinnell College research project, 1997. Retrieved November 2009.
  • Enrique Bermudez (with Michael Johns), "The Contras' Valley Forge: How I View the Nicaragua Crisis", Policy Review magazine, Summer 1988.
  • David Close, Salvador Marti Puig & Shelley McConnell (2010) "The Sandinistas and Nicaragua, 1979-2009" NY: Lynne Rienner.
  • Dodson, Michael, and Laura Nuzzi O'Shaughnessy (1990). Nicaragua's Other Revolution: Religious Faith and Political Struggle. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press. xii, 279 p. ISBN 0-8078-4266-4
  • Schmidli, William Michael, "'The Most Sophisticated Intervention We Have Seen': The Carter Administration and the Nicaraguan Crisis, 1978–1979," Diplomacy and Statecraft, (2012) 23#1 pp 66–86.

Primary sources

  • Katherine Hoyt, Memories of the 1979 Final Offensive, Nicanet, Retrieved November 2009. This is a first-hand account from Metagalpa; also contains some information on the general situation. Has photograph showing considerable damage to Metagalpa. [2]
  • Salvador Martí Puig "Nicaragua. La revolución enredada" Lirbos de la Catarata: Madrid.
  • Oleg Ignatiev, "The Storm of Tiscapa", in Borovik and Ignatiev, The Agony of a Dictatorsip. Progress Publishers, 1979; English translation, 1980.

Further reading

  • Meiselas, Susan. Nicaragua: June 1978-July 1979. Pantheon Books (New York City), 1981. First Edition.
  • "Nicaragua: A People Aflame." GEO (Volume 1 charter issue), 1979.
  • Teixera, Ib. "Nicarágua: A Norte de um pais." Manchete (Rio de Janeiro). 7 July 1979.

External links

1990 Nicaraguan general election

General elections were held in Nicaragua on 25 February 1990. The result was a victory for the National Opposition Union (UNO), whose presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro surprisingly defeated incumbent president Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), despite opinion polls leading up to the elections clearly indicating an FSLN victory.Possible explanations include that the Nicaraguan people were disenchanted with the Ortega government as well as the fact that already in November 1989, the White House had announced that the economic embargo against Nicaragua would continue unless Violeta Chamorro won. Also, there had been reports of intimidation from the side of the contras, with a Canadian observer mission claiming that 42 people were killed by the contras in "election violence" in October 1989. This led many commentators to assume that Nicaraguans voted against the Sandinistas out of fear of a continuation of the contra war and economic deprivation.

Adolfo Calero

Adolfo Calero Portocarrero (December 22, 1931 – June 2, 2012) was a Nicaraguan businessman and the leader of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest rebel group of the Contras, opposing the Sandinista government.Calero was responsible for managing the bank accounts into which money was deposited and then used to buy supplies and arms for the Contras. He was brought to testify at hearings of the US Congress in May 1987.

Alsino and the Condor

Alsino and the Condor (Spanish: Alsino y el cóndor) is a 1982 Nicaraguan film directed by Miguel Littín. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It won the Golden Prize at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival. The film was a co-production between Nicaragua, Mexico and Cuba. The film is loosely based on the novel Alsino by Chilean writer Pedro Prado.

It was the comeback film of actor Dean Stockwell. Notable Cuban Director of Photography Jorge Herrera died during the production due to a brain hemorrhage.

Anastasio Somoza Debayle

Anastasio "Tachito" Somoza DeBayle (Spanish: [anasˈtasjo soˈmosa ðeˈβaile]; 5 December 1925 – 17 September 1980) was a Nicaraguan dictator and officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was de facto ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979. He was the last member of the Somoza family to be President, ending a dynasty that had been in power since 1936. After being overthrown in an insurrection led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Spanish: Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional; FSLN), he fled Nicaragua and power was ceded to the Junta of National Reconstruction. He was eventually assassinated while in exile in Paraguay.

Catholic Church in Nicaragua

The Catholic Church in Nicaragua is the Nicaraguan part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the Conference of Nicaraguan Bishops.

There are 2,652,985 Catholics in Nicaragua - approximately 58,5% of the total population according to the INEC. The country is divided into seven dioceses including one archdiocese.

Evangelization of Nicaragua began shortly after the Spanish conquest. In 1532, the first bishop took jurisdiction in that country. Jesuits were the leaders in mission work in the colonial period, which last till the 1820s. After Nicaragua became a republic in 1838, evangelization intensified, reaching the Atlantic coastline.In the second half of the 20th century, some Church leaders were supportive of Marxist-type revolutions, as elsewhere in South America, supporting liberation theology.

Communist Party of Nicaragua

Communist Party of Nicaragua (in Spanish: Partido Comunista de Nicaragua, abbreviated PCdeN) is a communist political party in Nicaragua. Founded as the Partido Obrero Socialista (Socialist Workers Party) in 1967. The founding core of POS were Juan Lorio, Augusto Lorío, Elí Altamirano (who became General Secretary of the PCdeN)[1] and Manuel Pérez Estrada, who all had been expelled from the Nicaraguan Socialist Party on 23 April 1967.

In 1970, POS changed its name to PCdeN.

In 1990, it joined hands with the right-wing National Opposition Union to topple the Sandinista government.

Conservative Party (Nicaragua)

The Conservative Party (Spanish: Partido Conservador) is a conservative political party in Nicaragua.

The party's colour is green and its emblem is a torch of freedom in a circle. Its slogan is “Dios, Orden, Justicia” ("God, Order, Justice"), often depicted on the three sides of a triangle.

Constitutionalist Liberal Party

The Constitutionalist Liberal Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, PLC) is an opposition political party in Nicaragua. At the Nicaraguan general election of 5 November 2006, the party won 25 of 92 seats in the National Assembly. However, the party suffered a devastating loss in the 2011 general election, losing 23 seats in the National Assembly.

El Nuevo Diario

El Nuevo Diario is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. El Nuevo Diario was cofounded in 1980 by a breakaway group of employees of La Prensa sympathetic to the Sandinista cause, that included 80 percent of the staff including the editor, Xavier Chamorro Cardenal and Danilo Aguirre Solís who opposed the new line of the journal. As of 2006, El Nuevo Diario is one of the two major newspapers in Nicaragua, the other one is La Prensa.

Ernesto Cardenal

Ernesto Cardenal Martínez (born 20 January 1925) is a Nicaraguan Catholic priest, poet, and politician. He is a liberation theologian and the founder of the primitivist art community in the Solentiname Islands, where he lived for more than ten years (1965–1977). A member of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, a party he has since left, he was Nicaragua's minister of culture from 1979 to 1987. He was prohibited from administering the sacraments in 1984 by Pope John Paul II, but rehabilitated by Pope Francis in 2019.

Independent Liberal Party (Nicaragua)

The Independent Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Independiente - PLI) is a Nicaraguan political party, which separated from Somoza's Nationalist Liberal Party (PLN) in 1944 and took part in the probably fraudulent election of 1947, won by Somoza's favored candidate. The PLI participated in the 1984 election, winning 9.6% of vote for President with its candidate Virgilio Godoy. In 1990 it was part of the National Opposition Union (UNO) - a broad alliance of Sandinista regime opponents - with Virgilio Godoy running as the vice-presidential candidate. UNO won the elections with 54% of the vote. The UNO alliance split in 1993, and in the 1996 elections the PLI, under the candidature of Virgilio Godoy, suffered its worst electoral debacle, receiving only 0.32% of the vote. It joined with Enrique Bolaños's PLC for the 2001 elections, and was part of Montealegre's Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance in the 2006 elections.

During the 2011 presidential election, the party participated as part of an alliance against the ruling FSLN that also included the Movimiento vamos con Eduardo, a faction led by former PLC member Eduardo Montealegre, the Sandinista Renovation Movement, PAC, Partido Multiétnico por la Unidad Costeña, dissident Conservatives, Sociedad Civil and independents. The candidate for presidency was the veteran journalist and writer Fabio Gadea Mantilla. The election was eventually won by incumbent president Daniel Ortega with Gadea finishing second.

After many years of infighting between different factions, and five months before the 2016 general election, the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Court removed disputed PLI leader Eduardo Montealegre, replacing him with Pedro Reyes. Reyes, a little known figure in Nicaraguan politics, despite having been the PLI vice-presidential candidate in 1996 and PLI Secretary General from 1995-2005, was elected vice-president of the PLI, behind Rollin Tobie, in February 2011 at a disputed party convention, and claimed the presidency after Tobie's death in November 2011. After PLI and allied Sandinista Renovation Movement deputies objected, Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council ordered them removed from the National Assembly and empowered Reyes to select their replacements.

Last Plane Out

Last Plane Out is a 1983 film, directed by David Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriet. It was based on journalist Jack Cox's (who co-produced the film) experience in Nicaragua when it was ruled by Anastasio Somoza Debayle and his battle against insurgents during the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution.

Lorenzo Guerrero

Lorenzo Guerrero Gutiérrez (13 November 1900 – 15 April 1981) was a Nicaraguan politician and a close associate of Somoza family. Guerrero was the president of the upper chamber of National Congress of Nicaragua 1949-1950, 1953-1954, 1956-1957 and 1962. Guerrero served as one of the Vice Presidents in the administration of René Schick from May 1963 to August 1966 and became President of Nicaragua on 4 August 1966 following the death of Schick. Guerrero served the remainder of Schick's term and handed over the presidency to Anastasio Somoza Debayle on 1 May 1967, who in turn appointed Guerrero as his Foreign Minister. He was a relative of his predecessor René Schick.

Nationalist Liberal Party

The Nationalist Liberal Party (Spanish: Partido Liberal Nacionalista, PLN) was a political party in Nicaragua.

When Anastasio Somoza García took the power in 1936, the party became also aligned with the United States and other caudillos in the Latin America, like Rafael Trujillo, Oswaldo López Arellano and Fulgencio Batista.

From 1936 to 1979, the office of President of Nicaragua was held by members of the Nationalist Liberal Party. When the 1st phase of the Nicaraguan Revolution was won by the FSLN, the PLN was dissolved by the new government. Many Somozas' loyalists supported or joined Contras rebel groups.

Nicaraguan Democratic Movement

The Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (Movimiento Democrático Nicaragüense - MDN) is a right-wing Nicaraguan political party with social democratic ideology. The MDN was formed in 1978 and re-registered in 1989. MDN was the first Contra party given legal status in Nicaragua. After receiving a small number of votes, the MDN lost its legal status in the 2004 municipal elections. After an ephemeral alliance with Alliance for the Republic (APRE), the MDN is, as of 2006, in an electoral alliance with the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN).

Role of women in Nicaraguan Revolution

Women that joined the Sandanista movement in the revolutionary Nicaragua essentially fought a double battle: to secure national freedom from the Somoza dictatorship, and to advance gender equality. Revolution gave them a unique opportunity to organize.

One of the remarkable aspects of the revolutionary process was the emergence of women as active participants and leaders. Many women, often despite objection from family members, joined the ranks of the Sandinistas as Women and the Armed Struggle in Nicaragua starting in 1967.

Somoza family

The Somoza Dynasty was an influential political dynasty who ruled Nicaragua as a family dictatorship from 1936 to 1979.

Tower Commission

The Tower Commission was commissioned on December 1, 1986 by United States president Ronald Reagan in response to the Iran–Contra affair, in which senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo. The commission, composed of former Senator John Tower of Texas, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, was tasked with reviewing the proper role of the National Security Council staff in national security operations generally, and in the arms transfers to Iran specifically.

The Commission's report, published on February 27, 1987, concluded that CIA Director William Casey, who supported the Iran-Contra arrangement, should have taken over the operation and made the president aware of the risks and notified Congress as legally required. The Commission's work was continued by two congressional investigative committees (both formed in January 1987). Shortly after forming the Tower Commission, President Reagan also named Lawrence Walsh as the independent counsel in charge of the Iran-Contra criminal investigation.

Under Fire (1983 film)

Under Fire is a 1983 American political thriller film set during the last days of the Nicaraguan Revolution that ended the Somoza regime in 1979 Nicaragua. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, it stars Nick Nolte, Gene Hackman and Joanna Cassidy. The musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, which featured well-known jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, was nominated for an Academy Award. The editing by Mark Conte and John Bloom was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Editing. The film was shot in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also
Armed conflicts involving Cuba
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