U.S. military interventions (1909-1925 and 1926-1933)
José Santos Zelaya of the Liberal Party had been President of Nicaragua since 1893. The US government began to support the Conservatives. From 1907 there was fighting. In 1909, Zelaya’s officers killed several rebels, including two US mercenaries.
The US Navy then landed in Nicaragua. Zelaya had to resign and went into exile. The USA stayed in the country until 1925, appointed conservative governments close to it and supported them against liberal rebels. Adolfo Díaz was president twice (1911-1917 and 1926-1929).
In 1926 the struggle for the presidency between liberals and conservatives began again. The USA intervened again and this time stayed until 1933. The USA trained a national guard during this time. This should protect the interests of the USA. The National Guard was under the leadership of the Somoza family. It was an army and a police force at the same time. In 1929 the liberal rebels were disarmed after a peace agreement with the USA, a country located in Caribbean and Central America listed on mathgeneral.
Rebels under Sandino
Only a few rebels now fought against the occupiers under the leadership of Augusto Sandino. When the Americans left the country in 1933, Sandino ended the fight. He and his people were invited by the new president in 1934 and murdered from behind by the National Guard.
Power in Nicaragua was in the hands of one family: the Somoza s. They controlled the National Guard and used it to maintain their dictatorship. Over time, they created vast fortunes and controlled the entire economy in the country.
In 1937, Anastasio Somoza Garcia was elected president after a coup. In 1946 his son Anastasio Somoza Debayle took over command of the National Guard. In 1956 the father was murdered and the older son Luís took over the presidency of the country until 1963. In 1967 Anastasio Somoza Debayle became president (until 1972) and held the office again between 1974 and 1979.
The US supported all alongthe Somoza family in conflict with neighboring countries. Companies from the USA exploited the gold and silver mines, cleared the forests and harvested bananas on the plantations. After the exploitation left a ruined country, the US withdrew.
Nicaraguan Revolution 1979
The population’s resistance to the power of the Somozas grew. A guerrilla formed and began the armed struggle. It was named after the rebel Sandino Sandinista National Liberation Front (in Spanish Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional – FSLN). Their followers are also called Sandinista for short. In 1979 Somoza was overthrown and fled into exile.
The Sandinista in power
A revolutionary government in the form of a five-member committee was formed. Daniel Ortega was her head. The education and health systems were modernized and land reform began. The number of illiterates fell and many schools were founded. Ernesto Cardenal, a priest, representative of liberation theology and one of the most famous poets from Nicaragua, became Minister of Culture. In 1985 he was removed from his position as a Catholic priest by the then Pope John Paul II because of his political activities. Elections were held for the first time in 1984. They confirmed the Sandinista. Daniel Ortega became president of the country in 1985.
Contra War (1981-1990)
From 1981 guerrilla troops fought against the Sandinista, the so-called Contras (contra = against). They wanted a counter-revolution. Because the US Congress refused financial aid for the Contras, the US government under Ronald Reagan now secretly supported them by selling arms to Iran. The profits from this were passed on to the Contras (Iran-Contra affair).
Those responsible were not held accountable or pardoned. The Contras raided farms, laid mines and burned crops. They destroyed the country’s infrastructure, such as roads and oil pipelines. They tortured civiliansin a cruel way. Around 60,000 people died in the war, mostly civilians.
Free elections were held in 1990. The electoral alliance UNO (Unión Nacional Opositora), which consisted of 14 parties, won this. Sandinista and Contras ended their war. Violeta Chamorro became the new president and remained in office until 1997. The market economy was reintroduced. The former rebels on both sides were promised land. The promises were only partially kept. There were rearmament on the part of disappointed Contras and Sandinista.
In 1994 four parties left the UN, which was now called APO (Alianza Política Opositora). The four resigned parties called themselves Alianza Liberal. Your candidate Arnoldo Alemánwon the 1996 election. He was then in office from 1997 to 2002. His government was accused of severe corruption. In 2002 he was succeeded by Enrique Bolaños (2002-2007) from the Liberal Conservative Party.
Daniel Ortega – President since 2006
In the 2006 elections, the Sandinista won again with Daniel Ortega and he became president. Previously, the electoral law had been changed so that 35 percent (instead of 45 percent previously) was enough in the first ballot to become president. Ortega received 38 percent. In the same year, abortion was banned and made a criminal offense without exception. In 2007, Hurricane Felix wreaked havoc in the country.
In 2011, Ortega was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote, although the constitution meant that he should not have stood for election. In 2014, at Ortega’s initiative, the ban on re-election was completely removed from the constitution. In 2016 he was re-elected.