The Nicaraguan Revolution
By: Kera & [Poké] Scawticus
Before the Revolution
o Nicaraguan was under the Dictatorship of Somoza family (1936-1979)
o The Somoza family was able to stay in power because they had control of the National
Guard (their military and police force combined)
o Also received power form the U.S because they named a street in their capitol after
Franklin D. Roosevelt, and for letting them launch the Bay of Pigs Invasion in
o The Somoza family continued to grow in wealth while their country continued to live in
o Anyone who rebelled against their rein was imprisoned or exiled.
o Things grew worse when Anastasio Somoza Debayle became the president in 1967.
o In 1972, Anastasio Somoza Debayle and the National Guard stole relief funds after an
earthquake hit the capitol Manaqua.
o 10,000 people were killed by the earthquake.
o Angered by the results of the earthquake, the Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN) decided that they needed a change in government.
The FSLN (The Sandinistas)
o Stands for the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
o Founded in 1961 by university students and lead by Carlos Fonseca, Silvio Mayorga, and
o The group’s name came from General Augusto Sandino who led a guerrilla campaign
against U.S. intervention from 1927-1933.
o He was murdered by Somoza’s National Guard in 1934
o Was given encouragement from Fidel Castro because of the Bay of Pigs incident.
o 1970’s, many Nicaraguan’s have tried to get rid of the Somozas but fail.
o The prominent business leaders and Catholic Church officials joined the criticism.
o Political opposition was headed by Pedro Joaquin Chamorro (assassinated in 1978) who
was the editor of the La Prensa, the nation’s largest newspaper.
On to the Revolution!!
o Pedro Joaquin Chamorro was assassinated in January.
o The FSLN were inspired by the Cuban Revolution along with Sandino’s legacy.
o The FSLN had three main tendencies:
Prolonged People’s War
Prolonged People’s War
o This idea was to take after the Cuban style of fighting.
o They dared the military acts by having bands of guerrillas.
o These bands of guerrillas were to help build popular support in the counrtyside.
o Tendency to use the poor and the working class to help in the war.
o 60% of the population lived in the cities
o 20% of the population was the working class.
o It was decided that the working class would be the decisive factor in the revolutionary
o Said that they armed struggled should be linked to a mass movement.
o They wanted this movement to bring together the workers, the poor and the sections of
o The revolution turned out to happen almost the way that the Terceristas had planned.
After Pedro Joaquin Chamorro was killed….
o Many riots and outbursts began to happen.
o The whole nation was on strike.
o In August, Edén Pastora known as Commandante Zero led a group that took Managua’s
National Palace under hostage.
Closer to the end
o May 1979- fighting broke out when the Sandinista said they were calling for a nationwide
o The National Guard could not handle it. Rebels took over cities such as Leon, Masaya
o The National Guard bombed neighborhoods where Sandinista people lived.
Organization of American States
o This organization called for Somoza to resign.
o They went behind the United States because the US wanted to send peacekeeping troops
o The US still wanted to keep parts of the National Guard but this effort failed.
o Since most of Nicaragua was taken over by Sandinistas, Somoza fled the country into
o July 19th
, Sandinista marched into Managua and took over the country.
The new government
o Led by a five member council
o Headed by Sandinista military commander Daniel Ortega Saavedra.
o This counsel also included two other Sandinista members and two non Sandinista
members, Alfonso Robelo Callejas and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro(widow of slain
o A council of state was made.
o Soon, it was seen that the Sandinistas had all the power.
o Robelo and Violeta left the junta and the council.
o The Sandinista government had problems since they were $1.6 billion in debt.
o The Sandinistas did their best but agriculture declined in the 1980s.
o Established literacy programs.
o Death rates went down.
o Many countries such as Cuba, Union of the Soviet Socialists Republic, Western and
o US was considered an enemy because of their help to Somoza.
o US began to support Contras. (counterrevolutionaries)
o US gave $300 million to their aid
o In 1984, there was an election which made the Sandinista government more official.
o Daniel Ortega became president.
o Still there were over 10,000 contras.
o Oscar Arias Sánchez, in 1987, helped to make peace between the Sandinistas and El
Savador. This led to peace between the FSLN and the contras
In the end
o USSR had to pull away from Sandinistas
o Thanks to Bush and the Iran-Contra scandals, the US was more willing to work to find a
o FSLN was defeated, Sandinistas changed political roles.
o The country still suffered.
o 1980-presidential election- Carter and Reagan
o Carter was in the lead but his popularity was going to be the cause of his demise.
o If the hostages in Iran were not released then carter would surely loose the election.
o Reagan and his team made a deal with Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
o The deal was that Reagan would provide Iran with much needed weapons, even though it
was against the law declared by congress.
o In trade, Iran would not release the hostages yet.
o Carter’s popularity dropped and he lost the election.
o The hostages were released at noon on January 21, 1980. The day that Reagan was
o Reagan denied that he sold weapons to terrorist contras.
o Two months after election, Reagan tries to overthrow Sandista government which Carter
o Aid was soon cut off to the contras because they were only killing innocent Nicaraguans.
o At the end of Reagan’s presidency, the Sandinistas still survived.
o Bush and his administration gave 9 million to the 1990 election campaign of Violetta
o Violetta and 14 other parties defeated Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista Party. This brought an
end to the war.