Sitemap

Select language:

In English

Home > Database > Nicaragua > Historical Introduction

Get Informed

Print this article

Historical Introduction

The 160 year history of the largest Central-American country Nicaragua, which gained its independence in the second half of the 19th century, is clouded by numerous political conflicts, usually with bloody consequences, between the liberals and conservatives. The guerrilla warfare against the Interventionary Forces of the United States of America (who had been in the country since 1910) lasted from 1927 - 33 and as a result, the Americans were forced to leave the country and an authoritarian regime was set up in 1937 in lead by the Somoza family.

The long economic and brutal political dictatorship of the Somoza family lasted until 1979, when the civil war that had lasted for 17 years handed power to the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a radical party influenced by different communist ideologies. The extreme left wing party, lead by José Daniel Ortega Saavedra, modelled itself on Cuba and the Soviet Union, and Saavedra, quickly after gaining power, abolished the constitution, disassembled the parliament, silenced the members of the anti-Somoza coalition and democrats, established a repressive government agency, similarly to Cuba and East Germany, practiced terror on its citizens, created select courts that did not adhere to any legal provisions and also introduced political criminal punishment. In addition to creating the system of repression the government also started centralizing the economy: the state controlled almost 50% of the industrial production capability and initiated a socialist land reformation.

The anti-government attacks of the Contras in the year 1980 (counter-revolutionary forces), former guardsmen of Somoza based in Honduras, also spread the war into neighbouring countries, where the fighters mainly relied on aid from the US (contras) and the Soviet Union and Cuba. The country with a population of 3 million paid a hefty price. Approximately 45 000 - 50 000 people lost their lives in the war, most of them civilians and more than 400 000 people were forced to flee Nicaragua as a result of the actions, violence and bloodbaths undertaken by the political groups and counter terror of cliques. The national debt increased and in by the end of 1989, inflation in the country had reached 36 000%. In the 1980s, almost 50% of the state budget was used for military purposes, despite the fact that at that time, the state wasn't even able to meet the most elementary requirements of its people.

The Sandinistas, unable to establish their ideology and weakened by the internal war, were forced to relinquish power in 1990 as a result of democratic pressure. Unlike in other countries, the communist groups in Nicaragua did not attempt to regain power by initiating a new wave of terror and the last organized insurgent group negotiated an agreement with the government in April 1994. With the 21st century came the economic policy centred on savings, which lead to discontent and the 2006 presidential elections were won by J. D. Ortega Saavedra (assumed office in 2007).