Idea #421 – Visiting the Revolution Museum of Leon in Nicaragua
The contemporary history of Nicaragua is marked by prolonged periods of dictatorship and military interventions of the United States, defending economic interests, aiming in particular at digging a canal between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific. Between 1927 and 1933, general Augusto Sandino, of liberal obedience, leads a guerrilla warfare, at first against the conservative government, then against the American strengths. He makes the famous declaration : “if hundred men like Nicaragua as I love it, Nicaragua will be free!” In 1927, he refuses a peace agreement proposed by the United States. In 1933, the guerrilla warfare was finally beaten by the United States Marine Corps (USMC), and the Sandinists had to sign peace agreements with the Nicaraguan government. The National police, trained and equipped by the United States, replaces then the army and the police eliminated by the Americans.
Anastasio Somoza García, the first one managing of the National police made murder Sandino in February, 1934, with the support of the Americans, and takes the power in 1936. He establishes then a personal dictatorship from 1936 till 1956. His sons, Luis and Anastasio, succeed him(her) and the country is decimated. Somoza appears as anti-communist to benefit from the support of the United States throughout the Cold war.
In 1972, Anastasio Somoza, although not being able to constitutionally any more represent itself after two consecutive mandates, takes advantage of the crisis situation caused by an earthquake to promulgate the martial law and take control of the country. He is elected again in 1974, and, losing his American supports, establish a repressive regime. Another movement, more to the left, joins the conservatives in the opposition to the regime: the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN). In 1978, a big part of the population organised strikes and demonstrations in León’s departments, Matagalpa, Chinandega, Estelí, Masaya and Managua, but cannot face the logistic superiority of Somoza’s national police.
The civil war then rages, the Americans gave up, stopping any assistant to Somoza’s regime; in July, 1979, the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the last one of the dynasty of Somoza, went away. A coalition including five main currents anti somozistes takes control of the government: the Sandinist Daniel Ortega, of Marxist obedience, the writer Sergio Ramírez Mercado, the former opponent of Somoza, businessman Alfonso Robelo Callejas, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, director of The Prensa, and Moisses Hassan. Exercising strong pressures on the populations, Daniel Ortega won the elections in 1984 and applied a series Marxist-Leninist reforms, and got closer to the East Block. An armed movement of opponents, called ” Contras “, financed by the American services, emerged. In 10 years, the confrontations have made 57 000 victims, with around 29 000 deaths.
Where is it ?