Somoza vs. Sandinistas
(The Nicaraguan Revolution)
Alvaro De Castro
Latin American History
Monday 2nd, May 2011
Somoza vs. Sandinistas
“The Sandinista Revolution executed no one, although the Somoza army didn’t even spare the band players. Guns have passed through everybody’s hands, but now agrarian reforms flourish in the desolate fields. An immense army ofvolunteers, armed with pencils and vaccines invades their own country. That is the revolution.” – Eduardo Galeano.
Since the 1930s, Nicaragua has endured economical instability, military unrest, hunger, death, violence, and oppression. The majority of these conditions originated between 1933 and 1979; the Somoza era. This ruthless family of dictators has amassed astronomical wealth at the cost of anation’s development. The Somoza oppression has impacted Nicaragua negatively to the point where some effects can still be seen today. The Sandinista movement against the Somoza dictatorship was a heroic guerilla operation that had vast positive effects on the lives of the Nicaraguan people. Once in power, the Sandinista government focused on repairing a Nicaragua in ruins and fulfilling the needsof its people.
The Nicaraguan Revolution is the result of escalating events that began with the conflicts between Nicaragua’s national hero Augusto Cesar Sandino, and a former diplomatic translator for the U.S. Anastasio Somoza Garcia. Sandino worked to improve the conditions of the poor and end U.S. military occupation in Nicaragua. (Klerlein) He became head of a guerilla and assembled asmall army that confronted the foreign military occupation. Somoza and Sacasa, current president of Nicaragua, began deceiving negotiations with Sandino in effort to put an end to his cause. The agreement declared that Sandino would cease fighting when the US withdrew, and he and his followers would have amnesty and land. At the negotiations, however, Somoza kidnapped then murdered Sandino and orderedthe massacre of Sandino’s guerilla and their families. Augusto Sandino, in 1936, ousted Sacasa in a coup and had himself elected president. Almost immediately, the Sandino family and a close circle of friends were virtually running every organization in Nicaragua (Klerlein). The Somoza industrial monopoly marks the beginning of 43 years of oppression.
The Somoza dictatorship completelydisregarded Nicaragua’s necessities and prioritized preservation of power and personal benefit. “I only run one business and its name is Nicaragua” (Somoza García, el patriarca de una dinastía). Anastasio Somoza Garcia answered this when he was asked about his ownership over Nicaragua’s most productive industries. Anastasio’s response demonstrates that his goals for Nicaragua ignore the necessities ofthe people and focus on personal benefit. Under Somoza, Nicaraguan economy was oriented in the production of cotton and coffee. Nicaragua’s economy and land was concentrated to very few propietaries; the Somoza family. Millions of poor farmers lost ownership of their properties to be employed for minimum wage. 50 cattle farms, 46 coffee plantations, and 48 mansions in Managua served as some ofSomoza’s most profitable enterprises. The estimated value of the Somoza fortune was between 500 and 600 million dollars (Argumedo, Los Silencios y las voces en America Latina"). The best example that demonstrates Anastasio Somoza’s priorities in Nicaragua is the Managua earthquake of 1972. An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 devastated Managua; killing 10,000 people, leaving 50,000 homeless, anddestroying 80% of all commercial buildings (Nicaragua, BBC). Countries from all over the world donated large sums of money to aid the people affected by the earthquake. However, no buildings received reparation and no Nicaraguans were compensated for their losses. The president illegally appropriated the international relief aid and added it to the Somoza fortune, which soared to 400,000 million...
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