The Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s civic calendar has its most important celebration on the 19 of July. You see, this is a holiday in remembrance of the Sandinista Revolution that toppled the Somoza Regime.
Anastasio Somoza was the third member of a family dynasty that had been in power in Nicaragua since 1936. Throughout this period, the family had ruled with an iron fist. They had also amassed a fortune making Somoza one of the richest men in Latin America. By the time the 1970’s came around, the cold war was in full swing. Central America was fertile ground for the communists. Thus the US bolstered their support in the region, creating an air force base in Honduras. Honduras was their most reliable USA ally in the region. Somoza in Nicaragua was also an important ally. After the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua, discontent was on the rise. Somoza and his national guard responded with force to any manifestation.
The local population took inspiration from national hero, Augusto Sandino. Sandino was a Nicaragua national who fought against the US intervention in Nicaragua during the 1920s, and 1930s. Anastasio Somoza Sr. ordered the cold blooded assasination of Sandino. This took place after meeting with him at the presidential palace. Tales of Sandino took epic proportions after his death. These tales served as inspiration in the revolt against Somoza.
By 1979, it was evident to the USA that Somoza was not worth supporting. After loosing his support from the USA, he left the country on the 17th of July. After his departure, the revolutionary army marched into the last strong hold: Managua. A new government was set up, under the command of the revolutionary army. General Daniel Ortega assumed the lead role in the new government. Thus the 19th of July, Nicaragua celebrates its liberation from Somoza. This date is a second independence celebration for Nicaragua. In many ways, it is even more important than the independence day celebration that takes place on September 15!
The times that followed were even harder that the days of the revolution. For the United States, loosing Nicaragua was only second to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion to Cuba. Under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, the US launched an offensive against the Sandinistas. Using Honduras as a launch pad, the USA provided training and guns to the Contra’s. The result was a full blown civil war that was fierce and ruthless. For the USA, it was not about Nicaragua, it was about being superior to the USSR. Nicaragua was the unfortunate battleground between these two World powers.
Nicaragua today is a democratic country, with elections taking place every 5 years. The Sandinistas are back in power after losing to the Liberal Party for three consecutive elections.
Sandino, did not fight in this revolution, but functioned as a source of inspiration. To this day, Augusto Sandino is a inspires every Nica! Congratulations to Nicaragua on this day!
As for Somoza, after leaving Nicaragua he went into exile to Paraguay. There his fellow dictator, Hugo Stroesner welcomed him. Paraguayan revolutionaries staged an attack and murdered him. They blew up his bullet proof Mercedes Limosine with a Bazooka. That was the end of him!
There are not many live héroes that fought the Sandinista Revolution. In addition to Sandino, who was the inspiration, Carlos Fonseca and Tomas Borge are some of the best known heroes of this revolution. Fonseca was murdered by the National Guard, Borge died of natural causes a couple of years ago.