Anastasio Garcia Samoza clinched the Nicaragua presidency in the year 1936. This happened after winning the hotly contested elections under the Liberal Party which was conducted after the resignation of president Sacasa earlier in the same year (Diederich, B., 2004). Hence, he established a Somoza dynasty that consecutively ruled for 43 years.
Meaning, when Anastasio was assassinated in 1956, he was succeeded by his son, Luis who passed the throne to his brother, Anastasio upon his death in 1967.
The Samoza dynasty was characterized by a lot of weaknesses and evils done during their entire period in power. This was witnessed both in the economic, political and social spheres as discussed herein:
It was so dictatorial and oppressive. Political opposition was not tolerated. He adopted the divide and rule tactic to divide his political foes. This gave him more room to exercise his autocratic powers over the entire territory.
He, in many occasions, amended the constitution to suit his interests. For instance, in 1938, he extended his term in office for 8 more years (Diederich, B., 2004).
Luis also took from him. He was also dictatorial even if he maintained close ties with the US. However, he later bowed to pressure to make electoral reforms that, in the long run, never changed the political climate positively.
This dynasty never gave people social space; there was no freedom of speech, association and justice. Instead, nepotism was propagated with the Samoza family and close cronies holding senior positions in the army, party, legislature and the judiciary.
Besides, social segregation was propagated by bias land allocations. While the rich owned 52% of the total arable land, the peasants wallowed in abject poverty living in poor conditions in the rain forests.
Close ties were consolidated with US who sponsored a lot of military budget. However, the president was very rich. He had a lot of investments both within and in the foreign countries. By 1970, Nicaragua became the leading exporter of beef in USA. Anastasio owned the biggest slaughterhouse in Miami, Florida.
Businesses and lucrative industries were nationalized. The rich were the land owners while the poor lived in abject poverty. Beef business was developed because of massive evictions that created room for the establishment of ranches.
During this time, the military was not used to serve the people. Instead, it was used to oppress the common man especially the dissents. . Immediately Anastasio took power, he became an absolute authority combining the powers of the president and the head of the military, the National Guard.
Besides, the National Guard was used to control businesses. A part from being controlled by Anastasio’s family members and close associates, it enjoyed massive financial inducements from the government of US.
The Sandinista’s administration
The Sandinista came into power on in 1979 under the able leadership of Daniel Ortega and Violeta Chamorro. They found the country in tatters, made a lot of reforms until the end of their regime in 1990 when Ortega lost to Violeta in a free and fair election.
Unlike the former regime, this administration was democratic. Political freedom was created. Multi-party was accepted. Regular free and fair elections were conducted. In 1984, Ortega won internationally free and fair elections.
They were more revolutionary and conducted a lot of reconciliation in the whole country. Unlike the former regime, it was tolerant to opposing ideologies. Fundamental rights were granted and individuals had a say in national and communal matters without any fear of oppression. This was not allowed in the Samoza regime.
Unlike the former regime, social segregation was not heard of. The poor were regarded. The landless were given land portions.
Nepotism and other forms of discriminations were abolished. The initially poor living conditions were upgraded. In fact, the Nicaraguan Institute of Natural Resources was instituted to clean the polluted environ. This at least, improved the dignity of the peasants who were living in the rain forests during the past regime.
It inherited a very poor economy with majority of the poor people. There were deliberate attempts to equally distribute wealth to all the people regardless of their social class. Unlike the non-aligned Samoza regime, this one was based on the Marxist ideologies with that of the liberation theology.
All the illegally acquired assets and the family lands were seized and distributed to the landless. This brought equality in this society. Besides, agrarian reforms were made. Even leading industries were nationalized to give people equal access to wealth (Christian, S., 1996).
Diplomatic links were intensified with the Eastern Europe and the Asian countries like North Korea.
During this time, the army was really reformed. It was developed using the financial aids from the USSR and Cuba. Because of this, it became the strongest in the whole of Central America. Instead of suppressing the common man, it was serving them with utmost dignity.
The peace process in Nicaragua
Nicaragua has had a long period of instability and tranquility over the years. This has resulted both from the internal and external interactions.
However, several attempts have been made, right from the 19th century to restore order and peace. And this has incorporated the efforts of the country’s administration and the international community as discussed below:
In 1860, Nicaragua and British singed a peace agreement that was to change the future status of this country. In this agreement, the British government officially recognized the legitimate sovereignty of Nicaragua. From here, she was to conduct her internal affairs with minimum British interference.
This brought to an end the military struggles and restored order in the county.
In 1894, the colonial British and Nicaraguan governments entered into an agreement. Here, the long territorial struggles between Britain and Nicaragua got a solution. It was resolved that this boundary would be clearly redefined in the interest of all the parties (Montgomery, T.S., 2002).
This too, restored order and some degree of harmony in the Nicaraguan state.
In 1914, the Bryan-Chamorro treaty was signed between the Nicaragua’s Emilio Chomoro and the US government. Here, it was agreed that the Nicaraguan administration would be granted a financial aid. In fact, she got US $. 3 million later in the same year.
On the other hand, US got authority to establish canals in the regional borders.
More significantly, it to an end the rampant guerilla warfare in the whole of Central America including Nicaragua, a chief signatory in the agreement.
In 1923, the Pan American treaty was signed between the Caribbean states. Some of its major signatories were Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Honduras, Chile and Venezuela.
It recommended immediate investigations on the grievance alleged among the signatory Central American states. It resolved that no more act of aggression and wars would be tolerated. Instead, the 1915 League of Nations pronouncements would be enforced across the member states. Actually, this brokered peace in the region.
In 1928, the Kellogg-Britain treaty was signed between US, Britain, France, Germany, Nicaragua and other Central American nations. It also restored peace by condemning all the acts of aggression and unjustified military attacks on other sovereign countries.
Besides, it illegalized any form of annexation that could be done to any sovereign state. This eventually brought peace in the region.
In 1962, the Central American Defense Council consisting of Panama, Nicaragua, Nica, Honduras, Guatemala and Honduras came into a mutual agreement to eradicate all the left wing guerilla groups that had been threatening the stability of the region since the out break of cold war.
True to their expectation, it led to peace in all the states. However, inhumane ways were used to brutally contain these dissents.
In 1967, the Tlatelolco agreement was signed between Netherlands, US, Britain, and other Latin American nations like Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela and Haiti.
It prohibited the acquisition, manufacturing, testing and the selling of the nuclear weapons in any country in Latin America. This resulted in to peace because; such weapons would be used to out do others in a very offensive and provocative manner.
In 1985, after the divisive US funded wars in Nicaragua, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands compelled US to pay for the damages caused. Peace was retuned to the country especially after ICJ ruling that further Nicaraguan-US ant agonies would be solved in the court.
In 1987, Ronald Reagan, then US president mediated in the Nicaraguan conflicts. He helped sing a ceasefire between the wrangling Nicaragua and Costa Rica’s Oscar Arias (Oliver, J., 1999).
However, their closer inclination towards US made them lose financial aids from the leftist Russia. Lastly, in 2006, the Central America- 4 Border Control Agreement was signed between Nicaragua, El Salvador, Nicar, Honduras and Guatemala was signed.
It intensified peace and harmony in the region by allowing for free mobility across all these countries. It also intensified trading activities in this region.
In 1990, Violeta Chamorro, widow to the assassinated Pedro J. Chamorro won a n internationally accepted free and fair presidential elections in Nicaragua. It marked the end of the Ortega administration which had of course tried to transform the country (Belli, H., 1985). Later, democratic elections were held under various leaders:
The Violeta administration
Violata assumed office after beating Daniel Ortega in the presidential elections. She contested with the National Opposition Union ticket. Even if her election was greatly condemned by the US, she managed to work so well (Kagan, R., 1996).
She strengthened democracy; negotiated peace and reformed both the army and the police forces. They were professionalized with their top leadership getting changed to suit the new standards.
However, it was challenged by the numerous protests of the former landlords whose lands had been confiscated by the former regime. It became very difficult for her to even meet the demands of the peasants who had been allotted those portions.
The Aleman administration
After winning the 1996 mayoral elections, the Liberal Party flag bearer, Arnoldo Aleman won the 1997 presidential elections. His administration was good.
He also strengthened democracy by organizing free and fair elections. He also liberalized the economy besides making a lot of infrastructural developments.
However, his administration was later accused of massive corruption and money laundering leading to the resignation of top officers in his administration in the year 2000. This made him be so unpopular to the extent that he lost the subsequent mayoral and presidential elections.
The Enrique Bolano administration
Bolano, under the Liberal Party won the 2001 presidential elections beating Daniel Ortega. This was the fourth free and fair elections held in this country since 1990.
Bolano ruled so well: he created a lot of job opportunities to the people; revived the dwindling economy and lodged a serious war against graft.
In 2001, he found Aleman, the former president guilty of corruption and money laundering. He was jailed for 21 years, but put under house arrest the following year.
This was rebuilt the already damaged country’s reputation. As a result, confidence was instilled on the international community.
Because of this, the World Bank and the USSR wrote of 85% and multi-billion dollar debts they were being owed respectively.
However, this regime later faced a lot of challenges. For instance, it was not able to control the ravaging inflation that resulted from the hiked fuel prices.
This led to massive rioting and demonstrations eventually making the party to lose popularity. Hence, it lost the November, 2006 presidential elections to the veteran politician, Daniel Ortega.
Rafael Leonidas Trujillo
Trujillo was born in 1891 in San Cristobal. He was the third child in the family of Jose Trujillo and Julia Trujillo. After his elementary education, he got a job as a telegraph operator. Later, he served as an army officer before establishing the infamous Trajullo era that lasted for 43 years (Robert D.C., 2001).
Rise to power
Trujillo rose to power in 1930 after winning the presidential elections in which he got a historical 95% victory. This was after the resignation of Horacio Vasquez, the immediate former president.
In October, 1930, he assumed office as the next head of state, a development that would later see him in power for over four decades both as president and the army commander. His motto was ‘God and Trujillo!’
Features of the Trujillo regime
Trujillo established a very economically strong rein that made a lot of progresses towards the development of the Dominican Republic. This was achieved through his diplomatic ties with US and the internal monetary policies.
However, it still remains the bloodiest in the history of the entire America. It was characterized with dictatorship; human rights violations, nepotism amongst other evils. There was no political freedom.
In 1931, he banned all the political parties and made his, Dominican Party the only legal party in the country. Besides, political opposition was not tolerated. In fact, the subversive and controversial opponents were seriously mistreated by the 42 Gang in conjunction with the secret police. They were tortured, imprisoned, forced into exile of mysteriously assassinated.
Party membership was made compulsory. Failure to register would lead to dire consequences on such individuals.
Besides, elections were neither free nor fair. Instead, they were often conducted just for formality. Most of them were uncontested. For instance, in 1942 and 1947, Trujillo was ‘elected’ unopposed. Trujillo also had powers to amend electoral laws.
In 1942, after the US’s Roosevelt Franklin extended his term, he personally manipulated the constitution to give two more 5 year terms.
There was no freedom of the media. All the media houses were controlled by him. The state owned newspaper always reserved the front page for publishing his praises. Violation to this could lead to execution.
Besides, Trujillo’s statues were conspicuously erected on the streets, bridges and government buildings. The use of propaganda was intensified in that; a lot of people were recruited to chant his slogans (Ignacio L.C., 2005).
In 1936, he changed the names of the capital city and San Cristobel Province to Ciudad Trijullo and Trijullo respectively. Besides, he denied the freedom of worshipping their God when he commanded them to preach, ‘God in heaven and Trujillo on earth’ slogan to their adherents (Ignacio L.C., 2005).
Reasons for economic power
As already highlighted, the Trujillo administration was economically empowered. This was as a result of the economic policies adopted domestically and internationally:
Her close links with the US put it in a better position to acquire financial support that was used to build a very strong army. This saved her from using her revenue in to finance the same.
Besides, a lot of money was got from all the government employees who were mandated to compulsorily contribute 10% of their income to the government.
Consequently, more revenue was got from the government’s direct control of businesses and industries. This was solely done through monopolies and price controls.
Finally, additional revenue was got from the European refugees who were allowed into the country.
Decline of Trujillo
Despite ruling for a record 43 year, the Trujillo era eventually came to an end. This was due to his dictatorial strategies that earned him enemies within and out of the Domical Republic.
Her meddling tendencies in the domestic affairs of Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti made their leaders, who were his great foes to collaborate with the exiled Dominicans to oust him (Robert D.C., 2001).
Montgomery, T.S. (eds.) (2002) Peacemaking and Democratization in Central America. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Oliver, J., (1999)The Esquipulas Process: A Central American Paradigm for Resolving Regional Conflict, Ethnic Studies Report, Vol. XVII, No. 2, July 1999
Ignacio L.C. (2005) God and Trujillo: Literary and Cultural Representations of the Dominican Dictator, Florida: University Press of Florida.
Robert D. C. (2001). Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator. , New York: MacMillan.
Diederich, B. (2004). Somoza. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981.
Christian, S. (1996) Nicaragua, Revolution in the Family. New York: Vintage Books
Kagan, R. (1996). Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990. New York: The Free Press.
Belli, H. (1985). Breaking Faith: The Sandinista Revolution and Its Impact on Freedom and Christian Faith in Nicaragua. Crossway Books/The Puebla Institute