Brief History 1933-1990Life Under Somoza The United States Marine Corps occupied Nicaragua nearly interrupted from 1912 to 1933. To ensure the internal stability of the small, agriculture country, they placed the commander of the United States National Guard, Anastasio Somoza Garcia, in charge. Under him, the initial authoritarian rule was established and lasted until his assassination in 1956. He was preceded by his son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who lead an even more brutal and controlling dictatorship. Perhaps the most glaring legacy of the Somoza dynasty was the miserable social climate in which the majority of the Nicaraguan people lived, particularly the rural poor. As is often the case in a highly centralized, authoritative egalitarian system, the Somoza inner circle amassed immense and unprecedented wealth, while thousands of people were denied the most basic needs for survival. Serious shortages of medical facilities and supplies caused both high infant mortality rates and a low life expectancy. In fact, Nicaragua ranked at or near the bottom of all Latin American countries for social statistics throughout the Somoza period. GINI INDEX Similar to health care, public education for the majority of Nicaraguans under Somoza was either not available, or was conducted at the bare minimum. The neglect of domestic education was not a random omission, but rather a political move by the regime to maintain dictatorship. Education of a large number of the working class posed a threat to the status quo and traditional order of the country. Illiteracy, therefore, served as a means to ensure the passivity of the poor, and to provide a labor class for the elites of the country. Throughout history, as today, Nicaraguan economy is completely dependent on a monoculture export system. Prior to 1979, the political structure was designed to benefit the interest of the elite Somozas and their supporters, including the wealth distribution of the country.George Orwell said, “no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. The object of power is power.” This epitomizes a Marxist economy and the rationale behind each successive leader to have Nicaragua under their control. The Somozas, in particular, idealized these values in their governing methods.Under this authoritarian regime, a leftist opposition evolved into the revolutionary movement, later to be known as the Sandinistas, in the Nicaraguan countryside after three decades of dictatorship domination.The Sandinista movement had foundations derived from both the Cuban revolution and from their revolutionary leader Augusto Sandino. The movement gained wide support gradually from the vast majority of Nicaragua’s agricultural and urban working population between 1960’s and 70’s. Due to the mobilization of the forces, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) took power in 1979, exiling Somoza. Sandinista Rule Remnants of decades of military dictatorship and oppression left visible scars on the country of Nicaragua. The reconstruction of the entire area was at the forefront of every agenda. Thousands of Nicaraguans were homeless, jobless, and without security of their cities due to the destruction of their homes. Production had nearly ceased, as large majorities of workers fought in the battles of the insurgency. Up until 1990, FSLN was attempting to revolutionize the country consistent with their vision of a more equal nation through societal and political means. Sandinistas implemented far-reaching, innovative reforms mainly in education and healthcare, such as the literacy campaign, to try and uproot the damages of the Somoza regime. This campaign reduced illiteracy from over eighty percent in 1979 to twelve percent by 1981. They did this, however, by teaching the population to read using Sandinista readings as a form of propaganda in favor of the governing body. Economic challenges plagued the marxist economic policy due to the land distribution and productivity. Under a marxist economic policy, ‘Power no longer constitutes the “right of the sovereign,” or the “power of the state” in relation to (equal and free) citizens, but a specific form of class domination. QUOTE LIBRARY DUDE’ Marxist economies were based solely on the separation between the classes. This was immediately presented as a problem to the Sandinistas because many of the workers that had fought against the Somoza regime, now demanded the elite land be confiscated and equally distributed among themselves. Equality in distribution would negatively affect production due to unequal cultivation methods between small farms and working farms. The economy, under that choice, would be unable to produce enough exports to sustain itself within foreign trade routes. Without currency, Sandinistas would be unable to repay their national foreign debt or purchase imported goods for reconstruction of the state. The issue at hand was larger though, because hesitation to redistribute land would affect the Sandinistas’credibility, and jeopardize the support of the people towards the government that is needed to facilitate change and evolution.The decision made was to confiscate over one thousand estates, equivalent to over two million acres of land, that was previously owned by the prior regime and allies. This takes the first step towards complete economic reform for the benefit of the people. This immediate action showcased its most blatant shortcoming. It was unable to create and apply a viable solution to the farmers without any land tend to. Increased frequency of counterrevolutionary attacks, beginning after 1984, negatively affected production of agriculture and dissuaded peasants from joining state farms for fear they would be targeted by the Contras. These dampened export levels continued throughout the period of Contra activity, and infrequently continued past the 1987 cease-fire.The Sandinista government’s industrial plan was never able to achieve the same rate of success that shown in their social and political sectors. Two main factors prevented the changes from happening: the lack of investment and shortage of foreign exchange. Without domestic or foreign investments, Nicaragua was unable to expand, rebuild, or modernize any of their industries. The private sectors were hesitant to invest in the economy because of its instability and strong dependence on foreign aid. The shortage of exchange from outside the country framed the need of imports that Nicaragua was unable to produce themselves within the border. United States Intervention Despite the internal obstacles the FSLN faced, the most prominent was the opposition of the United States government. Due to the threat of economic sanctions, military action, and lack of diplomatic resources, the Sandinistas attempted to keep a policy of nonalignment during the time of the Cold War. Their close ties with Cuba and the Soviet Union forced Nicaragua to admit their goals were non-expansionist, but related to the domestic needs of the Nicaraguan people. By mid-1980s, the government was unable to supply the military with expansion because of the internal counter-revolutionary activity. The voiced goal of the Sandinista government, as of 1979, was to completely erase as much of the Somoza dictatorship in favor of democracy based on public political participation and nationalism. In the year 1981, the United States began a nearly decade-long destabilization effort of the Nicaraguan government in retaliation. In that year, President Reagan terminated an aid package to Nicaragua, put a U.S. economic blockade on all international trading of Nicaraguan goods and placed a total embargo on the country. The United States policies did not end with economic sanctions, it manifested in the U.S.-engineered Contra war. An eight-year insurgency was devastating for Nicaragua in monetary and productivity means. It escalated steadily until peaking in 1984, then continuing for almost four more years. General Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency in response to the Contra attacks, in lieu of fear of being overthrown. In this state of emergency, all press was censored, freedom of speech restricted, and more arrests conducted. Most detained were thought to have direct contact and support with the counterrevolutionary forces which posed a larger threat than first perceived to the Sandinista rule. The revolutionary government was forced to make a choice between its commitment to human rights in which it was founded upon, or the preservation of its power. Amnesty International and Americas Watch was invited to study the Sandinistas in an attempt to demonstrate their commitment to erasing the past of Somoza. The reports revealed Nicaragua in a more positive light than when compared to their neighbors, Guatemala and El Salvador. Despite not being recognized as a liberal democratic system, especially given their history of authoritarian military dictatorships, the Sandinista party emulated some of the requirements necessary. In the first years of the revolution, when Sandinistas were largely considered favorable, the vast majority of organizations were affiliated with the party. By the peak of the Contra war, opposition grew exponentially. It was then that the election of 1990 saw the second ever free election since the overthrowing of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.