Historical Background of Nicaragua
A Sandinista soldier protects a mural on the wall of Daniel Ortega's residence.

Since the 1850's, the U.S. government has intervened in Nicaragua numerous times, creating puppet governments to protect its economic and political interests. Heavily supported by the U.S., Nicaraguan autocrat Anastasio Somoza, founded a brutal dictatorship in 1936, which was passed from father to son to brother for 43 years. One example of this dynasty's corruption was siphoning money from international relief funds sent to Managua after a devastating earthquake struck in 1972.

After years of torture and bloodshed, the Somoza dictatorship was toppled on July 19,1979 by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). On July 20th, Sandinista soldiers entered Managua amid the fervent cheers and celebration of hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans. For the first time in Nicaraguan history, newly elected Sandinista officials implemented successful social programs that fostered self-determination. These initiatives achieved international recognition and included gains in the areas of literacy, health care, education, childcare, unions and land reform.

As Nicaraguans worked towards greater self-sufficiency, the Reagan administration started funding the Contra War to undermine the Sandinista government in the early 1980's. This disastrous ten-year war cost 60,000 lives and destroyed the country's infrastructure and economy with estimated losses of U.S. $178 billion dollars.

In 1990, Nicaragua held its second democratically-governed presidential elections. After suffering the brunt of war and a U.S. trade embargo, many Nicaraguans f the general public voted for the US.- backed UNO Coalition candidate Violeta de Chamorro. Many Nicaraguans felt pushed against the wall by their dire conditions and saw no other way to end the US's aggression. Yet, despite this coercion, the Sandinista Party still received 41% of total votes. Today, the FSLN is still the largest, most popular party in the nation.

Since the UNO coalition took office, they have severely cut government spending on successful social programs, such as health care and education. In July 1991 the right wing sectors attacked the Sandinista land reforms, which gave land to peasants and small farmers. The results have been detrimental to every aspect of people's lives. One example is the neighborhood, Barrio La Primavera, in Managua. The people living on small plots of land and in makeshift houses, are now threatened with eviction due to UNO's actions.

Today, the Nicaraguan people are organizing to help one another survive. As they are building on the Sandinista successes they are looking forward to the future for positive changes, despite the severe conditions that UNO and US. aid policies are now producing.

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Source: The New England Central America Network at (617) 524?3636, 42 Seaverns Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130