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Nicaragua Project- Politics and Government

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Nicaragua

Brief History, Today and Timline

Politics 180 (239)

 

The Republic of Nicaragua achieved independence from Spain on the 15th September 1821. Today it has 4 government branches, 15 governmental departments and 2 autonomous regions. It employs a civil law system and its Supreme Court may review administrative acts. The most recent free elections took place in 2006.

 

From 1858 to 1893 conservatives governed Nicaragua. In 1893 José Santos Zelaya, a supporter of liberal policies came to power but that was short lived. The Liberals and Conservatives began to fight for control. The National Guard could not stop civil war and in January 1927 the U.S. sent in the marines to help.

 

President Hoover withdrew all two thousand U.S. marines in 1933. At that time Juan Bautista Sacasa was president of Nicaragua. His nephew, Anastasio Somoza Garcia, was head of the National Guard. Somoza Garcia used his control of the National Guard to gain control of Nicaragua. The Somoza dictatorship lasted for over forty years.

 

On July 30, 1979 Anastasio Somoza Debalye fled Managua for exile in the U.S. He surrendered his administrative powers to the opposition. This meant the National Guard were ordered to allow the Sandinista forces into Managua. The National Guard, as was agreed by Somoza, was effectively to be put under the command of the Sandinistas a.k.a FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional)

 

The years between 1970 and early 1990 saw bloody civil war, political corruption and volatility like no other Central American nation.

 

Today’s Politics and Government 180 (251)

 

Late 1980 the FSLN seized power over Nicaragua’s government. The first free and fair elections came as late as 1984, putting the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional) with 67% of the vote, at the helm. The once fringed communist rebel, Daniel Ortega, became President. And the second elections, in 1990 put US- backed 14-party UNO coalition, led by Violeta Chamorro, in the President’s seat. FSLN becomes Nicaragua’s largest opposition party.

 

In 1995 the Sandinista-era Constitution (1987) was changed to equalize power among the four current branches of government. In 2000 it was amended to increase Supreme Court directives and the Controller General's Office while at the same time activate change within electoral laws and its current 9 regions. Both are positive and proactive steps in developing municipal parity and cultivating trusting relationship within those municipalities. However, because of political crises and to ease tension these reforms have been delayed.

 

With the re-election of Daniel Ortega to the office of the presidency in 2006, Nicaragua made international news headlines. Daniel Ortega, now a moderate FSLN left-center leader, came full circle since the uprising against Somoza in 1978-79 and the bloody 1980’s Contra War. The democratic political mechanism in Nicaragua shows potential as much as it demonstrates uncertainty.

 

Pressure from internal NGO’s and the UN have tendered Nicaragua’s politicians toward moderation. Trying to forget the past and move on with healing the nation, things appear to be stabilizing but the world and Nicaraguan citizens continue to scrutinize their politician’s intentions.

 

Timeline on political dates 280 (325)

 

 

1937 - General Somoza elected president, beginning a 40-year-long dictatorship.

1956 - General Somoza assassinated - is succeeded by his son, Luis Somoza Debayle.

1961 -Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) founded.

1967 - Luis Somoza dies and is succeeded by his brother, Anastasio Somoza.

 

1978 - Assassination of the leader of the opposition Democratic Liberation Union, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, triggers general strike and brings together moderates and the FSLN in a united front to oust Somoza.

1979 - FSLN military offensive ends with the ouster of Somoza.

 

1980 - Somoza assassinated in Paraguay; FSLN government led by Daniel Ortega nationalizes and turns cooperatives lands held by the Somoza family.

1982 - US-sponsored attacks by Contra rebels based in Honduras begin.

1984 - US mines Nicaraguan harbors

1987- 88—Nicaraguan leadership signs peace agreement and subsequently holds talks with Contra

 

1990 - US-backed centre-right National Opposition Union defeats FSLN in elections; Violeta Chamorro becomes president.

1992 - Earthquake -16,000 people homeless.

1995 - Constitution amended

1996 - Arnoldo Aleman elected president.

1998 - Hurricane Mitch causes massive devastation.

 

2000 - FSLN win Managua municipal elections.

2001 - Liberal party presidential candidate Enrique Bolaños beats his Sandinista party counterpart, former president Daniel Ortega.

2002 - Opposition Sandinista party re-elects Daniel Ortega as its leader.

2002 - Former president Arnoldo Aleman charged with money laundering, embezzlement during his term in office.

2003 - Arnoldo Aleman jailed for 20 years for corruption.

2004 - World Bank wipes 80% of Nicaragua's debt to the institution.

2004 - Russia writes-off Nicaragua's multi-billion-dollar Soviet-era debt.

 

2005 - Political crisis eases as Congress agrees to delay constitutional reforms, which will weaken the powers of the president Bolaños, he leaves office in 2007.

2006 - Free trade deal with the US comes into effect. Nicaragua's Congress approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)

2006 - Ex-president Daniel Ortega is returned to power in elections.

2007 - Poland and Nicaragua signed an agreement to write off 30.6 million dollars of debt

 

Much can be written on Nicaragua’s fragmented and fledgling political structure. Foreign meddling has caused the system to be re-built, collapse, and then re-build itself over the past 100 years to serve, not the needs of Nicaragua but of foreign nations and individuals. Spanish colonization and notorious U.S control impeded Nicaragua from developing an autonomous and transparent political solidarity. Exploitation, dictatorship, civil war, blockades and a fraudulent internal institute have been the norm. Evidence suggests everyone wants a piece of Nicaragua with out really doing what is best for the nation

 

 



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By Simon Gauci
I am freelance writer and researcher who resides in Quito *sept to June and Kilbride Ontario Canada *June to Aug*. I write fiction and...
18 Aug 2008


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