President of Nicaragua for two stretches (1937-47, 1950-56). 1933 saw the end of U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua, and from this time Somoza rose
to power as head of the National Guard. Though himself a member of the Liberal party, in 1936 he engineered a successful coup
against the incumbent Liberal regime and formally assumed the presidency the following year.
In 1947 he retired from the Presidency but within a month of his successor's rule he had him oused and replaced with a
maleable puppet leader to do his bidding.
In 1948 he was accused by Costa Rica of aiding a group of
rebels bent on overthrowing the liberal regime in that country. The Organization of American States investigated the
charges, ruled in favor of Costa Rica, and reprimanded Somoza. Undeterred, he had himself reelected in 1950 over the
ineffectual opposition of Emiliano Chamorro and continued his dictatorial rule and provocations against Costa Rica.
Throughout his rule, however he was careful to maintain very cordial relations with the United States. On Sept. 21, 1956, he was shot; eight days later he died.
His eldest son, Luis Somoza Debayle, succeeded him to the presidency, followed in 1967 by his younger son Anastasio Somoza Debayle (qv)
Length of Rule - Twenty years