Anastasio Somoza Debayle
(1925-1980)

Served in two stretches as President of Nicaragua, the first from 1967-72 and then again from 1974 until 1979 when he was forced to flee the country. The younger son of Anastasio Somoza García (qv), he mirrored his father's career remarkably closely, receiving an education at a string of US universitities before returning to Nicaragua to assume control of the National Guard at age 21. From there he ascended to the presidency after his brother Luis died of a heart attack in 1967. His brother had changed the country's constitution to deny an incumbent a second consequetive term so Anastasio was forced to give up power in 1972 (albeit to a crony puppet) but took office again in 1974. Like his father through he ruled from behind the scenes and this was no more evident than in the aftermath of the Managua earthquake.

In 1972 the capital city of Nicaragua was almost totally destroyed by a huge earhquake, paralysing the economy and and leaving hundredrs of thousands of people homeless. Donations came in from all over the World but hardly a penny reached the rebuilding fund, syphoned off as it was by the regime's cronies.

Using the disatisfaction around this issue as a springboard marxist rebels in the countryside began to attack targets associated with the regime - Nation Guard stations, Army outposts - and increasing numbers of the Catholic clergy came out against the government. With the country already under pressure the situation was inflamed futher when in January 1978 the editor of the anti regime newspaper La Prensa, was gunned down on his way to work. Somoza family buildings were looted and destroyed and the country was shut down for two weeks by a general strike. These protests escalated reaching a peak in June 1979 with guerilla activities cutting a swathe throughout the republic. Somoza eventually fled to Miami on July 17th and the Marxist FLSN took Managua two days later. Somoza latterly moved to Paraguay with plans to liveout his retirement; plans that were cut rather short when his car was blown up in Asuncion by left wing Argentine guerillas.

Length of Rule - Thirteen years

Related Links

The Somoza Dynasty

The Morgue

Somoza's demands to step down peacefully from power

Books

Death of Somoza

Claribel Alegria, Darwin J. Flakoll

The Regime of Anastasio Somoza

Walter Knut

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