a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial


Nicaraguan Gvt vs Sandinistas

Years: 1978-1979
Battle deaths: 10,000 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2014-08-10 17:25:02
The FSLN was formally organised on July 23, 1961 by Carlos Fonseca Amador, Tomás Borge Martínez and Silvio Mayorga. It eventually became Marxist-aligned, and like many Communist groups began to present its struggle as a "movement for national liberation". The point being that the old goverment was oppressing the people, exploiting them and violating their rights, while the opposition promised to remedy all that.

The Sandinistas took their name from Augusto César Sandino (1895-1934), a leader in the country’s nationalist rebellion against the United States military occupation of Nicaragua in the 1920s and early 1930s until his assassination by the US-created Guardia Nacional (National Guard) enabled Somoza to seize control of the country.

Inspired and supported by the Cubans, the FSLN tried with little success to organise guerrilla warfare against Somoza in the 1960s. In the 1970s, it began to attract significant support from the country’s increasingly politicised peasantry and from other sectors of the population in response to the dictatorship’s brutality and corruption, especially after the earthquake that levelled the capital city, Managua, on 23 December 1972. The earthquake killed 20,000 of the city’s 400,000 residents and left another 250,000 homeless. Somoza’s National Guard embezzled much of the international aid that flowed into the country to assist in reconstruction, and several parts of downtown Managua were never rebuilt. This overt corruption caused even people who had previously supported the regime, such as business leaders, to turn against Somoza and call for his overthrow.

On 10 January 1978, the assassination of Pedro Chamorro, who edited the anti-Somoza newspaper La Prensa, sparked a broad uprising against the regime, with the Sandinistas leading a combination of general strikes, urban uprisings and rural guerrilla attacks that increasingly demoralised the National Guard. Despite an overwhelming superiority in arms and ruthless tactics that included the aerial bombardment of Nicaraguan cities, Somoza’s army disintegrated; he fled the country on 17 July 1979, and was later assassinated in Paraguay. Two days after Somoza’s departure, the Sandinistas entered Managua and were greeted by huge crowds as national liberators.

Source: Wikipedia, published under the GNU FDL. Retrieved [dat]


Data Sources

[1] Battle deaths: PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset v3.0 (link) (1946-88) ID: #140
Low: 10,000 High: 35,000

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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