As an ordinary person on the street about Nicaragua, and you are sure to receive a bevy of responses. Tourists may make a note of its beaches and volcanoes, adventure travelers may remark about the surfing opportunities along the coast, those with an ear to politics may mention the conflict between Sandinistas and the Contra’s, and then there are countries close ties to the United States. Its political and social landscape mirrors the often-volatile geological events that tend to wreak havoc upon this Central American country periodically.
With the largest area in all Central America, Nicaragua is a country that has dealt with a lot of change and strife throughout its history. The same geological and seismic activity that formed the numerous volcanoes throughout the country also wrack the nation with earthquakes. So severe are these earthquakes that the capital city has been destroyed twice within the 20th century. It is a heartbreaker and is a true shame, but Nicaraguans have been dealing with natural disasters since time immemorial. They suffer, but they bounce back. With a mere 4. 2 million in population (the least densely populated country in Central America) one would expect that Nicaragua can come together and overcome the hurdles that its nation encounters. However, as it turns out, this is easier said than done.
Political, social, cultural and financial turmoil have unfortunately plagued Nicaragua since the Spanish first step foot on its shores. Spanish Conquistadors immediately set out and began subduing the indigenous populace, of which many were mostly enslaved or killed in the end. Colonization of Nicaragua then ensued, and Spain pretty much had free reign of the land. Sure they encountered small rebellions, uprising, and civil unrest, but with the might of the Spanish fleets and armored soldiers, they were able to keep the civilians subjugated. It wasn’t until a new, and rising superpower decided to meddle in their affairs that the fate of Nicaraguans began to change.
The United States has had a habit, throughout history, of “sticking their nose” into other country’s business, and Nicaragua was no different. Sensing that the ongoing in Nicaragua may affect trade and other socioeconomic factors, the United States have periodically backed ad funded several parties and groups in performing civil uprisings. Take the Somoza family, for example. The prominent family ran the entire country for 40 years. It’s widely know that they were well funded and provisioned by the United States and were considered to be their lackey. These dictators then faced opposition in the face of the Sandinistas which eventually succeeded to overthrow the Samoa’s in 1979.
The Sandinistas considered themselves to be Marxist revolutionaries and earnestly tried to make their country a better place for all. They attempted to pass social and economic reforms that would have drastically changed the landscape that the Somoza family carved out. Unfortunately, the United States government has always had a knee jerk reaction to anything remotely resembling socialism or communism. Also, the Sandinistas were not as keen to “play ball” with Uncle Sam, and this represented a big problem for the United States, who saw an uncontrollable Nicaraguan government as a dangerous one.
1980-1981 saw the formation of a small group of known as Contrarrevolucion (Counter-revolution), which was composed of Somoza loyalists along the borders of the country. This group was not only loyal to the Somoza family but were also tired of the changes that the Sandinista regime was trying to enforce. There were allegations that heavy handed tactics (much like those used by the Soviet government) employed, and that those were violating Human Rights. Nonetheless, the United States, along with neighboring Honduras, saw this as an opportunity to dethrone the ruling Sandinistas perhaps. The two foreign countries backed, supported, and armed the Contras.
Unsurprisingly, and perhaps by design, a civil war erupted and raged on for well over seven years. The losses, both military and civilian, were high. The country destabilized which meant that it posed little threat to American interests, but the war machine is not so quickly stopped and went on for much longer than most anticipated. The war ended when peace talks between all parties began in the late eighties and thanks to a couple of democratic elections, peace finally settled over Nicaragua in the nineties. The civil war may be over, but the scars and damage it has left behind are plain to see today. Modern day Nicaragua stands as an independent country, but a cursory glance through its checkered past reveals a tale of subjugation, manipulation and external influence. Nicaraguans, many of which are used to rebuilding and growing past natural disasters, were naturally the victims of corruption, political discord, and economic turmoil, much of which they never had any influence over.
About author of this essay: Jeffrey S., freelance paper writer, https://www.advancedwriters.com