Chronology of Nicaraguan history


Independence from Spain won by Central American Federation, of which Nicaragua was a part.


Break up of Central American Federation.


US troops invade Nicaragua to prevent President Zelaya building a rival to the Panama Canal with German and Japanese backing. Nicaragua in effect becomes a semi-colony of USA.


US troops again intervene to crush Liberal - led national uprising, after which a permanent force of US Marines are based in Nicaragua.


US Marines withdrawn from Nicaragua. Two months later civil war starts out after Conservatives break their coalition with the Liberals and seize power in coup. US troops immediately return.


Liberals agree to surrender on US terms, but one Liberal leader, General Sandino, refuses and continues to fight on with his 300 strong force based in the north.


With promise that US Marines will leave (which they did in 1933) Sandino agrees to stop fighting after receiving guarantees for some peasant co-operatives.


Sandino killed as he attends banquest in the Presidential Palace in a plot arranged by Somoza, then head of the' Nicaraguan National Guard, and the US Ambassador.


Somoza seizes power and used his position to eventually become the richest person in Central America. Somoza was assassinated in 1956 and was succeeded by his eldest son, who in turn was replaced by his younger brother after his death in 1967. By 1979 the Somoza family had a fortune of $150 million inside Nicaragua plus millions more abroad.


New Sandinista guerrilla campaign under General Raudeles opens up in the north of the country.


Foundations of FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) by Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga and Tomas Borge. Fonseca was a former member of the PSN (the pro - Moscow communist party) who had met Che Guevara in Cuba after being wounded in 1959 with the Sandinista guerillas.


FSLN begins guerilla activity.


After heavy defeats the FSLN suspends all military activity.


Earthquake destroys the Nicaraguan capital Managua.


FSLN restarts military activity a few days after the formation of the Democratic Liberation Union (UDEL), a 'popular front' of liberal capitalists and workers' organisations.


FSLN majority expel the 'Proletarian Tendency' led by Jaime Wheelock which opposes all military adventurism and argued for the FSLN to root itself first in the proletariat.


Further division within the FSLN between the majority Tercerista' tendency and the 'protracted people's war' tendency GPP). The Tercerists, led by Daniel Ortega favoured commando-type actions, urban guerrilla activity similar to that of the Uruguayan Tupamaros, an orientation toward an earlier uprising and supported the idea of broad alliances with sections of the bourgeoisie. The GPP, led originally by Tomas Borge, wanted to maintain a strategy of rural guerrilla warfare.


Somoza lifts state of emergency after apparently crushing FSLN, but one month later Tercerista tendency of FSLN launches new attacks. In November UDEL publish appeal calling for the creation of a democratic alternative to Somoza regime which should include FSLN.


Assassination by Somoza of UDEL leader and "La Prensa' movement against regime. 120,000 attend Chamorro's funeral, employers and unions call general strike FSLN stage more attacks.

July, formation of FAO, a broad opposition front linking together forces ranging from the MDN, led by the millionaire industrialist Alfonso Robelo, to the FSLN Terceristas. The Terceristas carried on military attacks while the proletarian tendency' and GPP wings carried on widespread political work. Uprisings and strikes develop throughout the country, although the September movement in Leon and Esteli is suppressed with the loss of 6,000 lives.

November Terceristas break from FAO in protest at US interference in talks between the FAD and Somoza.


February: Formation of National Patriotic Front (FPN) by the Sandinistas, trade unions, MPU la front of popular organisations) and some minor bourgeois groups.

March: Reunification of FSLN and resumption of its military offensive amid continuing mass movements. Steadily new fronts were opened up.

June: Spontaneous uprising in the capital, Managua. Formation of exile provisional government made up of 3 Sandinistas and their supporters and two capitalists.

July: Entry of Sandinistas into Managua marks the end of civil war which killed over 50,000 (2% of Nicaragua's population). At this time the FSLN had no more than 500 members. On July 20 the provisional government became the Government Junta of National Reconstruction (JGRN) with a 3 to 2 Sandinista majority and the assets of the Somoza family nationalised. Today the two original capitalist members of the Junta support the 'Contras'.