Somoza family

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Republic of Nicaragua
República de Nicaragua
Anthem: Salve a ti, Nicaragua  (Spanish)
"Hail to Thee, Nicaragua"
Location of Nicaragua
Common languagesSpanish
GovernmentMilitary dictatorship
President of Nicaragua 
• 1936-1937
Carlos Alberto Brenes
• 1937-1947; 1950-1956
Anastasio Somoza García
• 1947
Leonardo Argüello Barreto
• 1947
Benjamín Lacayo Sacasa
• 1947-1950
Víctor Manuel Román y Reyes
• 1950
Manuel Fernando Zurita
• 1956-1963
Luis Somoza Debayle
• 1963-1966
René Schick
• 1966-1967
Lorenzo Guerrero
• 1967-1972; 1974-1979
Anastasio Somoza Debayle
LegislatureNational Congress of Nicaragua
Historical eraInterbellum, World War II, Cold War
January 1 1936
• Sandinist's Seizure of Power
July 17 1979
CurrencyNicaraguan córdoba
ISO 3166 codeNI
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Junta of National Reconstruction

The Somoza family (Spanish: Familia Somoza) was an autocratic family dictatorship in Nicaragua that lasted forty-three years, from 1936 to 1979. They were closely allied with the United States.


Anastasio Somoza García assumed the presidency after luring rebel leader Augusto César Sandino to peace talks, and murdering him soon afterwards. Somoza amended the Nicaraguan Constitution, concentrating all power in his hands, and appointed his relatives and cronies to top government positions.[1] After Anastacio Somoza was assassinated in 1956, his two sons, Luis and Anastasio Somoza Debayle, ruled the country until 1979.[2]

Although Somoza and his two sons legally held the presidency for only 30 of those 43 years, they were the power behind other presidents in the intervening years. They continued to control the National Guard. The differences in the Somozas' ruling style, from father to son, reflected their adaptation to the U.S.-Latin American policy.[3] Their regime was overthrown in 1979 by the Sandinista National Liberation Front during the Nicaraguan Revolution. The family fled to the United States on July 17, 1979, ending a civil war that devastated Nicaragua's economy and claimed more than 130,000 casualties.[4]

For their more than four decades in power, the Somoza family accumulated wealth through corporate bribes, industrial monopolies, land grabbing, and foreign aid siphoning. By the 1970s, the family owned 23 percent of the land in Nicaragua. The foreign aid-funded project to rebuild the city of Managua, which was devastated by the earthquake on December 23, 1972, was never implemented as businesses were forced to relocate to land owned by the family.[5] The Somoza's wealth reached $533 million, which amounted to half of Nicaragua's debt and 33 percent of the country's 1979 GDP.[6]

Three of the Somozas served as President of Nicaragua. They were:

Other members of the Somoza family include:


  1. ^ Newton, Michael (2014). Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 539. ISBN 9781610692854.
  2. ^ Keen, Benjamin; Haynes, Keith A. (2009). A History of Latin America. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 450. ISBN 978-0-618-78318-2.
  3. ^ Keen, Benjamin; Haynes, Keith (2009). A History of Latin America, Eight Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 450. ISBN 9780618783182.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Lee H.; Inouye, Daniel K. (1987). Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair. Washington, D.C.: DIANE Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-7881-2602-4.
  5. ^ Clifford, Staten (2010). The History of Nicaragua. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-313-36038-1.
  6. ^ Birdsall, Nancy; Williamson, John; Deese, Brian (2002). Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture. Washington, D.C.: Peterson Institute. pp. 134. ISBN 0881323314.
  7. ^ "She's Mrs. Santa to the whole city". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Managua. 25 December 1959. p. 43. Retrieved 21 January 2020 – via

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