Nicaragua: Background



Historical Timeline

First known contact with Europeans as Columbus sails along the coast.
Spanish explorers reach Lago de Nicaragua. Cities of Grenada and Leon founded.
Central American provinces declare their independence from Spain.
Central American provinces annex themselves to an independent Mexican Empire under Emperor Agustin I.
Agustin I overthrown. Nicaragua, along with Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, form the Central American Federation.
Central American Federation and the United States sign Treaty of Friendship.
Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica secede from Central American Federation.
British seize Nicaraguan port at Rio San Juan.
American William Walker, hired by liberals in Leon, takes over the conservative city of Granada.
Walker seizes the Presidency and institutionalizes slavery.
Walker is ousted by a coalition of liberals and conservatives and executed in 1860.
Coffee becomes the principle crop in Nicaragua and foreign investment is encouraged.
Liberal revolt brought Jose Santos Zelaya into power.
Dispute with Britain over port is resolved and Nicaragua reincorporates land.
Liberal dictator Jose Santos Zelaya is overthrown, helped by United States funding to conservative forces. United States begins period of financial and military intervention 1911-33.
General Augusto C. Sandino refuses to accept peace accord and leads guerilla force against US Marines.
Earthquake destroys Managua.
General Anastasio Somoza Garcia named director of non-partisan National Guard. US Marines withdraw.
US-trained General Somoza engineers assassination of liberal opposition leader Augusto Sandino. Somoza rules for over 20 years, amassing great personal land and wealth.
Somoza assassinated; sons Luis and Anastasio, Jr. retain control of Nicaragua.
The Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) is founded to protest the continuing Somoza regime.
Central American Common Market formed to establish free trade and strengthen economies.
Devastating earthquake hits Nicaragua. Somoza regime mishandles crisis and majority of relief funds are funneled to the government. As a result, another opposition party is founded- the UDEL led by newspaper publisher Pedro Joaquin Chamorro. Daniel Ortega becomes leader of the FSLN.
Chamorro assassinated, resulting in public strikes and protests, some becoming violent. The revolt spreads and even moderates side with the FSLN to overthrown the Somoza regime. The US and the Organization of American States (OAS) fail in negotiations and the US suspends military aid to the region.
July 19, 1979
Somoza regime overthrown and Sandinista-led regime assumes power. Sandinistas immediately begin disassembling former Somoza compounds and forming farming cooperatives. The Reagan-led US, scared by this "people's movement", sent $10 million to aid Contra forces.
US House passes Boland Amendment, which prohibits the United States from supplying Nicaraguan Contras with weapons.
The US mines Nicaragua's harbors in a covert operation. Both US allies and enemies condemn this action. Nicaragua sues the US in World Court and in June 1986, the Court finds the US guilty of violating international law. Sandinista Daniel Ortega wins the presidency with 67% of the vote.
US suspends talks with Nicaragua. Reagan describes Contras as "freedom fighters" and initiates a trade embargo and economic sanctions. Congress approves humanitarian aid for Contras.
It is revealed that contrary to the Boland Amendment, the US has been supplying military aid to the Contras with funds diverted from the sale of US arms to Iran.
Violeta Chamorro, wife of assassinated politician Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, defeats Ortega in presidential election. The US opposed her election, claiming she had accepted Sandinista aid. After the election, the Sandinistas and the contras sign a permanent cease-fire and the contras demobilize.
Constitutional reform of the 1987 Sandinista constitution gave more power to the legislature.
October 20, 1996
Former Managua mayor Arnoldo Aleman elected to the presidency in elections that were proclaimed free and fair by international observers.
January 1997
First ever civilian-controlled Ministry of Defense created.
January 10, 1997
Aleman government inaugurated.
October 1998
Hurricane Mitch destroys infrastructure (hospitals, bridges, roads). 10,000 people die.
June 21-30th, 2000
The government of Nicaragua and Red Cross workers on Thursday the 22nd supplied medicine, food and blankets to help more than 5,000 people affected by flooding of the Rama River in eastern Nicaragua.
September 2001
A devastating drought and plummeting coffee prices have driven Nicaragua into one of its worst economic crises in years, bringing scenes of hunger, malnutrition and misery to its impoverished countryside. The crisis is unfolding in the midst of a heated campaign for the Nov. 4 presidential election.
January 11, 2002
In the Central American nation of Nicaragua, 73-year-old businessman Enrique Bolanos took the presidential oath of office on Thursday. Some observers pointed to blatant US intervention in the outcome of the election.
March, 2002
Daniel Ortega is re-elected as the leader of the opposition Sandinista party, despite his three consecutive defeats since 1990.
August, 2002
Arnoldo Aleman, former president, is charged with money laundering and embezzlement during his presidency. He is tried and convicted for this crime and in December, 2003 he is sentenced to 20 years in prison for corruption.
December, 2003
Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador sign onto a free trade agreement with the United States. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or the Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) has been approved by President Bush, but has not yet been signed by Congress.
January, 2004
World Bank forgives 80% of Nicaragua's debt to the institution. President Bolanos claims this is the best news for Nicaragua in 25 years.