Nicaragua: Background

 

 

Historical Timeline

1502
First known contact with Europeans as Columbus sails along the coast.
 
1522
Spanish explorers reach Lago de Nicaragua. Cities of Grenada and Leon founded.
 
1821
Central American provinces declare their independence from Spain.
 
1822
Central American provinces annex themselves to an independent Mexican Empire under Emperor Agustin I.
 
1823
Agustin I overthrown. Nicaragua, along with Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, form the Central American Federation.
 
1825
Central American Federation and the United States sign Treaty of Friendship.
 
1839
Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica secede from Central American Federation.
 
1848
British seize Nicaraguan port at Rio San Juan.
 
1855
American William Walker, hired by liberals in Leon, takes over the conservative city of Granada.
 
1856
Walker seizes the Presidency and institutionalizes slavery.
 
1857
Walker is ousted by a coalition of liberals and conservatives and executed in 1860.
 
1870's
Coffee becomes the principle crop in Nicaragua and foreign investment is encouraged.
 
1893
Liberal revolt brought Jose Santos Zelaya into power.
 
1894
Dispute with Britain over port is resolved and Nicaragua reincorporates land.
 
1909
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.
 
1927
General Augusto C. Sandino refuses to accept peace accord and leads guerilla force against US Marines.
 
1932
Earthquake destroys Managua.
 
1933
General Anastasio Somoza Garcia named director of non-partisan National Guard. US Marines withdraw.
 
1934
US-trained General Somoza engineers assassination of liberal opposition leader Augusto Sandino. Somoza rules for over 20 years, amassing great personal land and wealth.
 
1956
Somoza assassinated; sons Luis and Anastasio, Jr. retain control of Nicaragua.
 
1960
The Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) is founded to protest the continuing Somoza regime.
 
1961
Central American Common Market formed to establish free trade and strengthen economies.
 
1972
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.
 
1978
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.
 
1982
US House passes Boland Amendment, which prohibits the United States from supplying Nicaraguan Contras with weapons.
 
1984
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.
 
1985
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.
 
1986
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.
 
1990
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.
 
1995
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.