U.S. Involvement in Nicaragua

U.S. Involvement
in Nicaragua

Not very many Americans know the truth
that lies beneath the U.S.’ involvement in Nicaragua. Most would
be surprised to find out that U.S. armed forces and politicians violated

U.S. laws and deliberately sabotaged Nicaragua’s stable government by paying
the dictator’s henchmen to kill Nicaraguan citizens. The United States
is considered one of the major superpower nations in this world.

It is highly influential to other countries and often takes responsibility
to intervene with other another country’s problems—especially when it deals
with the spreading of communism. When Nicaragua’s dictatorship was
overthrown by the popular Sandinistas, a communist regime was successfully
put in place. The U.S. immediately feared that Nicaragua’s surrounding
countries would eventually become communist due to the Domino Theory.

The negative impact of becoming further engaged in the Nicaraguan politics
was destructive to both the U.S. and Nicaragua. These actions destabilized
the Nicaraguan economy, encouraged civil violence, and motivated members
of the American government to violate certain laws to continue their aid
to the guerillas.

To fully comprehend the negative impacts
of U.S. intervention in Nicaragua, one must be somewhat familiar with Nicaragua’s
history. The period in which the Somoza family ruled Nicaragua started
on New Year’s Day in 1937, when Anastasio Somoza Garcia had himself elected
president. The Somozas ran Nicaragua as their own private estate;

"...all three Somozas were dictators who ran the affairs of their country
to their personal benefit and against the interests of the vast majority
of their countrymen" (Walker 16). Under their dominion, life for
the Nicaraguan citizens was harsh, because they suffered from abject poverty.

They lived in inadequate housing, ate and dressed poorly, and were overall
extremely oppressed by their leaders’ corruption. When the people
finally realized that life wasn’t going to get any better, they decided
to turn to their only other option, the communist Sandinista government.

The U.S. were so anti-Communist that they began to send large sums of money
to Somoza’s Guardsmen (who the leaders of the Contras) in order to sabotage
the Sandinista government.

One of the goals the U.S. would like to
achieve when dealing with Third World nations is to help them become more
industrialized and economically stable. Unfortunately, the opposite
of this occurred in Nicaragua. Before U.S. involvement, Nicaragua’s
economy was reasonably sturdy in the sense that there was a consistent
flow of money in and out of the country. "With increasing investment
in Nicaragua, as a result of the Alliance for Progress, and the Central

American Common Market, this was a period of unprecedented progress" (Pastor,

35). It is obvious that stronger nations would not invest their time
and money into a country that was economically declining, thus displaying
that at this time, Nicaragua was doing quite well for a Third World nation.

With the correct equipment and help from richer nations, Nicaragua could
have benefited from the high quality of its land and resources, which would
raise the citizen’s yearly income and help with overcoming destitution.

U.S. money for the reconstruction of Managua after the incredibly huge

"Christmas Earthquake" in 1972 never reached where it was most needed.

Instead, Anastasio Somoza Debayle (the president of Nicaragua at the time)

"transformed a tragic national loss into a personal financial gain"
(Pastor, 36). Somoza’s greediness enticed him to pocket the money
instead of directing the funds where they were intended to go. Thus
very little was done to help the disaster victims and this is just another
example of how his dictatorship was oppressive to the people. This
quandary could have been simply avoided if the U.S. had sent an official
to manage the money and secure its proper usage.

Through the 1960’s, Nicaragua received
from the U.S. $92.5 million in economic aid, and $11 million in military
aid. From 1971 to 1976, Nicaragua received three times that amount
in economic aid but less in military. (Pastor, 43) From these
statistics, it seems that Nicaragua’s economy is being supported by U.S.
funding more each year. It is fair to say Nicaragua’s economy was
dependent on U.S. aid. When Somoza issued terror raids on his people,
the U.S. chose to impose sanctions withdrawing all funding to Nicaragua.

By advertising Somoza’s acts of human brutality, the U.S. was able to persuade
other countries to consider terminating their current aid to Nicaragua.

Not only did Nicaraguan slip further into debt, but also the situation
worsened for the poverty-stricken people. "Nicaragua’s economy had
failed to attain its prerevolution level in 1983. Investment had
stagnated or declined, depending on the sector. The external debt,
which was high at $1.5 billion in 1979, reached $3.8 billion in 1983.

Agriculture—the dynamic center of the economy before the revolution—declined
markedly.... As the war