The Infamous Somoza Family

The Somoza dynasty began on 1 February 1896 with the birth of Anastasio Somoza Garcia. He was born to a coffee planter in Managua and led the privileged life that the wealthy often do. Because of their financial situation, Anastasio Somoza Garcia was able to receive an education at various American schools in Philadelphia where the family had relatives. It was in the United States of America that Somoza Garcia met his wife, Salvadora Debayle Sacsa, the heiress of a wealthy family.

This event marked the beginning of the Somoza family’s influence and control over this Caribbean country. On returning to Nicaragua, Somoza Garcia attempted to cement his reputation as a businessman but failed hopelessly. However, his interest in political parties and astute sense of politics propelled him to quickly rise to power. The influence and backing of his wife’s family certainly helped him in this regard.

On 1 January 1937, his began serving his first albeit unofficial presidential term Commander in Chief of Nicaragua which lasted until 1951 when he was officially elected as the President of Nicaragua. Somosa’s heavy handedness and ruthless approach as President resulted in the exile of many of his opponents and whose their land and businesses were confiscated in order to enhance the Somoza family’s wealth.

Somoza Garcia’s rule ended abruptly with his assignation but his son, Luis Somoza Debayle ascended to the Presidency in 1957.

Somoza Debayle ruled Nicaragua until 1963 and, while he also used his position to secure wealth and land for his family, he was a more subtle and even-tempered ruler than his father. Though Debayle declined the opportunity to run for a second presidential term, Nicaragua was not yet free of the Somoza’s grip on the country. Politicians that sided with the Somoza family held the office until Somoza Debayle’s younger brother was able to resume the family’s control of Nicaragua. Somoza Debayle died of a heart attack only two months’ later.

Anastasio Somoza Debayle ruled from 1974 until 1981 and was as aggressive as his father. However, he resigned from office in 1979 after a string of accusations from international sectors and after violent protests started on the streets. The assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal also led to demonstrations and strikes across Nicaragua. Anastasio Somoza Debayle was later exiled only to be assassinated on 17 September 1980.

The Somoza family ruled Nicaragua for more than 40 years while expanding their own wealth and with little regard about how they obtained their riches. Their rule also led to tragedy – not only for the Nicaraguans but for the family and generations. While none of these men are alive today to reap the benefits of their greed and manipulation, it is the members of the Somoza family – the wives and children – that are unfortunately left behind to pick up the pieces of broken dreams and overzealous ambitions in hopes of carrying on with their lives.