After 1909 stability was based more on foreign influence than by internal strength.
In 1912 the government asked the U.S. government
to intercede and guarantee security, which the U.S. did immediately and remained
until 1933. During this period the country remained relatively stable although there
were regular riots and underground movements.
Even after the removal of U.S. troops in
1933, U.S. involvement remained and in 1936 Anastasio Somoza Garcia took the presidency
with U.S. support. He and his family ruled the country from this point until 1979,
primarily due to political moves that included changing laws and placing relatives
and family friends into positions of power.
The rule of the Somoza Garcia family was controversial and even many conservatives
fought their power. Their rule also encouraged revolts from the middle class and
created more extreme liberals with a tendency for violence. However, their rule
was fairly stable, although heavily biased in favor of personal interests and in
order to maintain U.S. support. U.S. companies
controlled most of the country's lumber and beef industries as laws were altered
to favor these industries.
The fall from power of the Somoza Garcia family began in 1972 when a massive earthquake
struck the capital city of Managua, leading to great destruction. Both
Cuba and the Soviet Union volunteered aid and hence gained greater support
from the people. Two years later rebels took government officials hostage, received
a ransom, and escaped, adding more pressure to the government. These actions encouraged
the government to burn villages and towns suspected of supporting the liberal revolutionaries
and this led to civil war in 1978 when non-violent activist Pedro Chamorro was killed.
By 1979 the government collapsed and the rebels took the country, but after the
long war the country was ravaged. Cities were destroyed, diseases were rampant,
and the heavy use of pesticides under Somoza Garcia rule led to bad water, leading
to further deaths. This new group, the Sandinistas, won the 1984 election and soon
turned to Cuba and the Soviet Union for support. This shift
in political affiliations put Nicaragua squarely with
the Soviets in the Cold War and tensions rose between Nicaragua and the
United States, along with other Central American countries allied with the
In 1990 a surprise free election was undertaken and the Sandinistas party lost power,
giving it up freely. Since this time, Nicaragua has had
a fairly open and free election process as differing parties have taken power with
nearly every election since 1990.