Nicaragua, officially the Revolutionary Republic of Nicaragua (Spanish: República Revolucionaria de Nicaragua), is a country in Central America bordered to the northwest by Honduras, to the south by Costa Rica, to the east by the Caribbean Sea, and to the southwest by the Pacific Ocean.
Turn of the Century
Nicaragua had a history of American military presence ever since the toppling of President José Santos Zelaya’s regime in 1909, when he executed two US mercenaries, resulting in direct intervention by the United States government. The United States itself drafted Nicaragua’s new constitution, while Zelaya himself fled to Spain. The period after Zelaya resulted in four brief presidencies, the first being led by José Madriz who tried to continue the struggle against the United States occupation but resigned less than a year into his presidency in August of 1910.
The second of the period of four presidencies was José Dolores Estrada, who served for a brief week from August 20th, 1920 to August 27th, 1920. He handed the presidency over to his brother, Luis Mena who served for an even shorter period from August 27th, 1910 to August 30th, 1910. With the three Anti-US presidents overthrown, Juan José Estrada became the provisional president of the republic. Unlike the previous three, he was for US presence in Nicaragua, and his regime saw a vast increase of US marine presence in Nicaragua.
On May 9th, 1911, Estrada’s provisional presidency was over and Adolfo Díaz was officially inaugurated as the 12th president of the republic. Adolfo faced many liberal revolts against his regime due to his pro-US stance, which resulted in even more of an increase of US Marine presence to help suppress the revolts. Soon to be president Emiliano Chamorro Vargas helped Diaz negotiate the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, which gave the United States official permission to build a canal in Nicaragua. The rest of Diaz’s presidency was mainly uneventful, with it ending in 1916, with Vargas becoming president with the help of the United States, with his major objective being to pay off foreign debts. His presidency was rather uneventful, with Diego Manuel Chamorro becoming president in 1921.
Chamorro’s regime saw a vast improvement in relations with other Central American countries, with him also signing the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with all other countries in Central America. However, his death in 1923 resulted in provisional president Bartolomé Martínez being sworn in until 1925. The 1925 elections were largely contested between former president Vargas and up and coming candidate, Carlos José Solórzano. The US government, believing the situation in Nicaragua to be stable, let the marines leave the area after his election.
The Beginning of the Revolution
Seemingly as soon as the marines left, Solorzano was couped in October of 1925, with his political opponent and former president Vargas taking control. However, Vargas failed to get support from the US, resulting in them entering military occupation once again, as Adolfo Diaz replaced the old president. This began the "Liberal Revolution" within Nicaragua, with former Vice President Juan Bautista Sacasa being sworn as president by the rebels, while being led by José María Monca with some support from Mexico.
As the rebels encroached upon the capital, the United States began negotiations before things got out of hand. This led to the signing of the Pact of Espino Negro, giving the United States Marines permission to have military presence in Nicaragua, Diaz being able to complete his presidential term until elections could be held in 1928, and to have the Nicaraguan liberals and conservatives dismantle their armies in favor of the United States forming a military force for them known as the Guardia Nacional.
Two men refused to follow these terms. The man who was supposed to be president for the liberals Juan Bautista Sacasa and Augusto César Sandino, a minor leader during the revolution. Sacasa would retreat to Mexico, while Sandino would begin his own soon to be legendary resistance.
The Socialist Revolution
Sandino’s army was small, only around 300 strong, but his desperate resistance inspired many around the world. Meeting up with fellow revolutionary in the north Francisco Sequeira Moreno, both of them launched many raids against the United States Marines. Sandino and Moreno’s base was finally discovered by US Marines in January of 1928. Losing 30 of their men, he retreated further south. As Sandino learned more about Guerilla Warfare, his attacks began to become effective, with his whereabouts being harder to discover and killing more and more US Marines in each raid. Sandino set official demands, including the resignation of President Díaz, withdrawal of U.S. troops, new elections to be supervised by Latin American countries, and the abrogation of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, later expanding it to include the reformation of the United Provinces of Central America and later considering the possibility of a Indo-Latin American Continental and Antillean Federation.
However, Sandino despite being liked by many began to run out of funders for his revolution. This led a year-long exile in Mexico while Moreno continued the fight in Nicaragua, where Sandino met Emiliano Zapata. He met up with many, including taking a trip to Europe to gather attention there, managing to even earn minor support from the Commune of France and the Union of Britain. After returning to Mexico, Zapata decided to officially support Sandino, with them returning to Nicaragua in October of 1929. Receiving a massive boost in support, Sandino and Moreno began their push from the south. His success in gaining foreign traction for his cause resulted in a huge expansion of his forces and popularity, with his forces numbering up to 3500 by February of 1930, along with support from local peasantry. The US loses began to skyrocket compared to before, and with the Great Depression reaching its height, US troops left Nicaragua in February of 1931, as Sandino’s forces grew more and more.
Sandino began a march on the capital, declaring that the “Liberal Revolution has evolved”. With support all around the country and the lack of development of the Guardia Nacional force due to the unexpected early retreat of the United States, the current president José María Moncada resigned, and Sandino was declared the president of Nicaragua. Moncada and the leftovers of the Guardia Nacional led by Anastasio Somoza García retreated north to Honduras, lying there to this day waiting for a chance to return.
Aftermath of the Revolution
Following the liberation of the capital, the United States issued a strongly worded warning to Sandino and the republic itself. While none of it was written in stone, it was the United States saying to leave their interests in the east untouched, otherwise, they will return. To this day, as a result, Nicaraguan troops have yet to step into the east of their country in the fear of waking the sleeping giant against them.
With the success of the “Liberal Revolution”, Juan Bautista Sacasa refused to sign the Pact of Espino Negro and has been cooperating with Sandino who sent him support when he arrived in Nicaragua again in 1931. While less fervent on spreading revolution in Central America like Sandino, he is an important partner for Sandino’s legitimacy due to their mutual interest in trying to throw off the shackles of the US' influence. Along with this, he has his main partner in the civil war Francisco Sequeira Moreno helping the regime as well, showing the peasants of Nicaragua that their struggle was not pointless and that even the most simple of men can make a difference.
With new elections coming in 1936 and the existence of tangible political opposition to Sandino, the fate of the revolutionary republic is yet to be seen.
President: Augusto César Sandino
Vice president: Carlos Salgado
Minister of foreign affairs: Juan Pablo Umanzor
Minister of finance and public credit: Francisco Estrada
Minister of the interior: Carmen Torres