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Nicaraguan Biographies/History



ALTAMIRANO, Pedro. General. Known as "Pedron." A Liberal general who fought alongside Sandino and was famed for his innovative ways of killing people with a machete. As one admirer delicately put it: "the fearsome Pedron never forgave a collaborationist." The Sandinista army has named a BLI after him.

BOLIVAR, Simon. Liberator. Internationalist military brigade named after him fought against Somoza. Sandinistas then sent them home, replacing them with Cubans. A Sandinista army BLI is named after him.

CASTRO Castro, Andres. Prominent Nicaraguan nationalist hero. At the battle of San Jacinto, September 14, 1856, Castro is said to have used a rock to bash in the head of an unknown American follower of William Walker. An ERN/North Regional Command is named for him.

CHAMORRO Cardenal, Pedro Joaquin. Anti-Somoza martyr. Born in 1924; died 1978. Educated at the Jesuit Colegio in Granada. A leader of the student "Generation of 44" known for its democratic spirit and opposition to dictatorship. Finished his law degree in exile at the National University of Mexico. Assumed the editorship of La Prensa in 1952. Imprisoned for his role in a 1954 anti-Somoza revolt. Released in 1956 but arrested again after the assassination of Somoza Garcia. Escaped to Costa Rica in 1957. Traveled to Cuba in the spring of 1959. Imprisoned after the failure of the "Olama y Mollejones" attempt against Somoza. Prominent in efforts to convert the Conservative Party to revolutionary Christian Democracy. Arrested as one of the leaders of the UNO riots of January 1967. Put together the UDEL opposition coalition of conservatives and leftists in 1974 after breaking with Aguero over the Liberal-Conservative pact of 1971. Continued his internationally known newspaper crusade against Somoza until assassinated on January 10, 1978. Chamorro's death led to massive protests and a 3-week national strike

Pedro Joaquin CHAMORRO Cardenal. (© AP/Wide World Photos)

sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. It is widely viewed as the major event catalyzing Nicaraguan opinion against Somoza. His elder son, Pedro Joaquin, is a member of the Nicaraguan Resistance Directorate. His daughter, Claudia, is FSLN Ambassador to Costa Rica. His younger son, Carlos Fernando worked as a propagandist for the Sandinistas and now edits the FSLN party daily, Barricada. His daughter, Cristiana, works for La Prensa. His widow, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was a member of first governing junta after Somoza's ouster but resigned quietly after the FSLN revealed its intransigence. Today she is publisher of La Prensa.

COLINDRES, Juan Gregorio. Former combatant under Sandino. Killed by the National Guard in an anti- Somoza rebellion in 1948 that had Conservative Party backing. A Sandinista army BLI is named after him.

DARIO, Ruben. Nicaraguan poet, the most famous Central American poet, and the best Spanish American modernist poet. Born on January 18, 1867, in Metapa, Matagalpa. Died on February 6, 1916, in Leon. His "Ode to Theodore Roosevelt" is a classic of cultural nationalism.

ESTRADA, Gen. Francisco. Liberal general. Executed in 1934 with Sandino and General Umanzor. A Sandinista army BLI is named after him.

ESTRADA, Gen. Jose Dolores. Nicaraguan patriotic hero. Leader in the September 14, 1856, Battle of San Jacinto that helped lead to William Walker's defeat. An ERN/North Regional Command is named after him.

HERRERA, Rafaela. Directed the defense of the Castle of the Immaculate Conception at the Battle of San Juan, 1782, when her father, the Spanish comandante, was ill. Participating in the battle was the future Admiral Nelson, who was to later defeat Napoleon's fleet at Trafalgar. An ERN/ North Regional Command is named for her.

LOPEZ Perez, Rigoberto. Poet and dissident Liberal who assassinated President Somoza Garcia on September 21, 1956. Lopez was killed, and Somoza Garcia's sons Luis and Anastasio Somoza Debayle assumed the presidency and directorship of the National Guard, respectively.

NICARAO, Cali. Indian chieftain in what is now known as Rivas, circa 1500 AD Entered into a treaty with the Spanish who began to refer to the territory as Nicarao. Eventually the word became "Nicaragua." An ERN/ North Regional Command is named after him.

ORTIZ Centeno, Pedro Pablo. Former National Guard sergeant. Fought against Pastora's troops on the Southern Front during 1979, before escaping by sea to El Salvador. Known as "Suicida" for his ability to get his men in and out of firefights no one would have been expected to survive. As founder of the "Anti-Sandinista Guerrilla Special Forces" in late 1979, he led one of the first armed groups against the new Sandinista government. Later integrated his forces into the FDN. Arrested, tried, court-martialed, and executed by the FDN on charges of rape and killing of prisoners in late 1983.

RAUDALES, Ramon. General. A member of Sandino's General Staff in the 1930s. In September 1958, Raudales, at age 68, entered Nicaragua from Honduras with fellow Sandino General Heriberto Reyes and less than 40 men, beginning a guerrilla campaign in the Nueva Segovia mountains. Called


¿¿¿ Anastasio SOMOZA Garcia (left) and Augusto Cesar SANDINO (right). 1934.

themselves the "First Liberation Army of Nicaragua." Killed in combat in October 1958. A Sandinista army BLI is named in his honor. His son, Jose Ramon Raudales (see his entry), joined the FSLN after his father's death, trained in Cuba, fought under Tomas Borge, and worked as a DGSE agent after the fall of Somoza, then left the FSLN in 1985 over what he considers the Sandinistas' betrayal of the revolution.

REYES, General Heriberto. A member of Sandino's General Staff during the 1930s. While in exile with Gen. Ramon Raudales in Costa Rica in late 1953, met Che Guevara who was working his way north to Guatemala and Mexico, where he would later meet Fidel Castro. Spent hours passing tales of Sandino's guerrilla exploits and theories on to the Argentine-born future guerrilla internationalist. Fought with Raudales in the 1958 "First Liberation Army of Nicaragua." Died in action against the National Guard in December 1959. A Sandinista army BLI has been named after him. His nephew, "Pedro Rafa" (Aquiles Miranda), also fought against Somoza since 1959 and is now a Resistance commander fighting the FSLN.

SANDINO, Augusto Cesar. Born in Niquinohomo, Masaya, on May 19, 1895. Betrayed and shot on February 21, 1934. Liberal General in the Conservative-Liberal wars. Rose to fame as a guerrilla fighter against the US intervention in Nicaragua. Named his forces the "Army in Defense of National Sovereignty." Contrary to FSLN historical revisionism, Sandino was neither a Marxist nor a communist. Agustin Farabundo Marti, founder of the Communist Party of El Salvador, who served briefly with Sandino as a personal secretary, wrote in February 1931: "My break with Sandino was not, as is sometimes said, for divergence of moral principles or opposing norms of conduct. He would not embrace my communist program. His banner was only that of national independence." A Marti confidant put it this way: "Marti broke with Sandino for ideological reasons. Although he considered Sandino a great anti-imperialist patriot, he broke with the narrow nationalist conceptions of this great popular caudillo who did not share the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist vision of class struggle and proletarian internationalism" of Marti. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias commented in late 1986 that "if Sandino were alive today, he would be a contra." His daughter now lives in Texas.

SANDINO, Socrates. Brother of Augusto Cesar Sandino. Killed at the house of Sofonias Salvatierra on February 21, 1934, the night Sandino was executed. The Sandinista army has named a BLI after him.

SANTOS Lopez, Colonel. Fought as a very young man with Sandino's "Choir of Angels," a commando unit composed of adolescents. Along with Raudales and Reyes, he was one of the few links between the FSLN and Sandino. After the deaths in combat of Ramon Raudales and Heriberto Reyes in 1958 and 1959, Santos Lopez was recruited to lead the military training of the cadre of the newly formed FSLN in 1961. Worked in 1962-63 with Carlos Fonseca and Tomas Borge in formulating and executing the plan for guerrilla war in the Rio Coco. Che Guevara reportedly fought under his command in northern Nicaragua in June 1963. The Sandinista army has named a BLI after him.

SOMOZA Debayle, Anastasio. President of Nicaragua, 1967-72; 1974-79. Third Somoza to be President. Born in Leon in 1925. Assassinated in Asuncion, Paraguay in September 1980 by an internationalist death-squad believed to be linked to the FSLN. Studied at La Salle Military Academy, Long Island, NY Graduated from the US Military Academy, West Point, NY, in 1946. After the 1956 assassination of his father, "Tacho" Somoza Garcia, assumed control of the National Guard while his older brother Luis became president. Known as "Tachito" (Little Tacho). After the death of Luis, had himself "elected" president in 1967 and 1974 elections boycotted by much of the opposition. Diverted international emergency and development aid provided after the December 1972 Managua earthquake to the family's coffers. Fled Nicaragua on July 17, 1979, after nearly 2 years of intermittent civil war.

SOMOZA Debayle, Luis. President of Nicaragua 1956-63. Born in 1922. Trained as an Engineer. Be-


came president after the assassination of his father, Anastasio Somoza Garcia. Liberalized Somoza family rule to some extent. Allowed Rene Schick to serve as president, 1963-67. Died of a heart attack in April 1967.

SOMOZA Garcia, Anastasio. Founder of the Somoza family dynasty. President of Nicaragua, 1937-47, 1951-56. Born in 1896. Assassinated by dissident Liberal Rigoberto Lopez Perez in September 1956. Educated in Granada and in Philadelphia. Son of a Conservative senator. Joined the Liberal rebellion of 1926. Became the first director of the National Guard, created with the hope of forming a national army to replace the long-warring Liberal and Conservative armies. After the departure of the Marines, used the National Guard to vault into power. Had Augusto Cesar Sandino killed in February 1934 and deposed President Sacasa in 1936. Transformed the National Guard and the Liberal Party into instruments of personal power.

SOMOZA Portocarrero, Anastasio. Heir-apparent to the Somoza dynasty in 1979. Born in 1951. Known as "El Chiguin" (The Punk). Studied at Harvard Business School and Sandhurst. Prominent in the official corruption after the December 1972 earthquake in Managua. Directed the Basic Infantry Training School (1977-July 1979). Commanded the repression of urban insurrections in 1978.

SPADAFORA, Hugo. Panamanian internationalist who fought Somoza, then the FSLN. Born in 1940. From a middle-class provincial Panamanian family. Studied medicine in Bologna, Italy, where he joined the Italian Socialist Party. While studying in Cairo in 1965, he met Amilcar Cabral, then served as a doctor for guerrillas in Guinea-Bissau in 1966-67. Returned to join the unrest in Panama. Arrested for plotting against the military government of Omar Torrijos in 1969, but later joined Torrijo's movement. Served as Panamanian Deputy Health Minister from 1976 to 1978. Resigned to lead the 330-man Victoriano Lorenzo Brigade to assist the FSLN on the Southern Front. After the Sandinista victory, Spadafora and the other Panamanians were told their help was not needed in reorganizing the armed forces as the Cubans would do that. Ideologically a non-Marxist revolutionary social democrat, Spadafora was with Eden Pastora when the latter broke with the FSLN in April 1982. In September 1986, his severed head was found in Costa Rica in a crime thought by many to have been carried out by elements of the Panama Defense Force.

UMANZOR, General Juan Pablo. One of Sandino's generals, Umanzor was shot with Sandino, February 1934. A Sandinista army BLI is named after him.

URCUYO Maliano, Francisco. President of Nicaragua after Somoza's July 17, 1979, departure. Lasted 40 hours, 43 minutes, before he was replaced by the coalition GRN. Known as "El Breve" (The Brief One). Fled to Guatemala on July 19, 1979.

WALKER, William. North American filibusterer who declared himself President of Nicaragua in 1856. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1824. Medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and advanced medical studies at the Sorbonne, Paris. Abandoned a career as a muckraking newspaper editor to lead a small army of American mercenaries in an abortive invasion of western Mexico in 1853. Entering Nicaragua with a band of 56 men, he declared himself President of the Republic. Instituted slavery in September 1856 in a move he said was intended to "bind the Southern States to Nicaragua." Militarily defeated in 1857. Made two more attempts to control Nicaragua: the first time he was captured by a US warship and returned to New Orleans, where he stood trial for violating the Neutrality Act; the second time, he was captured by British and Honduran sailors and executed in Trujillo, Honduras, on September 12, 1860.