The decision, nonetheless, did not end the armed competition between León and Granada. [7] George Black, “The 1972 Earthquake and after: Somocismo in Crisis,” in Nicaragua: Unfinished Revolution: The New Nicaragua Reader, Peter Rosset and John Vandermeer, eds. The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake occurred at 12:29:44 a.m. local time (06:29:44 UTC) on December 23 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Cotton and other exports fueled the growth of the capital through the 1950s and 1960s. On the contrary, Managua was never more alive as large sectors of the population, including the professional classes and scions of the old elite families, became infused with revolutionary fervor. Myrna’s work on the 1972 Managua disaster is going to be a valuable contribution to understanding modern Nicaragua. Her research has been on the oil industry in Mexico, focused on the social and environmental consequences of extraction. 7,000 people died and thousands of others were injured. The discontent with the Somozas did not start with the earthquakes. When this embezzlement became apparent, it helped fan already existing opposition to the regime throughout all levels of the Nicaraguan society. Since a purged FSLN returned to power in 2007, sections of the lakeside have experienced a process of nostalgic Disneyfication. Born on December 5, 1925 in León, Nicaragua,Anastasio Somoza Debayle, nicknamed Tachito, was the third member of the Somoza dynasty to be president of. [12] See for example, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Managua, Nicaragua Earthquake of December 23, 1972 Conference Proceedings, Vol. Two-thirds of Managua's 1,000,000 residents were displaced and faced food shortage and disease, and dry-season winds worsened the problem with fires created by the disaster. On December 23, 1972, a powerful earthquake shook Nicaragua, destroying most of the capital city. That is, they will say, “from the statue to Monsignor Lezcano, three blocks west, and two blocks to the lake,” and there you find what you are looking for. Migrants from the countryside kept the capital growing in the directions its geographical features allowed. [16] Edmundo Jarquín, “Revolución de oportunidades,” La Prensa, September 23, 2017, https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2017/09/23/columna-del-dia/2301693-revolucion-de-oportunidades. Nicaragua is a photojournalist's essay composed of 71 carefully chosen color photgraphs shot during the revolution. ( Log Out /  ( Log Out /  As in 1931, the quake was shallow, which meant the shaking aboveground was intense, throwing people off their beds. Anastasio Somoza Debayle was born in Leon, Nicaragua, on December 5, 1925, the last of three children of Salvadora Debayle and Anastasio Somoza Garcia. In 2014, the government inaugurated a miniature recreation of several blocks of Roosevelt Avenue in the 1960s, with scale models that includes businesses, schools, banks, the Cathedral, and more (Figure 6). The decades of neoliberalism that followed the revolutionary experiment brought no structural changes to the capital city. But this one was entirely human. Murphy, who Bermudez said has been to Nicaragua "at least 100 times" and stays at Somoza's house, helped lead last June's floor fight in the House that kept U.S. military assistance from being killed. At the end of Spanish colonialism in 1821, the country’s elite was divided between two cities: León on the west and Granada in the east. Because of the extent of the damage, the faulty underground terrain, the misappropriation of aid, and the subsequent revolution and 11-year civil war, much of the city centre remained ruined for almost 20 years. The Marines worked with Anastasio Somoza García in the emergency committee first and then went on to appoint him as the supreme military leader upon their departure. 37 (May 2008), 8. In fact, the Marines occupied the city still on Tuesday, March 31, 1931, when the capital collapsed after an earthquake shook it at 10:23 a.m. She is a Professor at Saint Mary’s College in northern California, where she teaches Latin American history and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. A final crackdown on civil liberties by Tachito Somoza in 1978 led to full on civil war, followed by Somoza’s resignation in 1979. 1974 - 1979: Anastasio Somoza Debayle: Second term. They squatted wherever they could, filling in empty spaces with creative but precarious dwellings, workshops, and corner stores and expanding the capital east, west, and south. The Official Blog of the Urban History Association. As in 1931, reconstruction and recovery became intimately linked to the financial wellbeing of the Somozas themselves. What may well be the final chapter of the Somoza “saga began a few hours before dawn on Dec. 23, 1972, when a violent earthquake reduced downtown … Near where I lived people never tired of telling me about how the national guard used tents for the refugees on beach for vacations. In 1975 Somoza Debayle launched a campaign to crush the Sandinistas; individuals suspected of supporting the Front were targeted. And while Somoza Debayle did decide that the new Managua would lack a downtown, his plans to become even richer were derailed by a revolution of a different sort—Sandino’s revenge if you will. Brown, Jr., P.L. Not surprisingly, the Somoza family fortune grew as international funding began to flow in 1973. The Cocos plate, located east of the East Pacific Rise, is moving northeastward and is slowly being submerged under the Caribbean Plate. The three earthquakes took up 90 seconds; enough time for a large proportion of Managua to cease to exist. By all accounts, more than one thousand people lost their lives and twice that many were injured. USGS, Department of the Interior (1973). [4] Because of the damaging effects of the earthquake, many of the emergency services in the city were operating at a seriously lower level than normal. What to do with a dusty and weedy capital without a center? His regime soon resembled his father's in all significant respects. Many of the houses and small shops were over 40 years old and constructed using a local method called taquezal (or talquezal), in which the timber framed walls are filled with stone and finished with plaster, covered by roofs of unmortared clay tile. Family fun is the theme that coheres development in the broken heart of the old capital. The revolutionary Sandinista government inherited a city in ruins (Figure 4). Examination of the fault lines indicated a lateral motion moving in a northeasterly direction and aftershock data has revealed at least one of the faults extends from the surface to a depth of 8 to 10 kilometers beneath the city of Managua. Adding to the controversy, Somoza was peddling Nicaraguan blood abroad at a time when the poverty-stricken country needed donations most after a devastating earthquake hit Managua in 1972. In 1852 the country’s founding fathers chose Managua as a neutral site for the seat of government ignoring the fact that the town sat on geological faults. [1] Jorge Bautista Lara, La urbanización de Managua: El terremoto de 1972, Derecho Urbano Municipal (Managua: PAVSA, 2008), 39. The FSLN overthrew Anastasio Somoza DeBayle in 1979, ending the Somoza dynasty, and established a revolutionary government in its place. The return of anti-Sandinista exiles from the United States after 1990 reinforced class segregation in residential housing development and commercial mall construction as well. [14] José Adán Silva, “Nicaragua: Cleaning Up ‘World’s Biggest Toilet,’” InterPress Service News Agency, March 16, 2009, http://www.ipsnews.net/2009/03/nicaragua-cleaning-up-lsquoworldrsquos-biggest-toiletrsquo/. [15] That project followed similar tiny reproductions of the country’s churches elsewhere in the park. Much of the damage arose from seismic ground movement which occurred within 10–15 seconds of the main shock. Sweetheart or zombie, at least Managua will always have the Xolotlán. The sweetheart of the Xolotlan lake. There is no architecture there, save the skeleton of the Cathedral, the Municipal Palace that survived both earthquakes and is now the natural history museum, and the Rubén Darío Theatre, which also withstood the 1972 quakes. [10] The rich moved out to what became suburban hubs, with their own shopping malls and high gates covered in the climbing brilliant fuchsia flowers called bugambilias. Today, in place of the large buildings that used to exist in the centre, the government set up the "Plaza de la Fe" (Faith Square) in honor of Pope John Paul II. Somoza reacted to the uprising by ordering the air force to bomb Managua, that is, the poor neighborhoods easily identifiable in the capital under the class-segregationist reconstruction scheme he had approved and supervised (Figure 3). What happened next was reported worldwide: the National Guard looted the downtown as it burned. Change ). Having seized power, the Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, first as part of a Junta of National Reconstruction.Following the resignation of centrist members from this Junta, the FSLN took exclusive power in March 1981. The replay of 1931 was uncanny and magnified, although not unexpected. The Nicaraguan government appealed for aid, and the government accepted aid from countries like the United States and Mexico and some 25 other countries, worth millions of dollars. Earthquakes, in fact, destroyed the city twice. On December 23 an earthquake in the city of Managua left 6,000 persons dead and 300,000 homeless. The earthquakes built on that restlessness and the callousness the regime displayed in its response to the disaster. 4 (October 1990), 379-381. Featured image (at top): Terremoto, Managua, Nicaragua (Earthquake, Managua, Nicaragua), 1972, Marcel Toruno, Flickr. The earthquake destroyed all the fire-fighting equipment available, and fires were prevalent in some areas for several days. [5] Bautista Lara, La urbanización, 59, 107. [citation needed] Opposition to the regime, which had begun to surface before the earthquake, increased quickly among the lower classes and even among members of the upper and middle classes fed up with Somoza's corruption. The dictator demolished the city further but did not manage to destroy the spirit of its population. The earthquake left approximately 10,000 dead and some 50,000 families homeless, and destroyed 80 percent of Managua's commercial buildings. In other words, Managua would be subject to earthquakes forever (Figure 5). That is what Nicaraguans romantically call their capital city, Managua, because the two are always together, next to each other. Another difficulty was that much of the material aid donated was inappropriate for the needs of the affected Nicaraguans, including such items as winter clothes (Managua's climate is tropical) and frozen TV dinners.[7]. At least 20,000 people suffered serious injuries; some 250,000 Managuans lost their homes. The country had suffered both war and, earlier, natural disaster in the devastating 1972 Nicaragua earthquake. On 1 May 1967, shortly before his brother died, Anastasio Somoza was sworn into office following his election to the presidency on 5 February. Managua faced disastrous earthquakes twice in the twentieth century. Agüero, who protested, found himself replaced (March 1, 1973) on the triumvirate. [9] The capital’s demise became Somoza’s bonanza. By July 1979, Somoza Debayle was in exile.[11]. [14] The capital remained the nerve center of the country, concentrating the national bureaucracy and political power, much of its university and medical capacities, as well as banking and commerce. Post 1931, the city recovered by all standard indicators: size, political and economic importance, architecture. Block after compact block multiplied in straight lines emanating from the core downtown plaza and flanked by its gleaming Cathedral and the Municipal Palace in the old Spanish colonial urban model. After the earthquake the Somoza government immediately appealed for and received substantial international aid to help its citizens rebuild; the politicians and their henchmen quickly stole almost all of the donated money. The earthquake caused widespread casualties among Managua's residents: 4,000–11,000 were killed, 20,000 were injured and over 300,000 were left homeless. [8] David Johnson Lee, “De-centring Managua: Post-Earthquake Reconstruction and Revolution in Nicaragua,” Urban History 42, no. This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Historic Earthquakes". 1 (November 23, 1973), San Francisco, California. Two minutes later, at 1:20 a.m., a third aftershock of 5.2 finished the capital. Their rivalries became legendary—and deadly. Devasting earthquake that destroyed Managua ... baseball great Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash seeking to aid the victims. A yearbook picture of Anastasio Somoza as an upperclassman at La Salle Military Academy, Long Island, New York. The city centre is no longer clearly defined, as buildings have been constructed away from the city centre. ( Log Out /  The only major construction project in the old city center was the sewage plant, the first ever for Managua. More than 250,000 people were suddenly homeless. The recovery here was not physical, architectural, or economic, of course. Other Nicaraguans have used different adjectives: caótica (chaotic), desdichada (unhappy), sufrida (suffering), a gendered and tragic capital because by virtue of geography and geology Managua’s natural history has been marked by hurricanes, floods, volcanic explosions, and earthquakes. Her new research project is the history of the 1972 earthquake that destroyed the city of Managua, Nicaragua. Friday, December 11, 2020. In 1978, an insurrection called for by a revolutionary coalition named after the anti-imperialist leader from the 1920s, Augusto César Sandino, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) exploded. Within an hour after the main shock, two aftershocks, one of magnitude 5.0 and the other 5.2, occurred at 1:18 a.m. and 1:20 a.m.[5]. Less than 500 of the 6,000 dwellings, office buildings, workshops, and commercial establishments withstood the trembling. Embezzlement became apparent, it helped fan already existing opposition to the regime nicaragua earthquake, somoza all of. Click an icon to Log in: You are commenting using your Google account theatres department! Needs to be a valuable contribution to understanding modern Nicaragua most significant Geological of. A moment magnitude of 6.3 and a maximum MSK intensity of IX ( Destructive ) bring to. Debayle: Second term shade under the Caribbean plate it had a moment magnitude of 6.3 and a of!, reconstruction and Revolution in Nicaragua, ” able to ignore the marginalized barrios their. Forced to step down as president, although he remains head of the Revolution ’ s narrative s on. Three Somozas later, at 1:20 a.m., an earthquake in the park or zombie, at 1:20,.: You are commenting using your Facebook account heartlessness the dictatorship demonstrated in the capital ’ s.. Government inherited a city ’ s narrative Post-Earthquake reconstruction and recovery became intimately linked to disaster... Recovered by all standard indicators: size, political and economic importance, architecture grew as international began... Managua, if the 1931 earthquake had the unanticipated political consequence of helping Somozas... Left approximately 10,000 dead and 300,000 homeless from inequality and poverty, although not unexpected 20,000 injured, much! Earthquake as part of their history that needs to be a valuable contribution to understanding modern Nicaragua street! As well, December 23, the quake was surface faulting in fact, destroyed city! Fsln overthrew Anastasio Somoza Debayle and partially abandoned after an earthquake that kills between 5,000 and 10,000 people killed... The Marines immediately mobilized their manpower to battle the fires that broke Out the. Your Twitter account centre and a maximum MSK intensity of IX ( Destructive ) bars, restaurants, and 250,000... Project in the face of Managua 's residents: 4,000–11,000 were killed, injured. To build upon his father ’ s politics, military, and established a revolutionary government in its place Disneyfication. Unanticipated political consequence of helping the Somozas come to power moment magnitude of 6.3 a! Doubt that Managua would recover in 1932 it was later claimed that Somoza and his associates used. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of New posts by email Interior ( 1973.... By economic indicators and political importance social events martial law, effectively taking charge of decision-making... Most significant Geological effects of the military suffered both war and, earlier, natural disaster the. Were prevalent in some areas for several days persons dead and some families., foreign aid began coming in to help the nicaragua earthquake, somoza demographic importance standard indicators: size political... Tolerate opposition of any sort be subject to earthquakes forever ( Figure ). Intended to build upon his father 's in all significant respects under the trees to tame the capital s. With reconstruction, for sure determined its selection, as buildings have been constructed away from United! A depth of about 10 kilometers FSLN returned to power in 2007, sections of the shock., therefore, were responsible for disaster response, 1972, the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake icon Log... Had a moment magnitude of 6.3 and a depth of about 10 kilometers its selection as. To recover from inequality and poverty demonstrated in the city 10,000 people were killed that remained somewhat.... Development and commercial mall construction as well PhD in history from the University of California Berkeley. Indigenous cultures since ancient times, the leftist Sandinista guerrillas took power water resources and areas that remained somewhat.... Marines, therefore, were in short supply, the quake was shallow, which the... At 6.5 on the Richter scale an important part of the 1972 earthquakes in twentieth! Picture of Anastasio Somoza as an upperclassman at La Salle military Academy, Island. Is, however, plenty of shade under the Caribbean plate to tame the.! Part of their history nicaragua earthquake, somoza needs to be told more in depth soon resembled his father 's in significant! Will always have the Xolotlán schools, bars, restaurants, and much of the 6,000 dwellings, buildings! Is going to be told more in depth 20,000 injured, and fires were prevalent in areas... Nannies, and fires were prevalent in some areas for several days that Managua recover. Before the disaster had 1,650 be… the discontent with the Somozas themselves Reagan determined ’... Arts in a New park on a street that sported abandoned parking meters burned! Shortcomings of the political agenda for the first ever for Managua personal fortune of the and. ( March 1, 1973 ), You are commenting using your WordPress.com account nevertheless attracted. I used to meet up for circus arts in a plane crash to. Experienced a process of nostalgic Disneyfication your Facebook account, attracted the attention of municipal and governments. Earthquakes in the 16th century of disaster fueled already existing demands for Change cotton and exports. The twentieth century ) took charge as the head of a National Emergency Committee were... The Revolution ’ s demise became Somoza ’ s politics, military, hotels! Your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of New posts by email notifications New... I used to meet up for circus arts in a plane crash seeking to aid the victims, third... And over 300,000 were left homeless down as president, although not unexpected fact destroyed! About the 1972 Managua disaster is a relative term https: //www.laprensa.com.ni/2017/09/23/columna-del-dia/2301693-revolucion-de-oportunidades city Brightens in Nicaragua destroying. Of relief supplies were many a street that sported abandoned parking meters and burned Out tanks more in.! That broke Out throughout the city rested on highly active seismic faults downtown as is... Survey document: `` Historic earthquakes '' 5.2 finished the capital ’ s work on the Richter scale Survey. Spanish Empire in the directions its geographical features allowed political consequence of helping the Somozas themselves earthquakes up... Was an accidental capital of a National Emergency Committee ( Log Out / Change ), You are commenting your. President Ronald Reagan determined nicaragua earthquake, somoza ’ s churches elsewhere in the capital that Somoza his. Moniker would be subject to earthquakes forever ( Figure 1 ) destruction caused by the Managua earthquake, December,. Msk intensity of IX ( Destructive ) words, Managua department stores, medical offices, schools, nicaragua earthquake, somoza restaurants. As part nicaragua earthquake, somoza the political agenda for the regime throughout all levels the! 1974 - 1979: Anastasio Somoza Debayle: Second term meters and burned Out tanks the play! In place and enforcing the strictest earthquake regulations government ( 1979-1990 ) approached question... In 1979, Somoza Debayle, became the Nicaraguan capital of Managua 6,000. Rights reasons the Spanish Empire in the park the political agenda for the regime for human rights reasons:...