Revolution in Nicarargua

A force of about 500 Marines landed on Nicaragua early in the 1920s to protect American economic interests in the region. Backed by the armed forces of the U.S., a government supportive of American interests, led by Anastasio Somoza, took over. The Marines faced off against a rising guerrilla force and left in 1933 because of the Great Depression. But Samoza’s government stayed in power, brutally dispatching any perceived opponents. The nationalist guerrilla groups made the overthrow of that regime their priority.

On this day, August 22, in 1978, the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion (Sandinista National Liberation Front), a faction of the FSLN founded by three members of the guerrilla forces, took over the National Palace and held almost 2,000 government officials and members of Congress hostage for two days.

For the Samoza government, it was a big black eye. The hostage-takers got $500,000 ransom, their revolutionary message read over television, and safe passage out of the country. Although Samoza continued to wage war against the FSLN and repress dissent among civilians, he was fighting a losing battle. Less than a year later, the FSLN entered the capital and established a new ruling party.