247. Airgram A–92 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State1


  • A Long Look Ahead—Expected Political Developments in Nicaragua 1974–1981—A Personal View


This paper represents the author’s personal view on probable developments in Nicaraguan political life over the next seven years. 1974 [Page 669] finds General Anastasio Somoza in an extremely powerful position with a weak and disorganized opposition. Potentially important factors in developing a revitalized opposition are the Church, the private sector, organized labor and students, all of which have since the 1972 earthquake shown some signs of developing new, expanded roles in the political system. Of these, however, I expect only organized labor to increase significantly its influence as an opposition force. The Church will become less vocal in politics, the private sector will remain largely apolitical, and students will be restrained by a moderate university administration. Failing to draw strength from these sectors, the opposition could be relegated to a long-term peripheral role especially if Somoza moves to formalize a de facto one-party system such as exists in Mexico. I am inclined to believe he will follow this course. In building his own PRI, Somoza, who starts with a Liberal Party which is his own personal political vehicle, will during his coming administration somewhat decentralize party control and allow leaders to emerge from whom he can choose a successor. Meanwhile, I expect the Conservative Party to persist as a distinct minority party which may even be able to mount a passable campaign in 1981, but cannot in the foreseeable future aspire to win a national election. Nicaragua’s third party, the Social Christians, will disintegrate even further, and the present tenuous, group of “27” alliance of minor political factions will shortly fall apart. The army will not be an independent political force while Somoza commands it, but by 1981 young officers lacking strong personal ties to Somoza will have extended military influence in the government. In sum, political changes in Nicaragua will come gradually over the next seven years with the trend toward an eventual lessening [of] the Somoza family’s overt domination of the country.

[Omitted here is the body of the airgram.]

  1. Summary: Deputy Chief of Mission Warner analyzed likely political developments in Nicaragua over the seven years that Somoza was expected to be in office. Warner predicted opposition forces would remain largely ineffective but the Somoza family’s overt domination of the country would gradually decline as the regime moved to formalize a one-party system.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P740112–1173. Confidential. Drafted by Warner and approved by Shelton. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors and “[of]”, added for clarity.