75. Report Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1

Report No. 1003



For more than 40 years, the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, built firmly on the National Guard, the Liberal Party, economic domination, and public perception of US support, seemed virtually indestructible. During the past year, however, public pressures from the Catholic Church and the US on human rights issues, Somoza’s heart attack, and the assassination of a leading opposition figure have brought unprecedented unity among the private sector, the political opposition, and other groups in calling for Somoza’s ouster. In one form or another (guerrilla attacks, arson, demonstrations, and a national work stoppage), violence and disorders have continued almost daily since January. Somoza’s National Guard, however, has been equal to the challenge and remains loyal.

In the current situation, the opposition cannot force Somoza out of power. Neither can Somoza completely silence the opposition; he can only contain it. As a result, Nicaragua’s “slow motion revolution” seems likely to simmer along in coming months as it has in the past.

While US interests in Nicaragua are less than vital, in the larger context of regional stability there is room for concern that continued conflict over a period of time could embroil Nicaragua’s neighbors and invite the involvement of other states in the area.

The Somoza dynasty, built firmly on the pillars of a loyal National Guard, an extensive Liberal Party machine, domination of the economic sector, and public perception of US support, seemed virtually indestructible for four decades. With little resistance from a weak and factionalized opposition party, the Somozas easily used their sources of support to co-opt, corrupt, or—if necessary—intimidate most dissenters. One exception, the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN), grew out of a number of scattered revolutionary groups that existed in Nicaragua in the late 1950s. The common intention of these groups was the overthrow of the Somoza government. Since the early 1960s, the FSLN, though never a serious threat to the government, has been a symbol of [Page 213] resistance to the Somoza regime, particularly among young, educated Nicaraguans.

[Omitted here is the body of the report.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Intelligence Research Reports, Lot 6D379, Reports No. 997–1005, 1978. Secret; Noforn; Nocontract; Orcon. Prepared by Morris; approved by Estep.