Subversive Historian 12/23/08

Somoza’s Earthquake

Thirty-six years ago on this day in people’s history, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. On December 23rd, 1972, the Central American city violently shook forcing the displacement of two-thirds of its residents and the deaths of between 3,000 and 7,000 people. Having taken place under the U.S. supported dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, the 1972 Managua earthquake reverberated far beyond its immediate geographical consequences. The Somoza regime immediately appealed for aid from international relief agencies and governments only to embezzle it. The National Guard was also given a free pass to loot the urban ruins in the quake’s aftermath. The leftist Sandinista Liberation Front which had been largely consigned to the rural countryside was able to make gains in the cities after disaffection grew with the regime’s corrupt handling of the earthquake.

There were many immediate aftershocks that rocked the capital following the 1972 tremors, but none were as seismic as the political shakeup that ousted Somoza nearly five years later and brought the Sandinistas to power.

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