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.. An estimated 53,000 homes in the city were damaged. In 1979, approximately 600,000 Nicaraguans were homeless and 150,000 were either refugees or in exile, out of a total population of just 2.8 million. It was political: a political renewal that swept away the old regime once and for all. To explain, in 1972, Nicaragua was hit with a devastating earthquake.  It was because of these reports that the Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente chose to personally accompany the fourth of a number of relief flights he had organized. Roberto lost many friends in the quake. 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. 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. Cotton and other exports fueled the growth of the capital through the 1950s and 1960s. Sometimes the landmarks are no longer extant. The three earthquakes took up 90 seconds; enough time for a large proportion of Managua to cease to exist. The city centre is no longer clearly defined, as buildings have been constructed away from the city centre. The Marines, therefore, were responsible for disaster response. And yet, nature would not be denied as a historical actor. Friday, December 11, 2020. [Photo by Myrna Santiago, 2015]Geological Faults of Managua, INETER, May 2020. After 1972, the third Somoza in power, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, intended to build upon his father’s example. All four main hospitals, which before the disaster had 1,650 beds, were unserviceable. There is, however, plenty of shade under the trees to tame the capital’s stifling heat and watch the children play. Somoza … 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. When the Marines left the country two years later in 1933, they left Somoza García at the head of the National Guard, the repressive apparatus the Marines had founded. 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. He declared martial law, effectively taking charge of all decision-making in the capital. , Managua was a small city in 1931. Founded in 1926, in 1932 it was bought by Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Zelaya, who had become editor-in-chief. The only major construction project in the old city center was the sewage plant, the first ever for Managua. Somoza is forced to step down as president, although he remains head of the military. I used to meet up for circus arts in a new park on a street that sported abandoned parking meters and burned out tanks. 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.  But rather than a simple crustal movement between the two plates the earthquake was believed to have been caused by a shallow adjustment to geological pressure at the south western corner of the Caribbean plate. The government, thus, came up with projects to turn the downtown area into green parks and open spaces while it drew up “ambitious plans” to address the housing shortage, improve low income neighborhoods, regulate urban land use, systematize property titles, and more. As a reasonable person can imagine, the citizens of Nicaragua … Nicaragua received a lot of foreign aid after the earthquake, but president Somoza and his cronies took a lot of it for their own use. The Somoza family (Spanish: Familia Somoza) ... By the 1970s, the family owned 23 percent of the land in Nicaragua.  That project followed similar tiny reproductions of the country’s churches elsewhere in the park. The discontent with the Somozas did not start with the earthquakes. The revolutionary Sandinista government inherited a city in ruins (Figure 4). It was shallow, which amplified its force to topple unreinforced buildings and homes made of mud and reeds. Sweetheart or zombie, at least Managua will always have the Xolotlán. While Luis had ruled more gently than their father, Anastasio would not tolerate opposition of any sort. The zone of dipping is initiated at the surface of the Middle America Trench, which extends 4 to 5 kilometers deep along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Costa Rica. MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) ... which was badly damaged and partially abandoned after an earthquake in December 1972. At least 20,000 people suffered serious injuries; some 250,000 Managuans lost their homes. As anyone who has visited Managua knows, there is no there there because although the capital is the largest city in the country—hosting about one million of the country’s six million inhabitants—the city lacks a center. • 1972: Earthquakes strike Nicaragua, ... President Anastasio Somoza, son of Anastasio Somoza Garcia, flees to Miami, blaming Carter administration for his downfall. The reconstruction of the city became “collateral damage” of Cold War high politics, condemning Managua, in the judgment of The New York Times, to be “still among the ugliest capital cities in the hemisphere.” It all goes to show that the recovery and reconstruction process after an earthquake can be as unpredictable as the movements of the Earth itself. Carving an economic space between the Liberals and Conservatives of old, Somoza García took advantage of the collapse of the capital city to profit personally from its reconstruction.  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. 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. But this one was entirely human. Unwittingly, president Ronald Reagan determined Managua’s urban history. Three Somozas later, Nicaraguans were fed up with the family the United States had imposed on them four decades earlier. La novia del Xolotlán. ( Log Out / A scene of the terrible destruction caused by the Managua earthquake, December 23, 1972. Defense spending quickly absorbed more and more of the state’s budget until, in fact, the Nicaraguan people tired of war and voted out the revolutionaries in 1990. Following the assassination of the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1956, his son, Luis Somoza, ruled with the title of president, and in 1967 Luis was succeeded by his younger brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Less than 500 of the 6,000 dwellings, office buildings, workshops, and commercial establishments withstood the trembling. Getting at the root of the political responses to natural disasters, how to recover from inequality and poverty? Agüero, who protested, found himself replaced (March 1, 1973) on the triumvirate. Managua demonstrates, then, that recovery after disaster is a relative term. There was nature to take into consideration. Banks, movie theatres, department stores, medical offices, schools, bars, restaurants, and hotels crammed the city. Visitors make much of the peculiar way in which Nicaraguans give directions. The earthquake destroyed all the fire-fighting equipment available, and fires were prevalent in some areas for several days. Managua’s geographical location determined its selection, as it is midway between the two adversaries. Earthquake Information Bulletin, September–October 1973, Volume 5, Number 5., Retrieved on June 2, 2008, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "1972: Earthquake wreaks devastation in Nicaragua", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1972_Nicaragua_earthquake&oldid=987156613, Articles needing additional references from December 2010, All articles needing additional references, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2017, Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the United States Geological Survey, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 5 November 2020, at 07:55. Change ). A yearbook picture of Anastasio Somoza as an upperclassman at La Salle Military Academy, Long Island, New York. 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Devasting earthquake that destroyed Managua ... baseball great Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash seeking to aid the victims. This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Historic Earthquakes". Migrants from the countryside kept the capital growing in the directions its geographical features allowed. In December of 1982 I spent the 10th anniversary of that quake with people from Managua who had made a new life on the Atlantic Coast. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Featured image (at top): Terremoto, Managua, Nicaragua (Earthquake, Managua, Nicaragua), 1972, Marcel Toruno, Flickr. The decades of neoliberalism that followed the revolutionary experiment brought no structural changes to the capital city. Originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures since ancient times, the region was conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. Nicaragua On December 23, 1972, a massive earthquake devastated the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. The death toll rose to 10,000 people as 5 of the city’s 12.7 square miles collapsed in a heap of dust and cement. 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. It had maybe 40,000 inhabitants and covered less than one square mile; eleven blocks from north to south and ten blocks from east to west.  Stephen Kinzer, “A Faded City Brightens in Nicaragua,” New York Times, February 17, 2002. Nicaragua is a photojournalist's essay composed of 71 carefully chosen color photgraphs shot during the revolution. This time, however, Somoza Debayle heeded those experts who cautioned against reconstruction without putting in place and enforcing the strictest earthquake regulations. 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.  Martyn J. Bowden, “Reconstrucción subsiguiente al desastre: Estructura comercial e industrial de Managua,” in “Perspectivas geográficas y sociológicas sobre la reconstrucción de Managua, Nicaragua, subsiguiente al terremoto del 23 de diciembre de 1972,” Informe de J. Eugene Hass, Martyn J. Bowden, Daniel J. Amaral, Patricia Bolton Trainer, Reyes Ramos (Abril de 1975), 2-14. 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. … On his death in 1967, his brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, became the next dictator of Nicaragua. The press quoted him as saying that the devastation of Managua represented a “revolution of opportunities,” which he exploited immediately by engaging in shady land deals and setting up his own construction companies.. 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. — Currently as the head of Nicaragua's Guardia Nacional (National Guard), Anastasio Somoza issued a message of distress to the world, and an outpouring of international response occurred as a result. International aid flooded into the country. Sandino and his “small and crazy army”, as the Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral c… Both times authoritarians ruled the city and both times Managua recovered its economic, political, and demographic importance. The majority of the buildings in the central business district sustained significant structural damage including a 19-story building, one 15-story building, approximately 5 buildings that were 7 to 9 stories tall and more than 25 buildings that were from 3 to 6 stories tall. 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.  George Black, “The 1972 Earthquake and after: Somocismo in Crisis,” in Nicaragua: Unfinished Revolution: The New Nicaragua Reader, Peter Rosset and John Vandermeer, eds. Nicaragua gained independence from Spa The downtown lingered, scraped clean of debris save the shells of high rises that stood like zombie buildings, dead yet inhabited by a growing underclass. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. This article touches on an important part of their history that needs to be told more in depth. It was later claimed that Somoza and his associates had used foreign aid for their own gain. With Somoza García firmly in charge of the political landscape, Managua recovered. 4 (October 1990), 379-381. The corruption and heartlessness the dictatorship demonstrated in the face of disaster fueled already existing demands for change.  Bautista Lara, La urbanización, 47-48; Roberto Sánchez Ramírez, El recuerdo de Managua en la memoria de un poblano (Managua: Alcaldía de Managua, 2008), 37, 61, 69, 71, 157. Throughout the twentieth century, the capital endured and survived man-made calamities, including foreign occupation, insurrection, revolution, and counter-revolution, all of which influenced the aftermath of the earthquakes and the physiognomy of the city. On December 23 an earthquake in the city of Managua left 6,000 persons dead and 300,000 homeless. The old downtown, nevertheless, attracted the attention of municipal and national governments.  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 most enthusiastic boosters remembered Managua then “as the Switzerland of Central America, due to its beauty, ornamentation, and cleanliness.” If that energetic example of peripheral capitalism was not the picture of recovery after disaster, nothing is. The epicenter was 28 kilometers northeast of the city centre and a depth of about 10 kilometers. Abstract: The reconstruction of Managua following the 1972 earthquake laid bare the contradictions of modernization theory that justified the US alliance with Latin American dictators in the name of democracy in the Cold War. 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. Not surprisingly, the Somoza family fortune grew as international funding began to flow in 1973. 7,000 people died and thousands of others were injured. Most of its streets were unpaved (Figure 1). Sandino was replaced by his son Luis Somoza Debayle. Two hours later, at 12:29 a.m. on December 23, the earth convulsed at 6.5 on the Richter scale. Utilizing the method of demolishing buildings and setting fires in advance of the uncontrolled flames, which had been first tested in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Marines contributed to the destruction of the city in ways that Managuans would never forget or forgive.  Bautista Lara, La urbanización, 59, 107. Despite this and the magnitude of the devastation, the aid was not distributed well and the ruling Liberal-Conservative Junta, led by President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, was the target of criticism and was accused of stockpiling foreign aid which never reached the victims of the earthquake. Most of those ideas, however, fell by the wayside as the U.S. government imposed an embargo on the second generation of Sandinistas and, instead of sending the Marines, raised a counterrevolutionary army to destroy them. The downtown, about 600 city blocks, was obliterated. Somoza controlled Nicaragua’s politics, military, and much of its economy. On the contrary, the escalation of the conflict resulted in direct United States intervention (on the Conservatives’ side) and the landing of the Marines in 1912. 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. By the 1970s, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the FSLN exploded onto Nicaragua’s political scene as a fully-armed rebel group with the backing of a huge number of poor Nicaraguans. ( Log Out / The US military, once more, came to Somoza’s rescue, sending troops to occupy the destroyed city, support the firefighting, and “incinerating corpses with flamethrowers.” When the fires were suffocated, Somoza surrounded the rubble in barbed wire for demolition and clean-up work.  Urban planning was high on the political agenda for the first time in the country’s history. The only question was how. Alternative Title: Tachito Somoza Anastasio Somoza Debayle, byname Tachito Somoza, (born Dec. 5, 1925, León, Nicaragua—died Sept. 17, 1980, Asunción, Paraguay), third member of the Somoza dynasty to be president of Nicaragua (1967–79), … They do not use street names and numbers, but rather utilize landmarks and cardinal points. Following his brother Luis Somoza’s direct and indirect rule of the country from 1956 to 1966, Somoza re-established a military dictatorship in the mold of his father Anastasio Somoza García’s two-decades of … The replay of 1931 was uncanny and magnified, although not unexpected. The dictator demolished the city further but did not manage to destroy the spirit of its population. 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 … 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). 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.. With the personal fortune of the strongman at stake, there was no doubt that Managua would recover. ( Log Out / Papa Somoza García was killed in 1956 at the celebration of his re-election by Rigoberto López Pérez, a young man fed up with dictatorship masquerading as electoral democracy. The discontent with the Somozas did not start with the earthquakes. USGS, Department of the Interior (1973). Two minutes later, at 1:20 a.m., a third aftershock of 5.2 finished the capital. 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. 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.  Simultaneously, the dictator set up land transfer schemes and created new construction companies in anticipation of the business opportunities that reconstruction signified. Media related to 1972 Nicaragua earthquake at Wikimedia Commons. [Source: https://web-geofisica.ineter.gob.ni//sis/f-mana.html]. In 1972, an earthquake rocked Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, and Somoza exercised “emergency powers” to deal with the earthquake while he and his colleagues stole a majority of international aid sent to Nicaragua in the earthquake’s wake. The first time was 1931; the second, 1972.  See for example, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Managua, Nicaragua Earthquake of December 23, 1972 Conference Proceedings, Vol. There were also associated social problems that a revolutionary government could not ignore. His regime soon resembled his father's in all significant respects. The losses were devastating. 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. 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. 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. The elites thus became “modern,” able to ignore the marginalized barrios whence their maids, nannies, and chauffeurs came from. 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.  D. Brown and L. Bornstein, “Whither Managua? The recovery here was not physical, architectural, or economic, of course. All four main hospitals, which before the disaster had 1,650 be… Somoza’s grip on power started crumbling after Nicaragua suffered a cataclysmic earthquake in 1972. Peasants, displaced from rural areas by the concentration of landholding and the classic closing of the commons necessary for export agriculture, poured into the city. Learn how your comment data is processed. During the massive evacuations, the displaced residents set up camp around water resources and areas that remained somewhat unaffected.  Hundreds of smaller aftershocks shook the detritus of the capital in the weeks and months to come, while the fires that erupted in the aftermath of the three earthquakes razed everything in their path. 1972 was not 1931. On 1 May 1967, shortly before his brother died, Anastasio Somoza was sworn into office following his election to the presidency on 5 February.  The water and electrical power networks were severely damaged and more than a week after the earthquake only 10% of the city had any working water service.  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. Her research has been on the oil industry in Mexico, focused on the social and environmental consequences of extraction. More than 250,000 people were suddenly homeless.  Black, “The 1972 Earthquake,” 191-191. One of the most significant geological effects of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake quake was surface faulting. 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. A final crackdown on civil liberties by Tachito Somoza in 1978 led to full on civil war, followed by Somoza’s resignation in 1979. The family moved to Managua, where his father rose rapidly in politics, becoming commander of Nicaragua's only armed force, the National Guard, in … A better moniker would be la ciudad zombie; the undead city. Detail of mural about the 1972 earthquakes in the Palacio Nacional, painted by Felipe Castellanos Centurion. The close alliance with the United States that Somoza García pursued with singular zeal began to pay off for Managua as the post war boom reached Nicaragua. That flight crashed on December 31, 1972, killing Clemente among others. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. On December 22, 1972, as the city glowed in the bright colors of Christmas lights, a tremor occurred around 10 p.m., a pre-shock that Managuans could not know presaged a calamity. They collapsed during the 1972 earthquakes, but people will still say, “de dónde fué,” “where such-and-such used to be…” City landmarks are dead yet they are alive, just as one would expect in a zombie city. 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