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US Involvement in Nicaragua

Some might say that Nicaragua has been a pawn in the US battle against Soviet-Cuban Communist control in Latin America. Relationships between the US and Nicaragua go back to the Gold Rush and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s attempts to expedite the travel between the two coasts of the US. Vanderbilt bought the rights to shuttle fortune-seekers across Nicaragua to avoid their having to cross the width of the United States or travel around Cape Horn. Eventually, controversy among the Nicaraguan people led to a civil war in 1853. The US was further drawn into the conflict when the left-wing army hired an American, William Walker, to fight for them. Walker and his mercenaries quickly conquered Grenada, the stronghold of the Conservative parties and found themselves in charge of the army. Walker, however, had his eyes on the presidency, which he eventually took.
Walker was not the end of US intervention in Nicaragua. The government had aligning aspirations with Cornelius Vanderbilt and decided to build their canal through Nicaragua, which was less disease ravaged than the other contender, Panama. However, due to previous treaty agreements, the US would have to share control of any canal built through Nicaragua with Great Britain, and so the plan was abandoned. Instead, the US built an exclusively controlled canal through Panama.
From 1893 – 1909, a general by the name of Zelaya had exclusive control of the Nicaraguan government. However, in 1909, with US support, this government was overthrown and a pro-US government was established. Throughout the early 1900’s, US Marines helped quell minor rebellions throughout Nicaragua and occupy much of the country. Finally, in 1933, the marines leave under the premise of peace with the guerrilla leader Gen. Sandino. A man named Anastasio Somoza is put in charge of the National Guard and therefore controls the country with an iron fist. Until 1979, the Somoza family serves as the totalitarian government i…

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