Clowns Without Borders USA sent a troupe to Nicaragua from April 4 to 15, 2016. We worked in partnership with local non-profit Fundacco – a grassroots organization that organizes to promote hope through community development and the organization of populations for a more humane future for all. During this two week trip, our clowns spent part of their time in Managua, performing shows and running a four-day workshop with pre-k teachers interested in learning how to better connect with their students through play. Each teacher manages a class of 40 preschool students who have difficulty expressing their emotions, therefore, connecting and managing emotions was a big focus of the workshop with the teachers.
The clown troupe also spent part of their time travelling the border region on a performance tour. Joining Fundacco in Nicaragua are performers Geoffrey Marsh, Molly Shannon, Erin Leigh Crites, and Aline Moreno. We are honored by their service on this project!
Keep reading for an in-depth look at the history of Nicaragua, written by CWB team lead Aline Moreno, from Brazil. Below you will find it in translated into English. Click here for her original Spanish.
History of Nicaragua (move this to country page)
With a surface of 129.490 km2 and an estimated 6 million people, the Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Managua since 1852 has been a capital city with about 2 million people living in the metropolitan area, followed by Leon, Masaya and Tipitapa, all with more than 120,000 population. Nicaragua has borders with Costa Rica in the south and Honduras to the north, the Pacific coast in the west and the Atlantic coast to the east. The country is divided into 15 administrative districts and two north and south on the Atlantic coast autonomous regions. Lake Nicaragua (Nicaragua) and Lake Managua (Xolotlán), the country has two large lakes of which Lake Nicaragua is the second largest in Latin America. In the Pacific region is a chain of 19 volcanoes that runs through it from north to south, of which 4 still had eruptions in the last 15 years. One of them is the Concepción volcano on Ometepe Island. A few kilometers offshore from the Pacific coast, the Caribbean plate meets the plate Coco and both movements can cause earthquakes occasionally throughout Central America. All these geographical features and its location on the map make Nicaragua is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
According to statistics, Nicaragua is, after Haiti, the second most poor of Latin America and the Caribbean. The national currency is the Cordoba Oro, though large transactions are usually handled in US dollars. Nicaragua’s leading exports are coffee, snuff, cocoa and meat. The crop products such as beans, rice, corn, bananas, etc. are more important planted and negotiated within the internal market of the country. Fishing, mining, and timber also take part in the economy and tourism, which progressed rapidly in recent years.
With the exception of a small percentage of the population, Nicaragua has a high poverty rate and suffers from extreme poverty. Even as conditions improve slowly, a large part of the society survives only thanks to remittances from relatives living and working in other countries. The government has begun useful social programs rural areas, invested in infrastructure for transport, education, industry energy and tourism throughout the country, foreign investments are growing and new trade agreements with other countries have been signed in recent years; there is still a long way to see a significant change in the image of Nicaragua economy and welfare for much of Nicaraguans.
The country’s wealth is distributed only to a few.
Of the oldest traces in the paleontological landscape of America, Nicaragua has one of the first places. So indicate more than a dozen archaeological sites petrified bones of prehistoric animals, distributed in North, Central and South of the country. Just two examples include: The bison tracks detected in “El Recreo”, department of Managua; and the fossil site of “The Forest ” – twelve kilometers from Pueblo Nuevo, on the road between that town and San Juan de Limay in 1976. After prolonged scientific excavation, this was the scene of a Symposium paleontologists and archaeologists.
The first stream started off dry tropical forest of the Pacific. Belonging to families language North America (HokanSiux, otomangue and UtoAzteca), it consisted of several Peoples: Maribios or Sutiavas, Mangues or Chorotegas, and Nahua or Nicaraguas (also called Niquiranos). Settled in plains near lakes and volcanoes, these cultures were organized in towns or agricultural villages under theocratic governments led by menexicos (councils güegües or old) or teytes (or caciques). Related entirely to the upper peoples of Mexico, they maintained an active trade or barter trade with neighboring peoples.
Sutiavas, Nicaraguas Chorotegas and therefore were in that zone of the Pacific, on arrival Spanish, were closely related to the Tlapanecas of Oaxaca, and native of for the State of Guerrero territory, albeit with Mexico predecessors in the United States, such as California Hokanos. The Subtiavas or Maribios arrived in Nicaragua following the Mangues or Chorotegas. Passing through El Salvador and the West Coast Honduras penetrated by the Black River around or after the eleventh century of our era. The Maribios occupied the flat area west of the volcanic mountain range of the same name (adulterated later in Marrabios) they christened the Spanish province of the flayed. The reason? A resource to resist. In order to instil fear, the conquerors coated their faces with the skins of those they had killed. In fact, this action was but the practice of bloody cult of Xipe, one of the chichimecas gods.
Christopher Columbus discovers the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua
The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus, who in his fourth voyage, rounded a trip out named Gracias a Dios. The first Spanish expedition route terrestrial, they conducted was with Gil Gonzalez Davila and Young Andres, who arrived in Nicaragua from Panama in 1522. Gonzalez came into contact with the Nicoya and Nicaragua caciques, initiating the conquest and colonization of the territory. The Spanish founded Leon and Granada in 1524.
Nicaragua was ruled from 1527-1531 by Pedrarias Davila, who was characterized by his cruelty against the Indians. In 1544, after a period of intense rivalry between the Spaniards, the territory was incorporated into the Captaincy General of Guatemala. During this time, the country enjoyed relative peace and prosperity, though some English pirates, such as Francis Drake, tried to invade and plunder populations. In 1610 the city of Leon was moved to its current location following an earthquake. In the eighteenth century, English allied with the Miskito Indians and consolidated its hegemony in the region. In 1748 the English took over San Juan de Nicaragua and began to extend its influence throughout the Caribbean coast. During the second half of this century, the territory of the Mosquitia and Mosquito Coast became considered a British colony until 1860, when the Treaty of Managua, recognized the sovereignty of Nicaragua, constituting the Mosquitia Reserve.
The first separatists outbreaks began in 1811 in Leon, Granada and Rivas; all of them had a strong popular character led by Creoles. The Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was part of Nicaragua, declared its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. A year later, and with the other provinces linked to Guatemala, it was annexed to ephemeral Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In 1823, after the fall of the Emperor, Nicaragua was part of the Federation of United Provinces of Central America (Integrated also by Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica). In 1826 Manuel Antonio de la Cerda was elected first Chief of the Land of Nicaragua. Sustained fighting among liberals, concentrated in the city of León, and the Conservatives, whose main center was Granada, became the most outstanding feature of Nicaraguan politics. The Liberals, who were fighting to establish an independent nation in 1838 got the National Assembly in Chinandega, Nicaragua and proclaimed independence.
However, the civil conflict continued and in 1855 the American adventurer William Walker, with a small band of freebooters, the Liberals joined to lead his troops. Walker held Granada on October 13, 1855, and a year later became president of Nicaragua and was recognized as such by the United States. However, by seizing property belonging to a transport company controlled by US industrial Cornelius Vanderbilt, earned their enmity. Vanderbilt backed the conservative, anti-Walker, and Walker was expelled from the country on March 1, 1857, after a bloody war, in which participated armies of other Central American countries.
Liberal Revolution (1893)
In 1893 a revolution brought to power the Liberal leader José Santos Zelaya, who ruled
autocratically over the next 16 years. Zelaya was overthrown in 1909 and two years later Adolfo Diaz took office. During his tenure, Diaz had the support of the United States, which intervened in 1912 for the first time in Nicaragua by sending a contingent Marine. In 1916 the Bryan Chamorro Treaty entered into force, an agreement by which United States obtained the option to build a canal across the country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, to lease the Corn Islands and establish a naval base in the Gulf of Fonseca; all in return for payment of 3 million. The agreement triggered the protest from Costa Rica. The Marines remained in Nicaragua until August 1925. Afterward, new revolts occurred, so the United States again intervened a year later. From that time, US troops fought guerrillas Liberal leader Augusto C. Sandino. In 1928 new elections were held and the liberal general Jose Maria Moncada won. He took office a year later. The Marines were withdrawn on January 1, 1933. Anastasio Somoza Garcia was appointed by the new president Juan Bautista Sacasa as commander of the National Guard, who a year later ordered the execution of the guerrilla Augusto C. Sandino. In 1937 was Somoza Garcia was elected president, starting a dynasty that would rule the country for more than forty years dictatorially.
The regime of the Somoza family
In June 1945, Nicaragua became a founding member of the Organization of Nations. In 1948 Nicaragua joined the Organization of American States and in 1951 the Organization of States of Central America. Throughout this period the Somoza regime experienced a series rebellions and social discontent which were controlled timely, until 21 September 1956 when Somoza Garcia was killed in an attack. His son, Luis Somoza Debayle, replaced him in the charge and a year later won the elections and took the executive. In 1967 Anastasio (Tachito) Somoza Debayle, the youngest son of the former dictator, was elected president and established an authoritarian and cruel regime, which was supported by the National Guard to suppress any opposition to his government. In August 1971 he repealed the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly.
In the elections for a new Assembly in February 1972, the Liberal Party won clearly. In May of that year Somoza resigned as commander in Chief of the Armed Forces; political control was assumed by a triumvirate consisting of two liberal and conservative. On December 23, 1972 the city of Managua was destroyed totally by an earthquake, with thousands dead and homeless. Martial law was declared and Somoza again became chief executive. He was formally elected president in 1974.
In early 1978 Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, editor of La Prensa of Managua and prominent opponent of the regime of Somoza, was assassinated. The president was accused of complicity. Afterwards the country entered a period of widespread violence that led to a civil war. The opposition forces were led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a guerrilla group formed in 1962 and named in memory of Augusto C. Sandino. The Sandinista advance on Managua was very fast. Trying to avoid another Communist regime (in addition to Cuba) in Latin America, the United States pressured Somoza to renounce the power in favor of a moderate coalition. On July 17, 1979 Somoza left the country, settling first in Miami (Florida) and then in Asuncion, Paraguay, where he was assassinated in 1980. The Sandinistas appointed a Government of National Reconstruction to run the country. They faced enormous difficulties, and tried (initially supported US) activating the economy, but the US soon opposed the leftist policy who which had nationalized the banks and intended to carry out a thorough land reform. After accusing them of supplying the guerrillas of El Salvador, the government of Ronald Reagan began the economic blockade of the country in 1981 and began to finance anti-Sandinista armed groups, called against Nicaragua. A new civil war began therefore which caused numerous deaths. In the elections of November 1984, the FSLN candidate to president, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, won by a wide margin. In October 1985 he declared a state of emergency for one year, under which civil rights were suspended.
In March 1988, during the first conversation to reach a peace agreement, the Contras and Sandinistas agreed to a truce. In February 1989 was signed in Costa del Sol (El Salvador). It was an agreement between the five Central American presidents, which involved the dismantling of the Contras and carrying out constitutional reforms to ensure the elections with full political freedom a year later.
Nicaragua in the 1990s
In February 1990, general elections were held under the supervision of observers international. The anti-Sandinista coalition supported by the United States, the National Union Opposition (UNO), won the majority in the National Assembly and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, widow of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, was elected president, replacing Daniel Ortega. Violeta Barrios initiated a reconstruction program that established the demobilization of rebels. It was a gradual reduction in the number of army troops and monetary reform. The high inflation rate went down, but economic growth remained stagnant and unemployment rose.
In 1991 Violeta Chamorro named Humberto Ortega, brother of Daniel Ortega and prominent Sandinista leader, chief of the Armed Forces, who managed discontent and those who supported the contras. The crisis erupted in 1993 when the contra forces kidnapped 38 people to force the resignation of Humberto Ortega. Sandinista allies responded with the kidnapping of the vice-president and 32 others. All hostages were released in August 1993 and finally Humberto Ortega left office in February 1995.
In October 1996, Nicaragua held new presidential elections, in which Arnoldo German candidate supported by the sectors previously agglutinated UNO beat FSLN leader Daniel Ortega. In January 1997, German took up his post as President. In November 2001, the Nicaraguan people were called again to elections and a historical share (about 90%) turned out to elect a new president of the applicant ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) Ing. Enrique Bolanos Geyer, who had served as vice president during the administration of Dr. Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo.