chapter
Nicaragua
Pages 6

Reconstruction. 17 July 1979: With the FSLN preparing to seize control of the capital, Managua, President Somoza was forced into exile in Paraguay (where he was assassinated in September 1980). 20 July 1979: The Junta and its Provisional Governing Council took power as the Government of National Reconstruction. The existing Constitution was abrogated, the Congreso Nacional dissolved and an appointed Council of State was to act as an interim legislature. The National Guard was disbanded and replaced by the Ejercito Popular Sandinista (EPS). 4 March 1981: Cmdr Daniel Ortega Saavedra was appointed Co-ordinator of the Junta and of its new consultative body, the Council of Government. March 1982: The Sandinista Government declared a state of emergency, after USsponsored counter-revolutionary forces (‘Contras’), mostly composed of members of the former National Guard, began to operate from camps in Honduras. June 1984: Talks commenced between the Nicaraguan and US Governments in order to foster peace initiatives proposed by the ‘Contadora group’ (Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela). 4 November 1984: The FSLN candidate, Daniel Ortega, was elected President. In elections to the new National Constituent Assembly, the FSLN won a majority. July 1985: Miskito Indians began to return to their ancestral homes in northern Nicaragua, following talks with the Government concerning regional autonomy. 9 January 1987: A new Constitution came into effect. 17 August 1987: A peace plan for Nicaragua was signed by the five Central American states. A National Commission for Reconciliation was formed and, in January 1988, the Government ended the state of emergency and agreed to negotiate with the Contras. 23 March 1988: A 60-day cease-fire was agreed, although this was later extended unilaterally by the Government until November 1989. The Government agreed to release political prisoners and to permit the Contras to participate in future elections. June 1989: The Union Nacional Opositora (UNO) was formed by 14 opposition parties. 7 August 1989: The five Central American Presidents signed an accord providing for the voluntary demobilization, repatriation or relocation of the Contras within 90 days. However, in November President Ortega declared an end to the cease-fire, claiming that the rebels were still operating from bases in Honduras. 25 February 1990: The UNO defeated the FSLN in legislative elections and its candidate, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (the widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro), defeated Ortega to be elected President. The UNO failed to secure a sufficient number of seats in the Asamblea Nacional to amend the Constitution and radically reform the EPS. March 1990: The outgoing FSLN Government introduced the piñata laws, which guaranteed property rights for the thousands of Nicaraguans who had benefited from the land expropriation conducted by the Sandinistas. 19 April 1990: The EPS and the Contras agreed the terms of a cease-fire. 25 April 1990: The Chamorro administration assumed power and began to reverse many

end of Nicaragua’s 11-year civil war. 18 June 1991: The FSLN withdrew indefinitely its 39 deputies from the Asamblea Nacional, in protest against proposals to revoke the piñata laws concerning the redistribution of property. 21 July 1991: The first congress of the FSLN appointed Daniel Ortega to the newlycreated post of General Secretary. 23 August 1991: The legislature approved the abrogation of the piñata laws, although on 11 September President Chamorro vetoed parts of the bill that she deemed to be unconstitutional. 29 August 1991: A National Security Commission (including a 150-strong Brigada Especial de Desarme-BED) was established in order to disarm civilians. However, hostilities continued between rearmed Sandinistas (‘Recompas’) and rearmed Contra rebels (‘Re-contras’), who claimed that the Contras had not received the land and aid pledged to them under the resettlement plan. April 1992: Although the phased disarmament of the Re-contras and Recompas had begun in January, groups of the former combatants joined forces to form the ‘Revueltos’, demanding land and credit promised to them prior to demobilization. June 1992: The Government secured a court injunction which prevented a legislative vote of censure being taken against Gen. Humberto Ortega, the Chief of the EPS, who was accused of maintaining a clandestine pro-Sandinista army. 9 September 1992: In response to US and UNO criticism on the issue of the return of property expropriated under the Sandinista Government, President Chamorro signed three decrees establishing a property ombudsman’s office and an agreement to expedite the processing of property claims. 30 December 1992: After the President of the Asamblea Nacional had, in September, convened the legislature in the absence of the FSLN deputies and a group of dissident UNO deputies called the Grupo de Centro (GC), and had recruited substitute deputies to elect new legislative authorities, President Chamorro ordered the army to occupy the assembly building and appointed a provisional administration to manage legislative affairs pending the election of new authorities. 30 January 1993: New legislative authorities were appointed and a new Cabinet formed. Without a parliamentary majority or representation in the Cabinet, the UNO declared itself as an opposition party, the Alianza Política Opositora (APO), expelling four member parties for their involvement with the GC. May 1993: The Government held separate talks with the APO, the FSLN and trade unionists in an attempt to establish the agenda for a national dialogue. However, the APO demanded that its parliamentary majority be restored and Gen. Humberto Ortega be replaced as Chief of the EPS. 21-22 July 1993: The Government deployed more than 2,000 troops to quell an uprising by Re-compas in the northern town of Estelí; some 45 people (including several civilians) died in the ensuing violence. 17 August 1993: The Asamblea Nacional approved an amnesty for all political crimes.