Part 7 - With US Invaders Gone, A Dictator is Placed
U.S. troops left Nicaragua in January 1933 as Franklin D Roosevelt invoked his new Good Neighbor policy ending 40 years of direct military intervention in the region. The Marines passed control of the 4,000 enlisted National Guard troops to Somoza Garcia. With the occupying forces gone Sandino agreed to talk with Sacasa’s government. In February 1934, negotiations began. During their meetings, the liberal administration offered Sandino a general amnesty as well as land and safeguards for him and his guerrilla forces to stop the fighting still raging between the guerrilla forces and the National Guard.
Sandino, who regarded the Somoza’s forces as unconstitutional because of its ties to the U.S. military, insisted on the guard's dissolution, yet he pledged his support for the president and agreed to order his forces to surrender their weapons within three months.
Somoza saw in Sandino a strong force that could affect his hunger for power later on. So on Feb. 21, 1934, as the General of Free Men left the presidential palace after having dinner with Sacasa, Somoza Garcia gave orders to kill Sandino, without the president’s approval.
Sandino, his brother and two of his most trusted generals were arrested by National Guard officers, they were then taken to the airfield, executed, and buried in unmarked graves in Larreynaga. The Nicaraguan president, despite his disapproval, was too weak to contain the National Guard director. After Sandino's murder, the National Guard launched a ruthless campaign against the EDSN, and in about a month, Sandino's army was destroyed.
As Sacasa’s popularity and power diminished, Somoza Garcia took advantage of pushing the president to resign by June 6, 1936, an interim president was elected by Congress until elections were held. In December, Somoza was elected president by a margin of 107,201 votes to 108, “an implausibly high margin that could have been obtained only through massive fraud.”
On Jan. 1, 1937, he took office and also the role of director of the National Guard, combining the roles of president and chief of the military. The military dictatorship was established and a U.S.-backed dynasty under the Somoza family that would last four decades.