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Sandinistas,members of a left-wing Nicaraguan political party, the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN). The group, named for Augusto Cesar SandinoSandino, Augusto César
, 1895–1934, Nicaraguan revolutionary general. A farmer and a mining engineer, he joined the liberal revolution (1926) against the conservative government headed by Adolfo Díaz and Emiliano Chamorro. He protested against the new U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. , a former insurgent leader, was formed in 1962 to oppose the regime of Anastasio Somoza DebayleSomoza Debayle, Anastasio
, 1925–80, president of Nicaragua (1967–72, 1974—79). The younger son of dictator Anastasio Somoza, he was educated in the United States. He assumed command of the national guard at age 21 and was elected president in 1967.
..... Click the link for more information. . In 1979 the Sandinistas launched an offensive from Costa Rica and Honduras that toppled Somoza. They established a junta that nationalized such industries as banking and mining, postponed elections, and moved steadily to the left, eventually espousing Marxist-Leninist positions. The Sandinista-dominated government was opposed by U.S.-supported guerrillas known as contras (see NicaraguaNicaragua
, officially Republic of Nicaragua, republic (2015 est. pop. 6,082,000), 49,579 sq mi (128,410 sq km), Central America. Nicaragua is bordered on the north and northwest by Honduras, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, on the south by Costa Rica, and on the southwest by
..... Click the link for more information. ). In 1984, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega SaavedraOrtega Saavedra, Daniel
, 1945–, president of Nicaragua (1979–90, 2007–). As a university student, he joined (1963) the clandestine Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN; see Sandinistas), a Marxist guerrilla coalition that opposed the Somoza dictatorship.
..... Click the link for more information. won the Nicaraguan presidency in an election that was boycotted by some opposition groups. In 1990 the opposition candidate, Violeta Barrios de ChamorroChamorro, Violeta Barrios de
, 1929–, president of Nicaragua (1990–97). Widow of martyred newspaper editor Joaquim Chamorro, she briefly joined the ruling Sandinista junta following the 1979 revolution.
..... Click the link for more information. , defeated Ortega, but Sandinistas continued to hold important positions in the police and army. In the mid-1990s a rift in the party led many opposed to Ortega's domination of the party and concerned about the party's drift from original ideals, including several former members of the junta, to form the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS). Although Ortega again lost a bid for the presidency in 1996, the Sandinistas became the major opposition party in the national assembly; the MRS only won one seat. Ortega also lost in 2001, but in 2006 and 2011 he won the presidency again, running against a divided center-right opposition. Since 2006, the party has used street violence and judicial chicanery in an attempt to increase its hold on political power.