Zelaya, José Santos

Zelaya, José Santos

(hōsā` sän`tōs sālä`yä), 1853–1919, president of Nicaragua (1894–1909). Although a leader of the Liberal party, he kept power by playing the Liberal and Conservative parties against each other and established an unswerving dictatorship. Zelaya developed railroad and steamer transportation, coffee growing, and education, but nevertheless he drained Nicaragua's resources for his own profit. He seized (1894) the Mosquito CoastMosquito Coast
or Mosquitia
, region, east coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. The name is derived from the Miskito, the indigenous inhabitants and remnants of the Chorotega, who were never conquered by the Spanish. Never exactly delimited, the region is a belt c.
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 by force, thus ending British control. He fomented revolutions in neighboring countries and tried to reestablish the Central American FederationCentral American Federation
or Central American Union,
political confederation (1825–38) of the republics of Central America—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Salvador.
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 with himself as head. His ambitions created intense opposition, which led to the Washington Conference of 1907 and the establishment of the Central American Court of Justice. The United States was highly antagonistic to him, and the presence of U.S. cruisers helped rebel forces to overthrow and exile him.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zelaya, José Santos

 

Born Nov. 1, 1853, in Managua; died May 17, 1919, in New York. Nicaraguan state figure.

As president of Nicaragua from 1893 to 1909, Zelaya enacted a number of reforms, such as the separation of church and state and the introduction of universal franchise and of civil marriage; he also promoted the development of public education. Zelaya sought to lessen Nicaragua’s dependence on the USA and to this end requested Japan to subsidize the construction of an interoceanic canal across Nicaragua. In addition, he advocated the establishment of a Central American confederation. Zelaya was forced from the presidency with the assistance of American monopolies.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.