Repoliticizing the Nicaraguan Army: Civil-Military Relations Under Daniel Ortega (2007–2017)

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J. Mark Ruhl


The Nicaraguan army grew out of leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) guerrilla forces and served as the military arm of the Revolution until Sandinista President Daniel Ortega was defeated in the 1990 election. From 1990 to 2006, the army evolved into a non-partisan, professional force respected across the political spectrum. Since returning to the presidency in 2007, however, Ortega has built an authoritarian regime and has attempted to repoliticize the armed forces by reviving the army’s Sandinista sympathies, co-opting senior officers with material rewards, and expanding the military’s role and resources. This study describes the army’s evolution, analyzes President Ortega’s three-part strategy to regain control, and evaluates his relative success.

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