Sandinista, member of Sandinista National Liberation Front, Spanish Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), one of a Nicaraguan group that overthrew President Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979, ending 46 years of dictatorship by the Somoza family. The Sandinistas governed Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990. Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was reelected as president in 2006.
Named for César Augusto Sandino, a hero of Nicaraguan resistance to U.S. military occupation (1927–33), the FSLN was founded in 1962 by Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga, and Tomás Borge Martínez as a revolutionary group committed to socialism and to the overthrow of the Somoza family. Over the next 10 years the FSLN organized political support among students, workers, and peasants. By the mid-1970s its attacks on the Nicaraguan National Guard from sanctuaries in Honduras and Costa Rica were serious enough that Somoza unleashed bloody reprisals against the Sandinistas. Fonseca and Mayorga were killed, and the FSLN split into three tendencias, or factions, that differed over whether the group should organize revolutionary cells only in the cities, continue to gradually accumulate support throughout the country, or coalesce with other political groups in the growing rebellion. The Nicaraguan revolution of 1978–79 reunited the Sandinistas under the third tendencia, headed by Daniel and Humberto Ortega Saavedra, and the FSLN, now numbering about 5,000 fighters, defeated the National Guard and overthrew Somoza in July 1979.
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