The founder of the dynasty, Anastasio Somoza García (b. Feb. 1, 1896, San Marcos, Nicaragua—d. Sept. 29, 1956, Ancón, Panama Canal Zone [now Panama]), was the son of a wealthy coffee planter and was educated in Nicaragua and the United States. By marrying the daughter of a prominent Nicaraguan family, he ensured himself a secure political career. He rose quickly through the political ranks to become head of Nicaragua’s army, the National Guard, in 1933. With the army at his disposal, he three years later deposed the elected president, Juan Bautista Sacasa; Somoza assumed the office on Jan. 1, 1937. Although he was officially not president from 1947 to 1950, his position as commander in chief guaranteed his continuous, firm rule; his authority was again made official by his election to a presidential term beginning in 1951.
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