My previous post examined collages of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the brutal dictator of Nicaragua deposed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1978, which highlighted the corruption and greed of the regime. Today’s images are series of cartoons depicting Somoza as a murderous Nazi pig. Like the images in the last blog post, these cartoons came from Gaceta Sandinista, the FSLN’s publication operating out of Cuba and were part of a propaganda campaign aimed at influencing opinion in Nicaragua and internationally against Somoza Debayle.
In each cartoon the dictator is shown as a pig in the garb of a military officer with Somoza Debayle’s trademark horn-rimmed glasses. The cartoonist, whose mark can be found at the bottom of each image, clearly sought to highlight not only the brutality of the Somoza regime (swastikas, bloody weaponry, sharp teeth) but also emphasize the regimes corruption and greed, hence depicting him as a pig. Each cartoon also emphasizes Somoza Debayle’s connections to the United States, notice that his tail spells out “CIA” or the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.
Following his election in 1976, Jimmy Carter pressured Somoza Debayle to democratize and respect human right. In order to appease his main benefactor Somoza Debayle liberalized Nicaragua, however these reforms were superficial and did little to mitigate the dictators brutal practices. In the cartoon above Somoza Debayle is saying “I am for human rights” while holding a bloody ax and standing over the grave of los desaparecidos or “the disappeared ones,” the victims of Latin America’s military regimes. The image above represents Somoza Debayle’s lip-service to human rights while continuing the bloody suppression of the Nicaraguan people.
The final cartoon is another representation of the relationship between Somoza Debayle and the United States. In the cartoon above Somoza Debayle is using the legs of an eagle (the United States) as stilts. The Somoza regime maintained its hold on power largely through the support of the United States, which provided significant amounts of military and monetary aid to Somoza Debayle and his personal military, the National Guard. This support proved crucial to propping up the Somoza Debayle and once it was removed his regime quickly crumbled. The Carter administration facilitated the decline of the dictator by cutting military aid in an effort to bring about democratization and human rights