Luis Somoza Debayle

Luis Somoza Debayle
26th President of Nicaragua
In office
29 September 1956 – 1 May 1963
Preceded byAnastasio Somoza García
Succeeded byRené Schick
Personal details
Born(1922-11-18)18 November 1922
León, Nicaragua
Died13 April 1967(1967-04-13) (aged 44)
Managua, Nicaragua
Political partyNationalist Liberal Party (PLN)
Spouse(s)
Isabel Urcuyo (m. 1947)
Children7

Luis Anastasio Somoza Debayle (18 November 1922 – 13 April 1967) was the 26th President of Nicaragua from 21 September 1956 to 1 May 1963,[1] but was effectively dictator of the country from 1956 until his death.

Somoza Debayle was born in León. At the age of 14, he and his younger brother Anastasio attended Saint Leo College Prep near Tampa, before transferring to La Salle Military Academy on Long Island.[2] Luis was then educated at Louisiana State University, where he was a member of Fi Sigma Alfa Hispanic fraternity.[3] He married Costa Rican Isabel Urcuyo on 9 June 1947, and they had seven children together.[4][5]

Following the assassination of his father, Anastasio Somoza García, Luis was tapped as acting president, and was elected president in his own right later that year. His rule was somewhat milder than that of his father. However, civil liberties remained restricted, and corruption remained widespread.

His brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, headed the National Guard and was the second most powerful man in the country during his older brother's rule. Although Luis declined to run for reelection in 1963, he and Anastasio saw to it that the presidency was held from 1963 onward by politicians loyal to the Somozas. As a result, Luis remained the real power in Nicaragua until his death in 1967, when he suffered a massive heart attack in Managua at the age of 44.

Luis Somoza was the president of the lower chamber of National Congress of Nicaragua 1950-1953 and 1954-1956[6][7], and the president of the Senate 1965-1966.[8]

Under Luis Somoza's regime, Nicaragua played a key role leading to the creation of the Central American Common Market, with the Alliance for Progress backing that common market's creation. During the Bay of Pigs Invasion, he allowed the CIA-trained Cuban rebels to embark from Puerto Cabezas, on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Sandinistas began their struggle against the government in 1963—a struggle that would oust his brother in 1979.

He is entombed at Cementerio Occidental with his father, in the National Guard Mausoleum in Managua, Nicaragua. His wife Isabel moved to Houston, Texas in the early 1990s, and died there in 2014.[9]