Somoza Debayle, Anastasio (änästäsˈyō sōmōˈsä ħābĪˈlā) [key], 1925–80, president of Nicaragua (1967–72, 1974—79). The younger son of dictator Anastasio Somoza, he was educated in the United States. He assumed command of the national guard at age 21 and was elected president in 1967. Barred from immediate reelection, he resigned (1972), nominally yielding power until the 1974 elections; however, as commander of the corrupt and brutal national guard, he effectively retained power. As president, he dealt ruthlessly with opposition. By the late 1970s, his regime was denounced by human-rights organizations and by the U.S. government, and support for violent insurrection spread. Somoza fled Nicaragua on the eve of the revolutionary victory in 1979. He was assassinated in Paraguay.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.