Nicaragua declared war on the Axis powers on December 9, 1941. In June 1945 it became a charter member of the United Nations. Nicaragua joined the Organization of American States in 1948 and the Organization of Central American States, created to solve common Central American problems, in 1951. In 1956 Anastasio Somoza, who had resumed the presidency, was assassinated. He was succeeded by his son, Luis Somoza Debayle, who first served out his father's term and was then elected in his own right. For four years after the end of his tenure, close associates, rather than the Somozas themselves, held the presidency. Then, in 1967, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, younger son of the former dictator, was elected president. A military-minded autocrat, he repressed opposition with the aid of the National Guard.
In August 1971 the legislature abrogated the constitution and dissolved itself. In elections to a constituent assembly in February 1972, Somoza's Liberal party won decisively. In May, Somoza stepped down to the post of chief of the armed forces; political control was assumed by a triumvirate of two Liberals and one Conservative. On December 23, 1972, the city of Managua was virtually leveled by earthquake; about 6000 were killed and 20,000 injured. Martial law was declared, and Somoza in effect became chief executive again. He was formally elected president in 1974.
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