Asuncion, Paraguay — The assassination of deposed Nicaraguan strong man, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, by a bomb and machine gun attack marks the end of an era, James Nelson Goodsell, the Monitor's Latin America correspondent, writes.
For Nicaragua's leaders, who have been in power for little over a year, General Somoza's death eliminates the one man who symbolized all they fought against during their more than 20-year guerrilla struggle.
The former dictator, ousted from power July 17, 1979, was part of a family dynasty that ruled Nicaragua 43 years. His father and older brother preceded him as Nicaraguan strong men. His father, Anastasio Somoza Garcia, was also killed by assassin's bullets, in 1956.
Just who was responsible for Wednesday's assassination on a downtown street in Paraguay's capital is not known at this writing. There had been numerous threats against "Tacho" Sonoza ever since he went into exile last year. But even though they hated the general, the Sandinista guerrillas now controlling Nicaragua say they were not involved in the threats, nor in any of several attempts to kill him earlier this year.
General Somoza had been in Paraguayan exile for most of the time since his ouster, but it was a lonely existence. Paraguayan President Alfredo Stroessner at first welcomed him warmly, but there were reports that their friendship had colled. It was widely speculated that General Somoza was planning to move on, and there were rumors he had purchased a home in Punta del Este, Uruguay's Atlantic beachfront resort.