contra war, civilian control, Chamorro, military strength, conscription
During the contra war of the 1980s Nicaragua’s army reached a strength of 134,000. Chamorro won the 1990 presidential elections in part because she promised to end conscription and reduce the military, which was quickly accomplished. In 2001 military strength had declined to 16,000 members. Nicaragua’s army includes small air and naval components.
Police functions were separated from the military in 1979. In 1994 a new military code strengthened civilian control over the army and limited the term of the military commander. Civil-military tensions have declined since 1995, and the military was not an issue in the 1996 elections. In 1997 the Aleman administration installed Nicaragua’s first civilian defense minister.
Article key phrases: