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Fernando Bernabé Agüero Rocha (born June 11, 1920 in Managua), the fiery leader of the Conservative Party opposition to Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, fatally wounded his support by entering into a pact with Somoza in 1971, though he would continue in politics.

In the 1960s, Fernando Agüero, a doctor and charismatic orator, emerged as the leader of the Conservative opposition to Somoza's Liberal-based régime. His uncompromising stance captured the imagination of his followers. The 1966 National Opposition Union selected Agüero as its candidate in the upcoming elections. On January 22, 1967, after delivering an inspiring pre-election speech to a large rally in Managua, he led his supporters in a march that turned violent. It ended with dozens dead, and Agüero himself taking sanctuary in a hotel with his bodyguard, Edén Pastora.

In 1971, however, he entered into the infamous "Kupia Kumi" (Miskito for "one heart") pact with Somoza, in which he became a member of a three-man Liberal-Conservative Junta that would officially rule Nicaragua, even though everyone knew Somoza would remain the real power. It has been suggested that his antipathy towards his intra-party rivals, the Chamorros, outweighed his antipathy towards Somoza, and that he sought to gain an advantage through the ability to dispense patronage and favors.

The pact, however, dismayed his followers and split his party. Breakaway factions formed in response, including Pedro Joaquín Chamorro's Democratic Liberation Union (Unión Democrática de Liberación, UDEL). In his memoirs, Somoza bitterly accused Agüero of continuing to work to undermine him, and Agüero was removed from the junta on March 1, 1973 after criticizing Somoza's embezzlement of relief aid. But as far as the general public was concerned, he had become a Somoza collaborator.

During the 1960s, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) had waged a guerrilla struggle against the Somoza government, but Agüero's Conservatives had remained the primary vehicle of protest against Somoza and the FSLN was seen as a radical fringe. With Agüero now seen as just another corrupt sellout, Somoza's traditional Conservative opposition was weakened. New FSLN political strategies, involving playing down their communist ideology and entering into alliances with the bourgeoisie, enabled them to exploit the population's new openness to alternatives.

Shortly after the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, Agüero's property was confiscated, and he went into exile in Miami. He entered into the politics of the Contras, and in 1988 wrangled himself onto the Nicaraguan Resistance negotiating delegation at Sapoá. He formed the Social Conservative Party to take advantage of the political opportunities offered by the Sandinistas' liberalization. Following the Sandinista loss in the 1990 election, he regained his ranch in Boaco Department.

Fernado Rodrigo Agüero Salinas



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