Old cathedral, Managua

Old Managua Cathedral (Pic du Jour)

This photo, taken in February 1994, is of the remains of the old cathedral in Managua which was heavily damaged in the 1972 earthquake that hit the Nicaraguan capital 41 years ago today. The 6.5 magnitude quake took upwards of 10,000 lives and left two-thirds of the city’s population, homeless.

Through the newly-formed National Emergency Committee, Anastasio Somoza, the last dictator of the Somoza dynasty that ruled the country since 1936, personally administered the tens of millions of dollars of international relief aid that arrived in Nicaragua in the quake’s wake. Predictably, much of it simply vanished and lined the pockets of his political and business allies, creating one of the first major upsurges of popular support for the insurgent FSLN (Sandinista) guerrillas that swept into power seven years later.

Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic American elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 while en route to Managua to personally deliver and guarantee that relief reached those who needed it.

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  1. Thank you, Bob: I was moved by your little capsule of history, and by the story of Clemente good intentions that could never be fulfilled. A rather extraordinary photo: in this state, it doesn’t actually resemble a cathedral, at all!

  2. It was really sad to see the old cathedral in such a state. I don’t know whether you’ve seen the new one, but I cannot understand how they had enough money to build this, to say the least, new piece of architecture, and let the old one and its history abandoned…

    1. I have seen the new one; suffice it to say that it’s really not the most attractive thing architecturally speaking. Immediately after the earthquake, the majority of relief money was stolen and during the strife of the 1980s, state resources were simply too meager. I read recently –past 8-12 months– that some feasibility studies have determined that the old structure can be fixed. Will it actually happen? I have my doubts.

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