Sandinista Popular/People's Militias (Nicaragua)

Country: Nicaragua
Details of Formation: The Sandinista Popular/People’s Militia was formed in early 1980 and had developed out of the Sandinista insurrection.
Details of Termination: The army and militia were drastically reduced as part of a peace deal signed after a new administration took office under Mrs Violeta Barrios de Chamorro as President and Minister of Defence. The group did not disappear altogether, though, but gradually diminished in size.
Purpose: The militia served a wide arrange of purposes. Initially its role was mainly to be an auxiliary police force and provide public security. With time, its prevailing purpose became to protect national integrity by fighting against Contra rebels.
Organisation: The militia is linked to the Sandinist party and organized into territorial units.
Weapons and Training: In 1981, there were 100 training centres organised by the government. Militia members were encouraged to join the training several afternoons a month; members with outstanding performances receive additional training and join reserve battalions. The training was led by the military. In 1985, the government supplied the militia with 200,000 rifles, submachine guns and machine pistols. In 1987 again, it distributed rifles to 300,000 Nicaraguans. The militia’s weapons included Soviet AK-47 rifles.
Size: The estimates vary significantly. News sources reported for 1982 70,000 militia members, for 1983 100,000 and for 1984 at least 50,000. In 1987, a news source mentions that Ortega handed out weapons to more than 300,000 citizens, in a move resembling the building of the militia.
Reason for Membership: Members were supporters of President Ortega. Many had already fought for the Sandinists in the final stages of the 1979 revolution.
Treatment of Civilians: --
Other Information: --
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.