Nicaragua: The Great Earthquake of 1972



On this day, thirty-nine years ago, a devastating earthquake struck Managua. It measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and lasted seven seconds.

The earthquake brought nothing but catastrophe. Over 10,000 people lost their lives, while 250,000 lost their homes.

Around three-fourths of buildings in downtown Managua were razed by mother nature, and of those left standing, few still exist.

The once beautiful neo-classical cathedral was left a complete ruin, a condemned shell, which (until recently) was thought to be beyond restoration.

And yet, as you can see from the image above, the scars remain, an ever-present reminder the we must not be allowed to forget or ignore any lesson learned in the aftermath.

Decades later, the memory is rejuvenated annually through commemoration, yet what of the lesson(s) learned?

When the earthquake hit, my parents, my older brother, and I were living in Managua. I was barely two months old. Naturally, I remember nothing, but I have heard about the great earthquake my entire life.

To mark the anniversary, here’s a performance of Antoine Brumel‘s “Earthquake” Mass (Missa Et ecce terrae motus) by the Huelgas Ensemble.


Learn more:

  • 1972 Nicaragua Earthquake (Wikipedia)
  • “Bitter Memory”: An Infographic in Spanish (La Prensa)
[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]

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