Enrique Bolaños

Enrique José Bolaños Geyer (pronounced [enˈrike βoˈlaɲos]; 13 May 1928 – 14 June 2021)[2][3] was a Nicaraguan politician who served as President of Nicaragua from 10 January 2002 to 10 January 2007.

Enrique Bolaños
Enrique Bolaños Geyer 2004a.jpg
Bolaños in 2004
President of Nicaragua
In office
10 January 2002 – 10 January 2007
Vice PresidentJosé Rizo Castellón (2002–2005)
Alfredo Gómez Urcuyo (2005–2007)
Preceded byArnoldo Alemán
Succeeded byDaniel Ortega
Vice President of Nicaragua
In office
10 January 1997 – 24 October 2000
PresidentArnoldo Alemán
Preceded byJulia Mena
Succeeded byLeopoldo Navarro Bermúdez
Personal details
Enrique José Bolaños Geyer

(1928-05-13)13 May 1928
Nindirí, Masaya Department, Nicaragua
Died14 June 2021(2021-06-14) (aged 93)
Nindirí, Masaya Department, Nicaragua
Resting placeMonimbo's cemetery
Political partyAlliance for the Republic
Other political
Constitutionalist Liberal Party[1]
(m. 1949; died 2008)
Alma materSaint Louis University

From 1997 to 2002, Bolaños served as vice president under Arnoldo Alemán. On 4 November 2001 he defeated Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front party in the presidential election and was sworn in as president on 10 January 2002. He was a member of the Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) until he broke with it to help form the Alliance for the Republic (APRE). At the beginning of his term as president, he led an anti-corruption campaign that ultimately convicted his predecessor and head of the PLC, Arnoldo Alemán to 20 years in prison.

Early life and careerEdit

Bolaños was born in Masaya, Nicaragua, on 13 May 1928.[4] He received his primary and secondary education in Nicaragua at the Jesuit Colegio Centro América,[5] and graduated from Saint Louis University in the United States with a degree in industrial engineering.[4] He married Lila Teresita Abaunza in 1949.[6] They had five children,[7] a daughter and four sons,[8] including Enrique Bolaños Abaunza who is head of INCAE Business School.[9]

With his brothers Alejandro and Nicolás,[5] in 1952 high cotton prices promoted him to begin an agro-production enterprise.[2] This grew into the business, founded in 1964, SAIMSA (Industrial Agricultural Services of Masaya), a consortium that became one of the largest cotton producers in Central America by the 1970s.[10] Bolaños served as an active member of the influential business chamber COSEP (Superior Council for Private Enterprise), and served as its president from 1983 to 1988.[11] Under his leadership, COSEP was a vigorously anti-Sandinista institution;[2] Bolaños described himself as anti-communist[5] and believed investment was the way to lift the country out of poverty.[12]

Bolaños publicly opposed Daniel Ortega's Sandinista government during the 1980s. After COSEP sent a letter criticizing the Junta of National Reconstruction, Bolaños was one of the COSEP figures arrested, on 20 October 1981 and held for six days, though he was not yet part of the COSEP leadership which signed the aforementioned letter.[5] One month later he was imprisoned again upon returning from an AIL (Association of Latin American Enterprises) conference in Venezuela.[13] Under the government's controversial agrarian reform program, in 1985 SAIMSA was confiscated by the government.[2] Bolanos characterized the confiscation as a reprisal for his political activities.[14] He worked as a computer programmer following the confiscation of his business.[2]

In October 1995 Bolaños was elected campaign manager for the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) in the 1996 elections.[2] The following May, he was chosen by presidential candidate and former mayor of Managua Arnoldo Alemán as the PLC's vice-presidential candidate.[2] The ticket defeated perennial Sandinista candidate Ortega with 51% of the vote, and Alemán and Bolaños were sworn in as president and vice president, respectively, on 10 January 1997.[15]

Presidency (2002–2007)Edit

Presidential styles of
Enrique Bolaños
Reference styleEl Honorable Enrique Bolaños, Presidente de la República de Nicaragua
The Honorable Enrique Bolaños, President of the Republic of Nicaragua
Spoken stylePresidente Bolaños President Bolaños
Alternative styleSeñor Presidente Mister President

Bolaños was chosen as the presidential candidate for the 2001 elections at the Grand Convention of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) meeting in 2001. Facing a country still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Bolaños campaigned on the slogan “let’s roll up our sleeves”.[12] He won the presidential elections with 56.3% of the vote, while Daniel Ortega received 42.3% and Conservative Party candidate Alberto Saborio received 1.4%.[16]

Bolaños was sworn in as President of the Republic of Nicaragua on 10 January 2002 to serve a five-year term (2002–2007).[1] Two days later, he began an anti-corruption campaign to investigate and prosecute all former and current state employees who engaged in corrupt behavior. In August this resulted in the prosecution, and ultimately the conviction of his predecessor Alemán with fraud, money laundering, and misuse of public funds,[4] in sums totaling almost $100 million.[2] The case, known as “la huaca”, is one of the largest in Nicaraguan history.[2] Alemán served six of a 20-year sentence, mainly under house arrest, until he was acquitted by the Ortega administration in 2009.[4]

Throughout his administration, Bolaños faced obstacles from power based outside the Presidency, later citing what he characterized as three coup attempts against his government: the first, early in his tenure came when the Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua sent an accusation to the National Assembly that he had used funds from the "huaca" to finance his electoral campaign and asked to reverse it.[17] The second came in 2004 when an opinion from the Comptroller's Office sent to the National Assembly sought to remove him from office.[17] Finally, in September 2005, Bolaños publicly denounced as a “slow motion coup” the joint efforts of Ortega, Alemán, the PLC, and the FSLN, together with the National Assembly, which attempted constitutional reforms to strip him of power.[18] Demonstrations called by the FSLN backed the National Assembly’s actions.[17] The executive branch was partially stripped of its powers to appoint ministers and public officials, but, facing pressure from the international community, particularly the OAS, the EU, and the United States, constitutional changes were postponed until the following year.[18]

Despite this crisis, he succeeded in negotiating the ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by the National Assembly; as well as the forgiveness of 80% of Nicaragua’s debts by creditors.[2] Focused on macroeconomics, he set up investment incentives that spurred sustained economic growth at levels the country had not seen in decades; but this emphasis came at the expense of policies to help the poor, something his adversary Ortega seized on to fuel opposition.[12]

Bolaños (right) with U.S Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2004.

A staunch conservative, Bolaños allegedly ordered the compilation of a list of public officials "suspected" of being part of the "gay-lesbian world".[19] In November 2006, abortion was outlawed under all circumstances[12] and Bolaños proposed a 30-year prison sentence as punishment.[20]

During the 2006 presidential election campaign, the Nicaraguan Constitution barred the incumbent from seeking re-election and Bolaños's Alliance for the Republic party (APRE) joined the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, whose candidate Eduardo Montealegre took second place. [21] Bolaños turned over the presidency to his longtime political opponent Daniel Ortega on 10 January 2007.[22] As outgoing President, he was legally entitled to a seat in the new session of the National Assembly, a practice he had criticized after its creation in the 1990s as part of the “pact” between Alemán and Ortega.[2] Bolaños instead left the political arena, formally resigning his seat in February 2007.[2]


Following his retirement from politics, Bolaños ran the Enrique Bolaños Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation[23] that provides free and democratic access to all documents from Bolaños' presidency as well as many digitized collections of Nicaraguan historical, political, cultural, and juridical documents, making it one of the main centers of historical documentation in the country.[8] It is the first Nicaraguan presidential library, and one of Latin America's first virtual presidential libraries,[24] which Bolaños programmed and developed himself.[2]

Despite having left politics, he remained a critic of Ortega, who Bolaños said had never left power since he first toppled Somoza in 1979.[8]

In 2017, Bolaños published The Struggle for Power, which both gave a political history of Nicaragua from 1821 to 2007 and also served as a memoir of his time in the presidency.[2]

His wife Lila T. Abaunza died in 2008 of a brain hemorrhage.[6][8] Three of Bolaños’s children also predeceased him.[8] In August 2020, Bolaños’s family shared news that he was in poor health.[25] He died on 14 June 2021 in his home outside Managua at the age of 93.[12] He was interred at the family crypt at Monimbó cemetery.[8]

Electoral history of Enrique Bolaños GeyerEdit

Vice Presidential election results, 20 October 1996Edit

Candidate Party/Alliance Votes %
José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo and Enrique Bolaños Geyer Liberal Alliance (AL) = Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) / Independent Liberal Party for National Unity (PLIUN) / Nationalist Liberal Party (PLN) / Neoliberal Party (PALI) 896,207 50.99%
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra and Juan Manuel Caldera Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) 664,909 37.83%
Others 21 Political Parties 196,659 11.18%
Total valid votes 1,757,775 100%
Spoilt and invalid votes 91,587 04.95%
Total votes/Turnout 1,849,362 76.39%
Registered voters 2,421,067
Population 4,706,000

National Convention of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) presidential primaries, 28 January 2001Edit


Presidential election results, 4 November 2001Edit

Candidate Party/Alliance Votes %
Enrique Bolaños Geyer Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) 1,228,412 56.31%
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) 922,436 42.28%
Alberto Saborío Conservative Party of Nicaragua (PC) 30,670 01.41%
Total valid votes 100% 2,181,518



  1. ^ a b "Gobernantes de Nicaragua". Ministerio de Educación. 9 December 2012. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Fallece expresidente de Nicaragua Enrique Bolaños Geyer, a los 93 años". Confidencial (in Spanish). 15 June 2021. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  3. ^ East, Roger; Thomas, Richard J. (3 June 2014). Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders. Routledge. ISBN 9781317639404 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d "Enrique Bolaños, former Nicaragua president, dies at 93". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Camino a la Presidencia - La nominación". www.enriquebolanos.org. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Lila Abaunza, former Nicaraguan first lady, dies at 79". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 19 July 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Nicaraguan ex-president and corruption fighter Bolanos dies at 93". France 24. 16 June 2021. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e f López, Karen Díaz; Baltodano, Isela (15 June 2021). "Fallece Enrique Bolaños Geyer, expresidente de Nicaragua". La Prensa (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 June 2021. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  9. ^ Fuller, Cindy. "El Incae Ante La Amenaza Del Coronavirus." La Prensa, 1 April 2020. Via ProQuest.
  10. ^ Paige, Jeffery M. (1998). Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of Democracy in Central America. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674136496. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  11. ^ Rostrán, Carlos. "Ex-Presidentes". www.cosep.org.ni (in European Spanish). Retrieved 7 June 2018.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b c d e Maldonado, Carlos Salinas (15 June 2021). "Muere el expresidente de Nicaragua Enrique Bolaños Geyer, abanderado anticorrupción". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  13. ^ EFE (6 November 2001). "Enrique Bolaños, un empresario de 73 años en la presidencia de Nicaragua". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  14. ^ Times, Stephen Kinzer and Special To the New York. "SANDINISTAS SEIZE LAND OF A CRITIC". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  15. ^ "History of Vicepresidency". Archived from the original on 25 October 2008.
  16. ^ a b "IRI" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  17. ^ a b c Agüero, Arnulfo (13 August 2018). "Enrique Bolaños escapó a tres maniobras golpistas de Ortega". La Prensa (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 June 2021. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Deal to end crisis in Nicaragua". BBC News. 11 October 2005. Archived from the original on 13 October 2005. Retrieved 11 October 2005.
  19. ^ "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at risk in Nicaragua" (PDF). Amnesty International. 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Se penaliza en Nicaragua el aborto terapéutico". www.mujeresenred.net. Archived from the original on 9 July 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  21. ^ Escrutinio – Elecciones Nacionales 2006 Archived 3 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Ortega returns to power in Nicaragua". AP, via NBC News. 10 January 2007. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  23. ^ "Biblioteca Enrique Bolaños". www.enriquebolanos.org. Archived from the original on 7 May 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  24. ^ Blanco, Benjamín (13 April 2014). "4 mil visitas diarias a la biblioteca virtual de expresidente". El Nuevo Diario (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 4 October 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  25. ^ Fuller, Cindy. "Expresidente Enrique Bolaños Delicado De Salud." La Prensa. 31 August 2020. Via ProQuest.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Vice President of Nicaragua
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Nicaragua
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by PLC nominee for President of Nicaragua
Succeeded by