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Nicaragua, like most Latin American nations, has a history of indirect conflict with the United States, specifically the United States under Ronald Reagan's government. In 1981, after being inaugurated as President, Reagan authorised the training and funding of a rebel force known as the "Contras" (Coming from the Spanish abbreviation for counter-revolutionary, "la contra-revolucion"). Both the Contras and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas were allegedly guilty of human rights abuses, though the Contras were more widely and heavily criticised of this.
In the past, before the Panama Canal was built, there was a plan to build a canal through Nicaragua. Instead, this plan was abandoned and the Panama Canal was built instead.