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Nicaragua
land of volcanoes and lakes
One of 7 countries in Central
America, bordering the Pacific
Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
Beautiful landscape, friendly
people, warm climate, vivid
history. Latin American food,
language, music, and culture.
But, second only to Haiti,
Nicaragua is the second
poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere.
Why?
Brief history 1
Spanish colonization in Central
America in the 1500s devastated
indigenous self-sufficiency and
inserted political, economic, and
social systems that favoured the
rich and enslaved the poor.
Imposed technology, religion,
disease, trade, and development
patterns planted the seeds of
poverty that are evident today.
Nicaraguan independence in
1821 only resulted in local elites
continually fighting each other
for power.
colonization by Spain
Brief history 2
U.S. interest in Nicaragua starts in
the 1850s with it becoming a
passage way for the gold route.
But, in the 1890s Nicaragua
would lose its bid to Panama to
build a permanent canal linking
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In order to extend its economic
interests in Nicaragua and its
political interests globally, the
U.S. Marines occupy Nicaragua
from 1909-33 and control
government functions such as
transportation, trade, customs,
and electoral management.
interests of U.S.
Brief history 3
Augusto Sandino’s resistance to
U.S. intervention ends with his
assasination in 1934 and begins
45 years of cruel and corrupt
dictatorship by the Somozas and
the U.S. trained National Guard.
The 1972 earthquake flattens
Managua and leaves poor people
poorer and rich people enraged
at President Somoza’s theft of
donated relief funds.
The city centre was never rebuilt
and access to basic municipal
service remained very limited.
sandino / somoza / earthquake
Brief history 4
From 1959-79 resistance is
successfully organized around the
FSLN and Somoza is overthrown.
From 1979-1990 the Sandinista
revolutionary government
improves health, education,
literacy, land ownership, citizen
participation, business practices,
and other services for the public.
But the U.S. financed Contra war,
undermines the FSLN and it yields
power in 1990 to a succession of
three neo-liberal Presidents until
2006 when its persistent leader is
re-elected.
revolution / contra war
Brief history 5
Controversial for many reasons,
President Daniel Ortega and the
FSLN is loved by some for its antiU.S. rhetoric and social policies,
and suspected by others for its
concentration of power and
wealth accumulation.
Regardless, over 1 million people
live in Managua today, many still
in “barrios” with inadequate
health, housing, education, or
employment opportunities.
Many organizations facilitate
improvement of living conditions
and support national community
development efforts.
[END]
emerging democracy
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