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By Richard R. Fagen

This paper is an attempt to understand the first 15 months of revolutionary rule in Nicaragua. Beginning with a brief history of more than 53 years of Sandinist struggle against the U.S. occupation and the Somoza dynasty, it then assesses the immediate legacies of the way in which Somoza was finally overthrown. The bulk of the paper explores six key interrelated aspects of the contemporary Nicaraguan political and economic situation:

  • The manner in which Nicaragua is ruled.
  • The ideology of the Sandinist National Liberation Front and the ideological clash with other groups and parties who oppose, to some degree, the Sandinists.
  • The economic problems and policies in post-Somoza Nicaragua.
  • Class relations and class struggle.
  • Exterior influences on the revolution and the relationship with the United States.
  • Cultural and social transformations and problems under the revolution.

A concluding section raises the issue of socialism, recognizing that contemporary Nicaragua is not socialist but that there is a strong commitment by the leadership to a socialist transformation of the economy at some future date. Four short appendices present translations of key political statements by the Sandinists, two political parties critical of Sandinist policies, and the Catholic Church.


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