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NICARAGUA: A REVOLUTION IN CRISIS Arturo Cruz Sequeira, Jr. to Iicaraguan society underwent significant changes in the thirty years between the end of World War II and the victory of the Sandinistas in July 1979. The Nicaraguan economy sustained rates of growth superior to those of the rest of Latin America, while the country's real per-capita income doubled and its export structure was substantially diversified. In addition, the creation of the Central American Common Market prompted the emergence of a manufacturing sector in Nicaragua . The population gradually shifted to urban areas so that, by 1979, 53 percent of the Nicaraguan population was living in or around cities—a development that, in turn, resulted in the growth ofa small working class without a history of class struggle. The middle class expanded in response to government activities and other services, while the so-called informal sector, which comprised numerous family enterprises, practically burgeoned. In the countryside, Nicaragua's concentration on exportoriented production generated only a limited rural proletariat—in contrast to the case of El Salvador. This rural proletariat arose principally in the regions of León and Chinandega and lived side by side with small farmers, who were by far the majority. By 1979 Nicaragua's social profile was at once simple and complex. Although a rural and urban proletariat had in fact emerged, small entrepreneurs were far more numerous, while the Indian enclaves of Monimbo and Subtiava dedicated themselves to the production of crafts, in spite of the opportunities of a modernized economy. On the Atlantic Arturo Cruz Sequeira, Jr., a former Sandinista official, is a doctoral candidate at SAIS. He writes frequently for the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. 91 92 SAIS REVIEW coast, the Miskito Indians remained isolated from changes taking place on the Pacific. It is interesting to note that neither the working class nor the peasantry participated as unified classes in the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship. Instead, factory closedowns—so effective in the struggle against Somoza—were instigated by factory owners, business leaders, or public employees, such as health workers, who were led by "reformist trade unions." Youths, regardless of their social origins, became the new revolutionary force in the barrios and in the schools and universities. The war was eminently urban. Somoza's violence was felt with far greater intensity in the cities than along the Atlantic coast or in the countryside. The Sandinista victory certainly cannot be attributed to the superiority of its organization. It owed more to courage, rhetoric, and symbols than to control of the trade unions or the establishment of a party: The Sandinista National Liberation Front (fsln) captured the popular imagination through simple daring. The exclusivist nature of the Somoza regime in its last years, together with the moderate political discourse of the fsln, also worked to create a broadly based alliance against the dictatorship. In the process, the fsln leaders displayed a tactical flexibility that was also evident later on in their strategy vis-à-vis the establishment of a Socialist society. If the Sandinista vanguard insists, however, on following Comandante Henry Ruiz's dictum to be "tactically flexible and strategically intransigent," the very plurality of forces that brought the Sandinistas to power will become the principal obstacle to achieving this Socialist society. The Sandinista's original economic model favored a mixed economy; one more progressive than the economies of Costa Rica or even European countries. The state was to take control of the "commanding heights" of the economy and would also function as the principal pole of capital formation. Following this logic, it was considered necessary to nationalize banks and foreign trade so as to guarantee the social character of the economy and to establish the dominance of the state sector in agriculture and industry. The objective was to achieve a gradual but effective transition toward a Socialist economy. The new government's other objectives were to achieve capital formation and equitable social distribution; to obtain adequate capital inflows, taking advantage of the favorable international attitudes toward the new regime; and to reduce dependence on foreign capital by diversifying products and markets. This last goal proved to be redundant...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-4724
Print ISSN
1945-4716
Pages
pp. 91-97
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
No
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