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The resources below have been selected to support the University of Portland's Nicaragua Immersion program. The annotations are drawn from a variety of review and summary sources.
History. (2009). In Nicaragua Country Review, 6-8.
Provides an overview of the pre-colonial, colonialism and independence history of Nicaragua.
Human rights. (2009). In Nicaragua Country Review, 30-32.
Provides an overview of the human rights in Nicaragua.
Political conditions. (2009). In Nicaragua Country Review, 8-22.
Provides information on the political conditions of Nicaragua including its political roots, the Alemán administration and the administration of Bolanos Geyer.
White, S. F., & Calderón, E. (2008). Culture and customs of Nicaragua. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Culture and Customs of Nicaragua introduces students and general readers to Nicaragua's unique blend of religious and traditional holidays, so numerous that the country is said to be in a constant state of celebration; its growing film industry; its many styles of dance, the popular "street theatre" open to all bystanders; important contributions to Spanish literature, local cuisines, architecture, social norms, and more. Readers learn what it is like to live in one of Latin America's most disillusioned countries but also discover the passionate culture that defines and sustains the Nicaraguan people.
World Trade Press. (2010). Nicaragua - the global road warrior.
An online database of country profiles which include business culture, social customs, health and medical information, and more. Choose Nicaragua from the main screen to see its report.
Bacon, C. M. (2008). Confronting the coffee crisis: Can fair trade, organic, and specialty coffees reduce the vulnerability of small-scale farmers in northern Nicaragua? In C. M. Bacon (Ed.), Confronting the coffee crisis: Fair trade, sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems in Mexico and Central America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Our morning cups of coffee connect us to a global industry and an export crisis in the tropics that is destroying livelihoods, undermining the cohesion of families and communities, and threatening ecosystems. Confronting the Coffee Crisis explores small-scale farming, the political economy of the global coffee industry, and initiatives that claim to promote more sustainable rural development in coffee-producing communities. Contributors review the historical, political, economic, and agroecological processes within today's coffee industry and analyze the severely depressed export market that faces small-scale growers in Mexico and Central America. The book presents a series of interdisciplinary, empirically rich case studies showing how small-scale farmers manage ecosystems and organize collectively as they seek useful collaborations with international NGOs and coffee companies to create opportunities for themselves in the coffee market. The findings demonstrate the interconnections among farmer livelihoods, biodiversity, conservation, and changing coffee markets. Additional chapters examine alternative trade practices, certification, and eco-labeling, discussing the politics and market growth of organic, shade-grown, and Fair Trade coffees.
Belli, G. (2002). The country under my skin: A memoir of love and war. New York, NY: Knopf.
Belli, author of the acclaimed novel The Inhabited Woman (1994), could have simply enjoyed the benefits of upper-class Nicaraguan life as a young wife and mother, but privileged domesticity could not contain her questing spirit. She soon launched a successful advertising career in Managua, found her soul mates among writers and revolutionaries, and became both a celebrated poet and a Sandinista, risking her life in her country's fight for freedom. Belli's dramatic and heroic story is an epic of liberation both personal and communal, and she chronicles her harrowing experiences with magnetic candor and lithe lyricism, sharing her insider's view of the Sandinistas' hard-won, tragically brief victory and the wrenching anguish of their annihilation thanks to Reagan and Bush and the Iran-Contra debacle. Motherhood and love affairs under fire, gun running and media work, poetry prizes and exile, and ceaseless combat against misogyny and despair, Belli's powerfully told story reveals the symbiotic give-and-take of body and soul, art and politics, and altruism and pragmatism that make up the human continuum. A tribute to beauty, valor, and justice, Belli's giving and clarion book is also an antidote to fear and apathy, and a reminder that freedom is always a work in progress.
Foroohar, M. (1989). The Catholic church and social change in Nicaragua. Albany: State University of New York Press. Foroohar (California Polytechnic State University) analyzes the interaction between the Catholic Church and Nicaraguan social structures, from the Spanish intrusion to the 1979 revolution. Chapter 1 presents a broad sketch of events to 1936. The next two chapters describe the economic transformation from agriculture to industrialization in the 1960s, establish the socioeconomic basis of recent sociopolitical problems, and show how these strains affected the Church. Three chapters on liberation theology, the 1972 earthquake, and relations between the Sandinista movement and "progressive" clergy, carry the story through the Somoza regime to 1977. A cycle of oppression, protest, intensified repression, and increased radicalization of protest describes a narrowing spiral of events that pulled the Church into the social turmoil, with a growing split between conservative and progressive factions. Foroohar's last chapter focuses on the intensified political conflict preceding the FSLN takeover in mid-1979. Although an apparent unity emerged in the Church about the need to oust Somoza, the underlying class struggle remained unresolved.
Gobat, M. (2005). Confronting the American dream: Nicaragua under U.S. imperial rule. Durham: Duke University Press.
Gobat (Univ. of Iowa) has crafted an impressively researched and skillfully written analysis of Nicaragua's political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history during the US interventions from the mid-19th century to 1933. His captivating work explores the transformation of Nicaraguan elites from supporters of "Americanization" in Nicaragua to rejection of this development model. Nineteenth-century Nicaraguan elites, who initially saw the US as the standard of "liberal institutions and practices," rejected the liberal direction for more conservative concerns during the US intervention from 1912 to 1933. During this occupation, elites led by the conservative faction called the "Caballeros Catolicos" rejected Americanization because they saw the US presence threatening Catholicism, the "honorable lifestyle of its women," and the status of elite power, all the while portraying Nicaragua and its people as primitive. As Gobat convincingly portrays, the depth of elite dissatisfaction with the US manifested itself when Nicaraguan elites initially aligned with the revolutionary Augustino Sandino, and later supported the 1979 revolution against the Somoza dictatorship. In a fascinating conclusion, Gobat portrays how the abuse of US power in Nicaragua provides a devastating lens through which to examine contemporary examples of US foreign policy.
Griffin-Nolan, E. (1991). Witness for peace: A story of resistance. Louisville, KY: Westminster/J. Knox Press.
The Witness for Peace (WFP) movement grew out of the commitment of some U.S. citizens to halt their government's support for the Nicaraguan contras in the bloody war against the Sandinista government. From 1983 to 1990, nearly 4000 Witness participants visited war zones, most for short stays, others for protracted periods. By placing themselves in villages vulnerable to assault, Witnesses hoped to prevent contra attacks. They also placed great emphasis on the power of prayer and on the power of the press to bring pressure on the U.S. government to withdraw support for the contras. In their own words WFP participants describe how their experiences changed their lives. Descriptions of the reactions of Nicaraguan campesinos to the arrival of vehicles laden with yellow-shirted gringos are insightful and often humorous.
Horton, L. (1998). Peasants in arms: War and peace in the mountains of Nicaragua, 1979-1994. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
Quilali, a rural community in the heart of Nicaragua's mountainous interior, is also the center of a war zone that has seen ongoing conflict since the 1980s. Drawing on the testimonies of local people, from contra collaborators and ex-combatants to pro-Sandinista peasants, this dynamic account of a generation of rural instability explores the growing divisions between the peasants who took up arms in defense of revolutionary programs and ideals, such as land reform and equality, and those who opposed the Sandinistas. Peasants in Arms details the role of local elites in organizing the first anti-Sandinista uprising in 1980 and their subsequent rise to positions of field command in the contras. It then explores the internal factors that led a majority of peasants to turn against the revolution and examines the ways in which the military draft and family and community pressures reinforced conflict and undermined Sandinista policy shifts that attempted to win back peasant support.
Kagan, R. (1996). A twilight struggle: American power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990. New York, NY: Free Press.
Kagan's ambitious book constitutes a frame-by-frame record and analysis of the tortuous relationship of the US government to the unfolding Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, through the presidencies of Carter, Reagan, and Bush. The author, who served in the Reagan State Department, has had access to mountainous documentation and relevant personalities, allowing him to weave a careful narrative that integrates the twists and turns of political events in Central America and the US alike with judicious appraisals of the evolving policies of the many actors. Despite his own participation in this "twilight struggle," the author maintains a high standard of historical objectivity, something hitherto lacking in most writing on the Sandinista revolution. For this reason as well as for its comprehensiveness, this book will probably become and remain a classic work and source of reference on Nicaraguan history and US foreign policy during the era it covers.
Kinzer, S. (1991). Blood of brothers: Life and war in Nicaragua. New York, NY: Putnam.
Kinzer served in Central America first in the 1970s as a freelance journalist and later as a New York Times bureau chief in Managua (1983-89). An eyewitness to events, he interviewed members of the Somoza, Sandinista, and contra hierarchies. As a result, he provides a highly objective and balanced assessment of events that led to the fall of the Somoza government in 1979. Kinzer avoids ideological bias, but he does note that the Sandinistas came to power because ``those most likely to shed blood are the most likely to triumph.'' Yet despite their many shortcomings, he concludes ``the Sandinistas at least provided a basis upon which a genuine democracy could be built.'' An example of public affairs journalism at its best, his book will stand as the definitive study of Nicaragua in the turbulent 1980s.
Littín, M. (Director), Littín, H. (Producer), Instituto Nicaragüense de Cine and Pacific Arts Video (Firm). (1986). Alsino y el condor = Alsino and the condor [VHS]. Beverly Hills, CA: Pacific Arts Video.
Set in Nicaragua, this film depicts the clash between Central American governments and Sandinista rebels. It is the story of a boy's dream of flying above the madness of the world around him.
Meiselas, S., Rogers, R. P., Guzzetti, A. (Directors). (2007). Pictures from a revolution. [DVD]. New York, NY: Docurama Films.
In this discourse on the power of images, photojournalist Susan Meiselas returns to the scenes of a revolution she witnessed and captured with her camera in war-torn Nicaragua in the late 70s and 80s. Delving into the lives of guerrillas, Sandinistas, and bystanders a decade after they faced off in a bloody struggle, this film finds both disappointment and modest pride amidst still-fresh, stirring memories. Once photographed wielding contact bombs and marching in the streets, these incredible Nicaraguans now live much as they did before the revolutionary days.
Dicum, G. (2009). Destination: THE JAVA ZONE. Sierra, 94(1), 36-107.
This article reports on the environmental aspects of the coffee industry in Nicaragua. The article discusses coffee as a colonial crop and its success in tropical Central America. The biologically diverse region is home to thousands of plant and animal species, including many that are threatened or endangered. This biodiversity serves as an attraction to eco-tourists. Information is also provided on the Rainforest Alliance program, fair-trade coffee, deforestation, and the environmental impact of coffee growing.
Utting-Chamorro, K. (2005). Does fair trade make a difference? The case of small coffee producers in Nicaragua. Development in Practice, 15(4), 584-599.
Fair trade represents an innovative approach to make the rules of global trade work for disadvantaged producers in the South and for sustainable development. But who are the real beneficiaries of fair trade? Has fair trade resulted in any discernible improvements in the lives of small coffee producers and their communities? This paper examines the effectiveness of fair trade as a development tool and the extent of its contribution to the alleviation of poverty in coffee-producing regions of Nicaragua. The paper argues that it is crucial to analyse the experiences and problems of small coffee producers and producer organisations involved in the fair trade market to ensure that the objectives and claims of fair trade are achieved in practice. The study concludes that there are limits to the extent to which fair trade can significantly raise the standard of living of small coffee producers because of factors such as the debt problems faced by cooperatives, lack of government support, and volatile international coffee prices.
World Health Organization. 2014. Nicaragua. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/countries/nic/en/
Presents health statistics and reports for Nicaragua.
Seeds of learning. Retrieved from http://www.seedsoflearning.org/
Seeds of Learning is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities in rural Latin America. We work with North Americans and Central Americans to build and equip schools in Nicaragua and El Salvador, educate children and adults, and promote cross cultural understanding.
Witness for peace. Retrieved from http://www.witnessforpeace.org/
Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.