NICARAGUA (before 1990 and after)

I first went to Nicaragua in February 1987 to take part in the coffee harvest, and I returned 5 other times before the elections of 1990 (I was also there during the elections and since). The economic blocade imposed by the U. S. against revolutionary Nicaragua during the period prior to the elections was evident everwhere, from the hospitals to the markets.

The blocade did generate, in a positive sense, a greater level of self-sufficiency, which included the increased use of natural herbal medicines, to the reliance upon local production of toys and dolls for domestic consumption. You could find lemon grass tea in the pharmacy for your sore throat , and soft cloth dolls and sturdy, simple, wooden cars and trucks in the markets for gifts; produced internally and affordable.

After the Sandinistas were defeated in 1990 the U. S. quickly entered Nicaragua (now through the front door), with "new" school textbooks to replace any positive reference to the Sandinista Revolution which appeared in the existing texts, and with cheap plastic toys which soon flooded the markets.

I returned to Nicaragua about six months after the election and became painfully aware of the dramatic shift away from domestic production when I attempted to locate a soft cloth doll for a baby which was born to a family in Esteli with whom I was very close. I literally spent days going through what were once "familiar" markets only to find plastic dolls, cars, boats and trucks. I actually never did find a cloth doll in all my searching.

This experience, in such a small way, points to the far reaching impact of neo-liberal economic policies on the lives of people (in this instance especially with regards to the level of control and participation in the areas of production and consumption) within countries which acquiesce to the demands of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for export (and import) controls.

[To be expanded.]

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