The 1979 Sandinista revolution that toppled one of history's most long lived and brutal dictatorships launched Nicaragua into international attention. Over two decades later, after the U.S.-backed Contra counter-revolutionary war, the Sandinistas are back in power. Since the politically tumultuous 1970s and 1980s, life has not been easy in Nicaragua. Due to the misguided neoliberal economic agreements signed with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a majority of Nicaraguans find themselves without work, health care, education and other basic social services that were once provided during the revolutionary period. Some regions of Nicaragua have also been devastated in recent years by natural disasters, famine and a severe recession in the global coffee industry that has hit Nicaraguan campesinos especially hard.
Despite the hardships that they face, ordinary Nicaraguans have not given up hope and continue to struggle to improve their well-being. Understanding first-hand the dire consequences of adhering to the neoliberal economic model, Nicaraguans are currently resisting with their Central and South American neighbors against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
, Plan Puebla Panama (PPP)
and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)
. Today, women maquiladora workers and trade unionists are fighting for equality in export-led factories and struggling to organize unions in the country capital Managua's harsh sweatshop zones. Nicaraguan campesinos, especially in the coffee industry, are on the forefront of the economically transformative Fair Trade movement, which enables them to make a living wage from their locally owned crops, which support their families, maintain their community and sovereign connection to the land.