During the 1980s, Americans ranging from Congressmen to political pilgrims tended to view and deal with Nicaragua's Sandinistas and the Contra War according to their own personal and political agendas. The Civil War in Nicaragua Is unique among the dozens of books on these events, because it gives an inside view of what was going on, how and why policies were made by Nicaragua's new clique of nine, and what Impact those policies had on Nicaragua, the United States, and beyond.
With their seizure of power in 1979, the Sandinistas had an unprecedented opportunity to improve the lot of the Nicaraguan people. How they ultimately betrayed their countrymen and left the region worse off than they found It Is the hidden story related here. Miranda and Ratliff locate the source of failure and betrayal in three critical factors: absolute power and oppression of the nine-man National Directorate; the unnecessary, ideologically driven conflict with the United States; and statist economics pursued to reward support and suppress dissent.
The authors divide their analysis into six parts. The first discusses the Sandinistas' institutional structures and controlling personalities, with an emphasis on the Ortega brothers. The second focuses on the Sandinistas' world view and use of deception to achieve their objectives, and on their allies, in particular Cuba and the Soviet Union. The third scrutinizes their attitudes to and relations with the United States. The next two discuss the institutional framework of domestic control and the Sandinista doctrines of war and peace that were played out In the Contra War.
Miranda and Ratliff conclude with an analysis of factors leading to the collapse of the Saridinista regime. Its ouster in the free elections of 1990, and the early years of the Chamorro government. As this volume makes clear, the crisis in Nicaragua has not ended with the Cold War. Many contradictions remain. And sound American policy is still necessary to further the growth of democracy there and throughout Latin America. The Civil War in Nicaragua will be essential reading for policymakers, historians, and political scientists.