Agrarian Reform and Class Consciousness in Nicaragua

Synopsis

"A major contribution.... Enréquez's knowledge of the region... is unparalleled among U. S. academics."--Rose Spalding, DePaul University

In Nicaragua, agrarian reform was central to the Sandinista government's development model. As the 1990 (and the 1996) election results show, however, other factors were at work in influencing the vote of the Nicaraguan peasantry. In this groundbreaking study, Laura Enréquez analyzes the political impact of agrarian reform by comparing the effects of several different reform strategies employed in Nicaragua between 1987 and 1994. She shows that the impact is often paradoxical: socioeconomic reforms which clearly benefit the peasantry do not necessarily result in political support for the regime that brought it about.
Case studies are based on extensive fieldwork in Nicaragua, both before and after the demise of the Sandinista government. Enréquez analyzes voting patterns and explores the tendency of the poorest sector of the peasantry to become involved in revolutionary movements. She also assesses the relevance of various positions within the theoretical literature on development and peasant politics. Finally, Enréquez compares the political impact of agrarian reforms in Nicaragua with those in Cuba, Chile, Vietnam, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kerala.
A thorough and fascinating study of an issue that is particularly timely given the 1996 Nicaraguan elections, this book will be of interest to Central American, international development, and political science scholars.

Laura J. Enréquez is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Harvesting Change: Labor and Agrarian Reform in Nicaragua, 1979-1990 (1991).