Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British and American Presence

Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British and American Presence

Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British and American Presence

Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British and American Presence

Synopsis

Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore provides a general history of eastern Nicaragua from the time of the first British entry in 1633 to the present. The territory is populated chiefly by Mosquito Indians, who speak their own language and some Mosquito. Separated from Nicaragua's Pacific plain by mountains, the Atlantic coastal plain extends between 70 and 100 miles into the interior. Early Spanish settlers were ousted by the British, who engaged in the mahogany trade, and who also hoped for trade with Americans seeking a short route to California. In 1850, with the signing of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, the U. S. and Britain agreed that neither country would seek to acquire exclusive control over a Nicaraguan canal. Plans for the development of a Nicaraguan canal had a marked influence on the region for the next 100 years. During the second half of the 19th century both rubber and bananas were produced commercially in eastern Nicaragua, and the Standard Fruit Company of New Orleans became the larges single commercial influence in the region. The first over American intervention in eastern Nicaragua occurred in 1912, when a contingent of Marines was dispatched to protect American commercial interests. The Marines remained for thirteen years. Dozier develops the history of the current political troubles in Nicaragua, which had their origin in the early 1930s and which center about the control of the rich area inhabited by the Mosquitos. His book presents the historical background for the tragic events that are now taking place in that region.

Excerpt

I first visited eastern Nicaragua in 1957, after a lengthy trip down the San Juan River in a motorized flatboat, pulling barges loaded with empty coconut-oil drums. With that visit began a lasting interest in this unique part of Latin America, for I have always been fascinated by obscure corners of the world which were not once so--with places that have a history, if they seem to have no present. The result, many years later, is this book, which is intended to be a narrative of the years of foreign presence in this once- important region: the stimuli, and economic and political relationships, the international rivalry, the problems, the ways of life, the events, the people and their perceptions.

My objective throughout has been to emphasize the internal history of the region (a rather neglected segment) through extensive use of British and American archival sources and other firsthand accounts, while placing this history within the framework of the better-known external political and economic relations. In the concluding chapter, the narrative is brought up to the present and the region depicted as foreign influence faded.

When the manuscript was begun, there seemed little likelihood that the region would gain prominence in modern-day affairs. The foreign interlude had ended and the Nicaraguan revolution had not yet come. However, with the coming of the Sandinista regime to power, the east has new relevance. Of all regions of the country, its inhabitants have proved most resistant to the new revolutionary government and its policies. Despite top-priority efforts by the government, they have remained unassimilated, and constitute a major element of the opposition. Consequently, despite its small population and undeveloped economy, the region has commanded an uncommon amount of attention from the Sandinistas, and the reasons are not difficult to find. The government has become painfully aware that this is a "soft spot" in its aim to unite the country behind its socialist objectives.

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