racy in Nicaragua, its first "free" election. Few Americans remembered the 1984 election, and fewer still saw it as anything but a Soviet-style sham. According to the cold war schema, the election of "communists" cannot constitute democracy, as communism and democracy are mutually exclusive. The 1990 election in Nicaragua, like the 1982 election in El Salvador, was a cold war victory: The election became democratic as the "communists" lost. From the cold war perspective, the picture was clear: with America's help, democracy beat communism in Central America, just as it did in Eastern Europe.