Nicaragua: Surviving the Effects of U.S. Policy

Your family’s home goes up in flames as screams pierce the air. You hear gunshots ring out as you watch your little sister fall to the ground. The bridge across town collapses into a loud, thunderous boom as los contras march through the dilapidated streets.

This has been the reality of Nicaraguans since the civil war began in the 1980s.


Pamela Fitzpatrick and Paul Dix are speaking at CSU about the effects of U.S. policy in Nicaragua. They recently published Nicaragua: Surviving the Effects of U.S. Policy, which features photos and testimonies of war survivors. They will be talking in the Behavioral Sciences Building in room 103 from 4 – 5 p.m.

“I was in Nicaragua as a photojournalist, documenting the impacts of the war on civilians and the U.S.-sponsored counter-revolutionary war,” explained Paul Dix, co-author of the book and one of the guest speakers.

Both he and Fitzpatrick seek to explain the crucial aspects of the civil war in Nicaragua and the impact that the United States had during that time.

“Central America is the backyard of the United States,” said Elena Komar, CSU’s Spanish club adviser and professor.

Prior to 1979, Anastacio Somoza was the leader of Nicaragua and was elected by the United States to act in the best interests of both countries.

“He was corrupt and very brutal,” Dix said. “Anybody that opposed his regime was tortured, killed or disappeared — it was universally accepted that he was one of the most brutal dictators in the western hemisphere and the United States was supporting him.”

He had a long regime as the leader of Nicaragua, but met resistance in 1979 when the sandinistas, another political party, took over. During their time in power, they passed many reforms to benefit the people, including a health care reform and a preferential reform for the poor, according to Dix.

“The sandinistas were doing quite well, but very early in the 1980s, President Reagan decided that they were Communists — he became obsessed with getting rid of the sandinistas,” Dix said.

After that, the United States created a proxy army called los contras that had a base in the neighboring country of Honduras.

Los contras were trained by the United States to go into Nicaragua and incite a civil war. The war lasted ten years and ended in 1990. Dix said Nicaragua is still rebuilding their infrastructure, their economy and their country today.


“Latin America has some good complaints — they definitely have much to be irksome about with the United States,” said Martin Widzer, U.S. foreign policy professor at CSU.

Nicaragua is still dealing with the aftermath of the United States’ intervention. According to Dix, the event will focus on the victims of the war whose testimonies are featured in his book. Students are encouraged to attend.

“I think it is a good experience for students because many of them have no idea that people struggle every day for minimal things to survive,” Komar said. “We are very lucky living in this country.”

Collegian Entertainment Editor Amanda Zetah can be reached at Follow her on twitter at @azetah17.