Democracy Watch: Nicaragua

This book contains the journals of five Central Kentuckians who witnessed the use of the ballot box to displace the Sandinistas in the February 25th, 1990 elections. The daily entries record not only observations of election day itself but those of the event-filled week which preceded them.

The diaries show the group's Nicaraguan hosts as warm, open, generous and proud people. The journals also make it clear that the election process itself was without doubt honorable, "free and fair." The Kentucky observers raise questions, however, about the freedom of the overall election context itself. It was shaped, they point out, by the threat of a continued US economic embargo and of a prolonged contra war in the event of a Sandinista victory.

The cover photo, taken in 1985, shows a mural painted on a building in Leon, Nicaragua. The mural depicts voting as one ingredient among other democratic elements secured by the Sandinista Revolution. Those others include land reform, literacy training, housing programs, and the establishment of a popular army where mothers and fathers directly defend their children.

In the painting's center a red, white, and blue serpent representing the United States, bites the hand of a voter casting a ballot. The statement here is that the U.S. is often the enemy of democracy. It frequently uses the ballot box to undermine more important components of popular revolutions like the one in Nicaragua, which brought Sandinistas to power in 1979.

Copyright © 2002, Berea College
Updated 10/14/02


Information prepared by Mike Rivage-Seul,
Page maintained by Sandy Bolster.