Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. by Michel Gobat

By Michel Gobat

Michel Gobat deftly interweaves political, fiscal, cultural, and diplomatic background to research the reactions of Nicaraguans to U.S. intervention of their state from the heyday of appear future within the mid–nineteenth century in the course of the U.S. career of 1912–33. Drawing on broad study in Nicaraguan and U.S. records, Gobat money owed for 2 seeming paradoxes that experience lengthy eluded historians of Latin the United States: that Nicaraguans so strongly embraced U.S. political, financial, and cultural kinds to shield their very own nationality opposed to U.S. imposition and that the country’s wealthiest and such a lot Americanized elites have been remodeled from major supporters of U.S. imperial rule into a few of its maximum opponents.

Gobat focuses totally on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, as the energy and id of those Nicaraguans have been the main considerably laid low with U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of points of “the American lifestyle” within the mid–nineteenth century as strategic instead of wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. profession of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American flip of Nicaragua’s such a lot Americanized oligarchs stemmed principally from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to unfold their very own model of the yankee dream. partially, the oligarchs’ reversal mirrored their pain over the Twenties upward thrust of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and different “vices of modernity” emanating from the us. however it additionally answered to the accidental ways in which U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord energy. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. profession so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino uprising of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.


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Complicating matters, elite conflicts fueled the rise of peasant movements that posed grave challenges to the existing social order. ≤≤ These revolts sprang largely from popular wrath over e√orts of the nascent state to expand its power over the lower classes by imposing new taxes, regulating the commercialization of common goods, increasing demands for labor, and curbing the political autonomy of rural communities. Centered in the Pacific zone, the popular revolts drove Nic- 26 . m a n i f e s t d e s t i n i e s , 1 8 4 9 – 1 9 1 0 aragua’s warring elites to join forces for the very first time.

Military action in Nicaragua—the 1854 bombardment of San Juan del Norte—in order to resolve a conflict with local boatmen and authorities. The company also refused to pay the Nicaraguan government the 10 percent royalty on its annual 24 . m a n i f e s t d e s t i n i e s , 1 8 4 9 – 1 9 1 0 profits stipulated by the original contract. Ω In particular, they hindered state authorities from pressing peasants into military service; in exchange, the company gained privileged access to much-needed laborers.

Of course, there was one key di√erence: In Walker’s Americanized Nicaragua there was no 35 . a m e r i c a n i z at i o n t h r o u g h v i o l e n c e place for native elites. Walker never realized his ideal state. He even failed to implement his most infamous decree, the establishment of a slave regime. Yet this did not prevent Walker and his men from unleashing a violent attack against the Nicaraguan elite. Time and again, the filibusters justified their antielite attack as a struggle for the ‘‘regeneration’’ of Nicaragua.

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