The 1990 Elections and Democracy

  • David Ryan


Strictly interpreted, the Esquipulas process must be considered a failure. Yet ironically it brought a kind of peace, perhaps more accurately described by James Dunkerley as ‘pacification,’ because it averted a full scale war, confined it to low intensity conflict, and wound down, but could not halt, the killing. It must be regarded as a failed process for two more reasons: though the plan and its derivatives nominally referred to all five Central American countries, Nicaragua was really the only country under scrutiny. For this reason democratization and elections in the other four did not have to meet the same rigorous standards. Despite the numerous electoral monitors the key to ‘authentication’ was Washington’s approval, which undermined the self determination of the regional process. The Sandinistas subjected themselves to the extraordinary number of observers so Washington would have less credibility if they claimed the vote was unfair; 1984 could not occur again. The Sandinistas were scrupulous in ensuring they conceded on these provisions to meet their commitments under Esquipulas. The second major defect of the outcome was the failure to deliver the original trade off, democratization for demobilization. Quite simply the contras did not demobilize before the required dates and remained armed and active till after the election. The Sandinistas were never free of the terror committed against Nicaraguan citizens and were consequently inhibited from canvassing some rural areas. The continued conflict during the entire process deprived them of the ability to claim they were the party that had ended the war. Only Chamorro could hold out this promise.


Electoral Process Bush Administration Peace Process Central American Country Fair Election 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© David Ryan 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Historical and International StudiesDe Montfort UniversityLeicesterUK

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