In The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie, there are numerous political events that are described with vivid detail. Keep in mind that during the time period of this book, the world was in a bipolar state due to the cold war. Bipolar meaning two hegemons (major powers) with the rest of countries choosing between one or the other. One political event includes the fall of the Somoza dynasty which reigned from 1927 to 1979. It was described as a hereditary dictatorship and was “dethroned” in 1979 by the Sandinista Revolution.
The editor of the newspaper “La Penca,” Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal was assassinated and it is assumed that it was due to Cardenal being a key opponent towards Somoza. Additionally, Reagan funded the infamous “Contras” which was an anti-communist guerilla group.
The Reagan Doctrine was pursued which states, ‘We will provide overt and covert aid to anti-communist guerrillas and resistance movements in an effort to roll back Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
” Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America spent over 400 million USD funding the Contras and an additional 400 million USD trying to buy off Nicaragua’s neighbors. The funding and support of La Contra was in strict and obvious violation of international law. International law is described as the formal rules of conduct that states acknowledge or contract between themselves. In 1976, founder of the Sandinistas Carlos Fonseca was assassinated as stated by Vianca.com. Somoza televised across the country the surrounding and soon murder of Julio, which was intended to be a lesson to not mess with the Somoza dynasty however after Julio ran out shooting and holding off an army of artillery and tanks, it was learned that the real lesson was that resistance is possible.
The United States also engaged in an economic blockade which cost over 2 billion dollars in Nicaragua.
In an article published by the International League for Human Rights Repression, it was stated that Nicaragua is not as bloody as other Central American states which is a ludicrous claim to make when people are still suffering immensely regardless of their comparison to other neighbors. To continue, Nicaragua armed campesinos (peasants) with AK47s to prepare for the “imminent” US invasion. Food shortages plagued larger cities like Managua (the capital) and Leon. The USSR (Soviet Republic of Russia) influenced Nicaragua and was soon considered in the United States eyes as a communist stronghold. Inflation rose to up to 500%. If you really think about it, however, the American Revolution for independence is quite similar to the Sandinista revolution, both revolutions wanted to be more responsive to the people’s desires. It is also stated by Rushdie, “All countries have the right to censor the press during wartime.”
The end of the revolution is best summarized as so, “In 1988, after a strong attack of the national government against the Contras, peace negotiations started to take place. In 1989, the Sandinista government signed an agreement that stated that elections where going to be held the following year. In those elections, the Sandinistas were overpowered against all expectations.” To draw conclusions on the central themes, (major political events) Nicaragua went through hell and back and was in no doubt used as a pawn. Most importantly, the patterns of political behavior, how the United States behavior affected politics in Nicaragua, and my political analysis will be included in this section. A separate paragraph for the latter two. The patterns of political behavior vary quite evidently. One catalyst for the revolution which was the decrease in national security which is the sense that the government will be able to secure the survival of the country through the use of power.
The behavior of the people of Nicaragua would influence politics as well. The Sandinista Revolution was an attempt to change the structures of society to improve the lives of its citizens. Nicaragua’s political behavior also included the intense nationalism that was evident in most parts of the country. A key behavior was the use of the theory of security dilemma, (increasing one’s defense forces others to increase theirs). This behavior is shown where they arm campesino’s (peasants) to prepare for the invasion by the United States and La Contra. Nicaragua also limited their freedom of speech and press which can surely impact politics. Political behavior by the US included the use of proxy wars, funding anti-communist guerillas that opposed the Sandinistas to fight them for the Americans. The US also showed their political behavior by breaking international law and still proceeded to do what was illegal. The United States made an economic blockade on Nicaragua and cut off shipments of things as simple as farming equipment. And finally, to end it all off, Augusto Sandino was killed after the peace treaty between the Sandinistas and the Contra on his way home.
The United States had a semi-liberal behavior because they were trying to enforce democracy onto Nicaragua because from a liberal perspective more democracies can only mean more peace. The Political Behavior of the United States affected politics in Nicaragua in many ways. For one, Politicians in Nicaragua used the United States and other foreign powers as examples in their speeches for who did the horrible things to Nicaragua, which is partially true in some circumstances but not completely. The United States political behavior also impacted Nicaragua’s politics by making Nicaraguan politics more nationalistic. People would chant slogans like they were rally cries for football games. Another impact in Nicaragua’s politics is that they favored the USSR far more than the USA. This is mostly because after all the USA has done, while the USSR has aided them (although it was mostly to make Nicaragua a puppet of sorts) and done numerous benefits for the country. The national security in Nicaragua was also really high at the time due to their constant expanse of a military in any way possible (like arming civilians).
Nicaragua also censored its press during wartime, mostly in my opinion at least, to prevent the United States from learning too much and to also prevent Nicaraguans from losing hope in the revolution. Politics in Nicaragua seemed to more and more communist and proved to fear the USA because they would expect a domino effect to occur. If Nicaragua became communist, then other nations in Central America would soon follow their steps. Overall, the United States greatly impacted how politics in Nicaragua were carried out and also how people responded and reacted to the new wave of politics. Finally, in my analysis, the political events occurred because of two International Relations theories: Realism and Neo-Marxism. From a realist point of view numerous events that occurred like for example, the economic sanction was a strategic maneuver by the US to cut off Nicaragua’s imports and exports in order to make the country weaker. Another realistic perspective can be why Nicaragua sided with the USSR instead of the US. First off, the world as it is during the time period is in a bipolar state.
Where two nations are hegemons while others are their “minions”. The Sandinista Revolution made Nicaragua moved from the United States to the Soviet Republic, the revolution, of course, was due to the atrocities caused by the Somoza hereditary dictatorship those of which the United States had no care for. A realist can also say that the reason for the United States threatening intervention was solely to try to bring the world into a unipolar state, being one hegemon. As you can tell with realism, ones actions is purely to maximize their own self-interest and enforce rules over other states which is exactly what the United States of America was and still is doing to this modern day. Neo-marxism is evident throughout the story and in Nicaragua. Neo-marxism provides (not just only) a better understanding of social inequality.
Which was proven where a group of farmers issues were somewhat resolved with the National Agrarian Reform Day stated in the story where “land titles for no less than 70,000 acres to be handed out to campesinos, 2 million acres were handed out to 100,000 families.” Neo-marxism also explains the core and periphery countries. Core being industrialized nations which the majority being capitalist while the periphery countries are underdeveloped and considered to have weak state institutions. This affected Nicaragua because the United States had the idea to make Nicaragua a capitalist country but forced it way too much which resulted in the La Contra War. Nicaragua was underdeveloped, and in 1972, an earthquake destroyed 90% of the capital cities buildings, leaving Nicaragua as a whole in dismay and shambles.
Neo-marxism provides the explanation for numerous actions taken by the Sandinistas like stated numerous times in this excerpt, the censorship of the press. Realism and neo-marxism explain the countless political events and can provide and in-depth look on the other courses of action that both Nicaragua and the United States could have taken to avoid such war and disgrace. In conclusion, the book “The Jaguar Smile” by Salman Rushdie included tons upon tons of political events that plagued and affected Nicaragua both positively and negatively. Patterns of political behavior like manipulation and proxy wars were also revealed in the book not to mention the domestic consequences of the behavior of the United States onto the politics of Nicaragua.
Realism and Neo-Marxism theories were shown throughout the story and can also explain how the Sandinista’s rise to power was similar to the Cuban Revolution and surprisingly the American Revolution against the British. The Jaguar Smile is a book that details the events in Nicaragua in vivid detail and provides the reader with an understanding of not only what went on but what led to the numerous political events and how it appeared to a person who was simply visiting the country. A good read, and an even better understanding.