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Women of the Nicaraguan Revolution During the second half of the 20th century Nicaragua saw more than its fair share of guerilla movements of both the Left and Right Extreme conditions dictatorship vicious poverty foreign intervention often produced extreme solutions And women were active participants in the search for solutions in Nicaragua In the case of the Sandinista guerilla movement of the 1960s and 1970s that would eventually topple the Somoza dictatorship the role of women is well known During the course of the Somoza regime Nicaragua was characterized by a progressively more unequal distribution of resources as peasants were pushed off their land to make room for agro-export production So many poor farmers were pushed off their land that by 1978 shortly before the overthrow of Somoza more than three quarters of the economically active population engaged in agriculture could be classified as landless andor poor Mason 68 This had the effect of putting downward pressure on wages especially as the main cash crops cotton and coffee were not very labor intensive except during harvest Many who had formerly been middle class peasants found that they had become poor peasants forced to compete for jobs on the plantations of large landowners A fixed demand for workers combined with a rising supply meant that wages were dropping but food prices were rising creating an end to the countrys self-sufficiency in food Enriquez 62 But despite the growi ng misery of the majority in macroeconomic terms Nicaragua was a success story One of the most sustained runs of capitalist growth in the entire postwar period generated some of the periods most widespread and brutal impoverishment In other words it was not the failure of capitalist development that provided the economic ingredient for revolution-it was its success Enriquez 79 Individual women responded to the structural crisis in various ways One way was to migrate from the countryside to more urban areas in search of work In
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