Nicaragua’s tumultuous political history reflects the dramatic impacts that differing perspectives on property rights and resource governance can have on the structure and performance of societies and economies. The Somoza regimes that governed Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979 emphasized the primacy of private property rights and the pursuit of an export market-oriented, large-scale commercial agriculture. These policies resulted in an economy in which rural land ownership was concentrated in the hands of relatively few Nicaraguans who operated farms producing coffee, cotton, sugar, tobacco, and beef for export, largely to the United States.
Residents of the northern highlands of Nicaragua were typically overlooked by modern infrastructure development. The Association of Rural Development Workers has changed this, securing access to electricity and clean drinking water for local people for the first time.
Global climate negotiations take place on the international stage, bolstered by countries’ national policies. But preventing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and other land-use changes requires work at the local level.