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Ill fares the land: the legal consequences of land confiscations by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua 1979-1990

Dille, Benjamin B. (2012) Ill fares the land: the legal consequences of land confiscations by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua 1979-1990. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis analyzes the consequences of property confiscations and redistribution under the Sandinista (FSLN) government in Nicaragua of the 1980s. It covers the period from the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979 to the February 1990 FSLN electoral defeat and the following two months of the Piñata, when the outgoing Sandinista government quickly formalized possession of property by new owners, both formerly landless peasants and the elite. It also examines subsequent efforts to resolve outstanding property claims, with the focus on the Chamorro and later presidential administrations to 2007, when Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega and the FSLN returned to power. The main argument is that Sandinista leaders, largely from the same families that have dominated Nicaragua since the Colonial period, followed Nicaraguan traditions of using influence to distort the legal and political system to gain title to valuable properties. In contrast to partisan arguments in favor of one regime or another, here the methods of property transfer are analyzed by investigating in detail documentary evidence of illustrative cases that show the steps and individuals involved in these transactions, as well as more generally surveying other cases and the overall situation with property. The argument is tested by examining how the selected claimants’ properties were taken and who obtained them. The results indicate that Sandinista elites did obtain properties for their personal benefit, often in violation of their own legislation, but that this was largely consistent with the practice of other, non- Sandinista governments. After their electoral defeat, ongoing Sandinista influence in the organs of government influenced the restitution process, with claimants typically settling for compensation at a fraction of the market value, with the Nicaraguan state and people bearing the cost of paying for compensation bonds over the coming decades. Political influence undermined the restitution mechanism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Benjamin B. Dille
Library of Congress subject classification: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Roberts, Simon and Flessas, Tatiana and Penner, James

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