Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Conference ─ Nicaragua 1979 - 2019: The Sandinista Revolution After 40 Years

Thursday, May 2 –
Saturday, May 4, 2019

Playlist on Watson's YouTube Channel. Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street

The conference is free and open to the public. 

To register, please go to the conference registration page.

In 1979, a revolution led by Sandinista guerrillas overthrew an entrenched dynastic regime in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas promised land reform, universal literacy and health care, expanded rights for women and minority groups, and a government that would respond to basic needs in their impoverished country. They had been in power only a short time when the “contra” rebellion, encouraged and financed by the United States, emerged to challenge their power. During the 1980s Nicaragua became a Cold War battleground, with Washington, Havana, and Moscow jousting for power and influence. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans died in this conflict.

Forty years later, the revolution remains unresolved. What have been its victories? What have been its failures? What have been its unintended consequences? What are the sources of civil strife and political conflict that have led to a new crisis in Nicaragua today?

This conference brings together senior figures who shaped Nicaragua during the Sandinista era—politicians, diplomats, academics, public intellectuals, and journalists—to assess the revolution and its lessons, tell its stories, and leave a legacy for history.

Photo by Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photos

You may attend one or all discussions.

Thursday, May 2

6:00 -7:15  Keynote Presentation:  Mission Impossible?  Managua and Washington in the Early Years of Sandinista Power - Stephen Robert '62 Hall, 280 Brook Street, Room 101

Friday, May 3

8:30 – 10:00   Panel 1: The Sandinista Revolution and the Contra War in a Global Context

10:15 – 11:45 Panel 2: Commandantes: The Fog of the Contra War

1:30 – 3:00     Panel 3: The Press: The Revolution as a Force that Gives us Meaning?

3:15 – 4:45     Panel 4: Women & Ethnic Minorities: Did Revolution Change the Power Dynamic?

5:00 – 6:00     Panel 5: Making Peace and Democracy

Saturday, May 4
8:30 – 10:00   Panel 6: Literature of the Revolution
10:15 – 11:30 Plenary: Nicaragua Declassified: The Contra War in Ten Documents
11:30 – 1:00   Panel 7: A Revolutionary Balance Sheet: 1979 to 2019

To learn more about the conference presenters go to the biographies page.