Managua—There are few visible signs that Nicaragua had a traumatic Revolution 30 years ago. The ever-present soldiers with their AK-47s are gone, along with their jeeps and trucks. Gone, too, are the billboards, posters, murals, and graffiti with the revolutionary exhortations of the Sandinistas. The newspaper Barricada (Barricade) has vanished and so have the plethora of magazines, pamphlets, and books devoted to political and economic change. More noticeable, Nicaraguans are relaxed, at ease. There is no “mobilization,” little talk of politics, and no expectation of imminent change. There is no sense, either, of danger.

The surprise is that otherwise, so little is different. Nicaragua has not undergone a metamorphosis. Except for being stripped of the material and emotional trappings of the Revolution, Nicaragua looks remarkably unchanged from the 1980s. While there are more people—the population has nearly doubled—Nicaraguans, too, say “nothing...

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