None of us are pure white doves, but we are all compañeros: corruption and the remaking of democracy in post-revolutionary Nicaragua Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Parson, Maya Chloé
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • This dissertation examines the meaning of corruption in the context of contemporary Nicaraguan political history, including the neoliberal economic and political reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s and the new socialism of re-elected Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. Based on ethnographic research with community and municipal leaders, civil-society organizers, and former and current Sandinista party supporters, I examine popular feelings, ideas, and practices about political corruption. I argue that Nicaraguan sentiments about corruption have resulted in a post-revolutionary redefinition of the meaning of politics, one that challenges historically constructed notions of leadership, participation and democracy. I begin by examining how - in the context of the perceived corruption of Sandinista revolutionary ethics and the concomitant corruption scandals surrounding anti-Sandinista leaders - some Nicaraguans have come to reject party and other forms of official politics because they see such politics (la política) as synonymous with corruption. I then look ethnographically at how anti-corruption efforts and political reforms promulgated by neoliberal policymakers - which typically emphasize individual autonomy and responsibility, political pluralism, and non-partisan democratic participation - resonate for many Nicaraguans, including many Sandinistas and former Sandinistas. At the same time, however, I show how powerful tensions continue to exist between the ideals of revolutionary socialism and peoples' experiences of post-revolutionary neoliberalism. I suggest that Nicaraguan community and political leaders, such as those I studied in the city of León, are attracted to the purification of official politics seemingly offered by neoliberal policies, but have reworked and transformed - indeed, corrupted - such politics, creating at times paradoxical hybrid political cultures that simultaneously invoke and critique the spirit of the Sandinista revolution and the democratic liberalism of neoliberal ideology.
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  • Cadena, Marisol de la
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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