Confronting Revolution in Nicaragua: U.S. and Canadian Responses (Case Study #7)


This case considers the differences between U.S. policy toward Nicaragua and the policy of one of its closest allies, Canada. It includes an account of the Nicaragua elections held in February 1990 and gives special attention to the period 1977-1989—that is, the period of the Carter and Reagan administrations in the United States and the revolution and Sandinista rule in Nicaragua.

U.S. involvement in Nicaragua dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. By contrast, Canada largely ignored Nicaragua prior to the Sandinista revolution of 1979. Furthermore, while U.S. policy toward Nicaragua changed dramatically over this period, Canadian policy, despite changes in Canadian governments, remained remarkably consistent.

The most important difference between the policies of the two countries was that Canada did not support the U.S.-backed Contra rebels. This striking difference in policy rested on differing views of U.S. and Canadian decisions makers on the meaning of human rights and their place in foreign policy.

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