Nicaraguan Americans

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Author: Stefan Smagula
Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
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Nicaraguan Americans

Stefan Smagula


Nicaraguan Americans are immigrants or descendants of people from the Republic of Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. Nicaragua is bordered on the north by Honduras, on the south by Costa Rica, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The country contains three distinctive geographic zones: the Pacific lowlands, the central highlands, and the Caribbean lowlands. The Pacific lowlands is the most populous region, but it also houses forty volcanoes and contains the two largest freshwater lakes in Central America, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua. Nicaragua's total land area is 50,336 square miles (130,370 square kilometers), slightly smaller than the state of New York.

According to the Nicaraguan census, the country had a population of 5.1 million people in 2005, and the CIA World Factbook estimated the population to be 5.7 million in 2012. The majority of the population practices Catholicism (83 percent), and a sizable percentage practices Protestantism (16 percent). Approximately 69 percent of the population is mestizo (a mix of European and the native Amerindian), and 17 percent is white. Close to 9 percent of the population is of African descent, while the native Amerindian population makes up about 5 percent of the total population. In spite of the government's efforts to spark the economy, Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in Central and South America. Agriculture accounts for close to 17 percent of the country's gross domestic product, while nearly 56 percent of the economy is based on tourism and the service industry.

Nicaraguans began immigrating to the United States near the turn of the twentieth century. The majority of Nicaraguan immigrants prior to the 1970s were women who found employment as domestics or in the textiles industry. After the Sandinista Revolution (1974–1979), which culminated with the exile of dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, many wealthy Nicaraguans, as well as army officers allied with Somoza, fled to the United States. The revolution was followed by an eleven-year civil war, as well as severe drought and damage from hurricanes in the 1980s and 1990s. All these factors forced many working-class and poor families to seek economic and political stability in the United States. In 1998 Nicaragua was once again devastated by a hurricane. Since 1998, Nicaraguans have continued to immigrate to the United States seeking refuge from the devastation and the slowly recovering economy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, in 2011 an estimated 387,104 people of Nicaraguan descent were living in the United States, constituting approximately 2 percent of the total U.S. population. The majority of Nicaraguan Americans live in California (100,790) and Florida (135,143). Approximately 90 percent of Florida's Nicaraguan American population lives in the Miami area (118,768), and California's population of Nicaraguan Americans tend to live in Los Angeles (15,572) and San Francisco (7,604). Sizable numbers also reside in the states of New York (13,006), New Jersey (8,222), Maryland (8,196), and Virginia (7,388), which include the Washington, D.C., area. Other states with significant Nicaraguan communities include Houston (9,496) with a total population of 19,817 in Texas, while 83 percent of Nicaraguan Americans living in Louisiana (6,390) reside in New Orleans (5,310).


Early History Around 2000 BCE, thousands of years after the first people arrived in North America from Asia, the Mayan empire began to develop along the Caribbean coast of Central America, and eventually its influence spread through a network of city-states that stretched from present-day southern Mexico into Honduras, just north of Nicaragua. The ancient Maya are known for their many intellectual and artistic accomplishments. They invented the first system of writing in the New World, developed a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, worshipped at brightly painted temples of stone, lived in large city-like centers, and sustained a rigid and highly structured society. The many Mayan temples and stone-paved roads that remain are testimony to the beauty, ingenuity, and durability of ancient Mayan architecture and engineering. The Maya also waged the brutal civil wars that may have contributed to the sudden and mysterious downfall of the Mayan empire in around 900 CE. Today the descendants of the ancient Maya live in Guatemala and the Yucatán Peninsula in southern Mexico. The Mayan influence Page 316  |  Top of Articleis ubiquitous throughout Central America, and many Mayan-language words are present in the everyday Spanish spoken in modern Nicaragua.

After the fall of the Maya, the Aztecs, a Nahuat-speaking group who originated in northern Mexico, came into full power. They eventually established a series of allegiances that spread from Mexico to El Salvador. The Nicarao and some of the other indigenous groups of Nicaragua may have originally fled south to Nicaragua in order to avoid subjugation by the aggressive Aztecs. These migrating groups of people brought with them the Aztec language and culture, both of which persist in various forms today in Nicaragua.

Before the Spanish conquest in the early 1520s, Nicaragua was inhabited by numerous competing indigenous groups who probably originally came from both the north and the south. Among them were the Niquiranos, the Nicarao (also known as the Nahual or Nagual), the Chorotega, the Chontales (or Mames), the Miskito, the Sumu (or Sumo), the Voto, the Suerre, and the Guetar. The invading Spaniards and the epidemics that followed the conquest all but eradicated the Nicarao, Chorotega, Chontales, Voto, Suerre, Guetar, and numerous other indigenous Nicaraguan peoples. Having been decimated by war and disease, their societies in shambles, the surviving indigenous people were often forced to learn Spanish, to convert to Catholicism, and to work under slave-like conditions for the benefit of the Spanish colonizers and missionary priests. Over the years, many of these indigenous people assimilated and intermarried into Spanish colonial society, forming the racial-cultural group called mestizo.

Although a few Nicarao persisted in Nicaragua until the mid-twentieth century, their culture has been subsumed by mestizo culture, and their descendants are now only vaguely aware of their ethnic identity. Some indigenous groups in Nicaragua have, however, maintained their language, culture, and ethnic identity. Through a combination of fierce resistance to Hispanic control and isolation in the Caribbean lowlands, the Miskito, the Sumu, and the Rama have managed to survive and maintain their ethnic identity into the present.

From the time of the conquest until 1821, Spain controlled most of Nicaragua, while British colonizers controlled some areas along the Caribbean coast. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain first in 1821 as part of the Mexican empire and later as part of the Central American Federation. By 1838 the federation had collapsed, and rival conservative and liberal factions had begun violent struggles for power in Nicaragua. The rivalry was as much based on political differences as it was on localismo—the provincial rivalry between Grenada and León, the two oldest colonial cities in Nicaragua. In the mid-1800s the United States and Britain aggravated the liberal-conservative feud when the two nations competed for control over a potential transoceanic canal route that would have crossed Nicaragua via the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua.

In 1855 liberal leader General Francisco de Castellón invited a well-known Tennessee-born adventurer named William Walker to come to Nicaragua as a peaceful “colonist” with the understanding that Walker was to be the defender of the liberals. However, when Walker arrived with a gang of mercenaries named the “American Phalanx of Immortals,” he promptly ended the civil war and declared himself president of Nicaragua. The same day he took office, he issued four decrees: the first was an agreement to borrow money from abroad with the Nicaraguan territory as collateral; the second confiscated the property of the conservatives, for sale to U.S. citizens; the third made English the official language of the country; and the fourth reinstated slavery.

Walker next attempted to conquer the other four Central American republics, but a combined effort by the Central American armies eventually forced his retreat in May 1857. Fortunately for Walker, there was a U.S. ship waiting to take him back to New Orleans, where he was given a hero's welcome. Completely discredited by the Walker incident, the liberals lost control to the conservatives, who established the Nicaraguan capital in Managua. The conservative government was stable but not democratic. In November 1857, Walker led another failed invasion of Nicaragua and once again was shipped safely back to the United States. Three years later Walker made his third attempt to achieve “manifest destiny,” but this time a British ship overcame him and turned him over to the Honduran government; a Honduran firing squad ended Walker's life. It was just the beginning of a long era of U.S. intervention in Nicaraguan politics.

Modern Era Throughout the twentieth century, the people of Nicaragua suffered many disasters, both natural and man-made. Hurricanes, severe earthquakes, dictatorships, revolution, counterrevolution, famines, epidemics, civil war, volcanic eruptions, and foreign machination have all besieged the country. In 1909 the U.S. government supported a revolution that ousted liberal General José Santos Zelaya and instated conservative rule. In 1912 popular revolt against the conservatives led to a U.S. Marine occupation of Nicaragua. From 1927 to 1933 General Augusto César Sandino led a sustained guerrilla war against the Marines, who left in 1933. The following year Sandino was assassinated by the U.S.-trained Nicaraguan National Guard at the request of their commander, General Anastasio Somoza.

Somoza seized control of Nicaragua in 1936 and was the country's dictatorial ruler until his assassination in 1956. Somoza's sons, Luis Somoza Debayle and Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who both spoke English and were educated in the United States, Page 317  |  Top of Articleassumed control of the country. When Luis, better known as Tachito, died a natural death in 1967, Anastasio became leader.

Dissatisfaction with the Somoza family continued to escalate, and the resistance acquired a greater degree of organization throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961 Carlos Fonseca organized a cadre of insurgent socialist groups into a larger left-leaning organization that began calling itself the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1963. Named after General Sandino, the organization was commonly known, in both Spanish and English, as the Sandinistas. Popular dissatisfaction with the Somoza regime erupted into violence in 1978 when Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, the editor of an anti-Somoza newspaper, was assassinated. The Sandinistas took power in 1979 and set up a broad-based coalition government. Somoza fled to Miami and then to Paraguay, where he was assassinated in 1980.

The coalition government faced constant challenges from the right—most notably the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and the leaders of the international business community. The U.S. government, however, proved to be the greatest threat to the stability of the new regime in Nicaragua. In 1985 President Ronald Reagan imposed an economic embargo against Nicaragua, citing what he saw as the threat of Marxism and communism in the “backyard” of the United States. The U.S. government denied that it was supporting anti-Sandinistas, but it was secretly aiding anti-Sandinista guerrillas, or “Contras.” Exiled Nicaraguan Contra leaders who lived in Miami worked together with high-ranking officials in the Marines, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Council (NSC) to supply weapons and money to the Contras, despite the fact that Congress had passed a law banning U.S. government support for the Contras. This affair was partially brought to light in 1986 when attorney general Edwin Meese discovered that much of the money for the Contras came from a secret arms-for-hostages deal between the United States and Iran. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and other high-ranking officials in the CIA and NSC were later convicted of crimes ranging from perjury to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush denied prior knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair, as the scandal came to be called. In 1992 President Bush pardoned all of the high-ranking officials who were involved with the scandal.

Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, wife of slain anti-Somoza leader Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, was elected president in 1990. A conservative moderately opposed to the Sandinistas, Chamorro may have won partly because war-weary Nicaraguan voters were tired of the U.S. embargo and the ongoing violence of the Contra War. After Chamorro's election the U.S. trade embargo was lifted, and in November 1993, in response to Chamorro's pledge to place the army under non-Sandinista control, President Bill Clinton approved $40 million in aid for Nicaragua. Chamorro attempted to achieve peace by giving amnesty to both sides for crimes committed during the civil wars.

Sixteen years after the Sandinista revolution, Nicaragua was still in a desperate situation. There were an estimated 1,500 “recontras,” former right-wing rebels, fighting for land rights. The annual per capita income in 1994 was $540, lower than it had been in 1960, according to the University of Central America. Some 60 percent of Nicaraguans were unemployed, and 70 percent lived in extreme poverty, according to United Nations estimates. The infant mortality rate was the highest in Central America: 81 deaths per 1,000 live births. Nicaragua had an external debt of about $14 billion and suffered from inflation. In a mid-1990s poll in Nicaragua, 50 percent of respondents said that Nicaragua had been better off under the brutal Somoza regime, and only 7 percent said that the country was better off under Chamorro, according to Canadian magazine Maclean's. In 1996 a conservative, Arnoldo Alemán, was elected president.

In the early twenty-first century, the United States continued its attempts to influence electoral politics in Nicaragua. George W. Bush's administration repeatedly characterized the FSLN as a terrorist group. In 2001 Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega (who had been president from 1985 to 1990) lost the presidential election to Enrique Bolaños, the U.S.-backed vice-president to Alemán who ran for office after Alemán was barred from elections due to allegations of corruption. Ortega initially refused to concede amidst widespread charges of electoral fraud. When Bolaños took office he alienated many of his conservative supporters by attempting to purge the government of corruption and working with the World Bank to stabilize Nicaragua's economy. Leading up to the 2006 elections, the United States attempted to thwart Ortega's presidential bid by implying that the United States and its allies in Americas would impose a trade embargo if the Sandinistas ascended to power. In spite of the threats, Ortega won the election and prevailed again in his reelection bid in 2011.


Little is known about the first Nicaraguans to immigrate to the United States, because the U.S. Census Bureau did not keep separate statistics for individual Central American countries until 1960. Pre-1960 Census reports simply counted Nicaraguans together with all Spanish-surnamed people, and estimates of the number of undocumented early immigrants are not available. Data on migration among Central Americans from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries show a great deal of variation from decade to decade. Documented immigration to the United States from Central America rose from 500 individuals entering between 1890 and 1900, to 8,000 individuals between 1900 and 1910. During World Page 318  |  Top of ArticleWar I, and 17,000 Central Americans legally entered the United States between 1910 and 1920, largely to meet the increased U.S. demand for labor. Due to 1920s legislation that restricted the flow of immigrants from countries in the Western Hemisphere, the number of Central American immigrants dropped to 6,000 during the 1930s.

Some critics of U.S. foreign policy contend that migration from Nicaragua to the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century has been caused by Nicaragua's economic dependency upon the United States. Many Nicaraguans have come to the United States to escape poverty and political turmoil at home and have arrived thinking that they would live more comfortably in the United States. Nearly 7,500 Nicaraguans legally immigrated to the United States between 1967 and 1976. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28,620 Nicaraguans were living in the United States in 1970. Over 90 percent of Nicaraguan immigrants self-reported as “white” on the 1970 Census. Most Nicaraguan immigrants during the late 1960s were women: there were only 60 male Nicaraguan immigrants for every 100 female immigrants during this period. This male-to-female ratio may be explained by the large number of Central American women who came to the United States to work as domestic servants so that they could send money home to Nicaragua. Most immigrants during this period settled in urban areas, many in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

The 1979 revolution triggered three large waves of Nicaraguan immigrants. Documented immigration increased two to three times after the revolution, and undocumented immigration rose dramatically. The first wave took place during the time of the revolution, when the wealthy families closely associated with the Somoza regime fled to Miami. Perhaps as many as 20,000 Nicaraguans immigrated to Miami during this period. After the revolution there was a period of repatriation, when people who had left Nicaragua to avoid the conflicts returned home.

The second wave occurred during the early 1980s, when the Nicaraguan government was reorganized. Many non-Sandinista members of the coalition as well as industrialists whose companies had been seized by the state left the country—some ending up in the United States. In the mid-1980s, fighting between the Sandinistas and the U.S.-supported Contras became more severe, which caused the country's economic and civil rights conditions to worsen significantly. The real wage paid to workers, for example, declined by over 90 percent from 1981 to 1987, according Sandinista figures, and the opposition newspaper was heavily censored. This economic chaos and social repression prompted the third and largest wave of immigrants to date. The immigrants in the third wave tended to be young men of all classes fleeing the involuntary military draft and poorer families seeking to escape harsh economic conditions and violence.

Between 1982 and 1992, approximately 10 percent to 12 percent of the population of Nicaragua left their native country. The largest numbers of people went to Costa Rica, but hundreds of thousands went to the United States, Honduras, and Guatemala.

In 1997 Congress passed the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty. By 2007, NACARA estimated that 966,480 Nicaraguans would be naturalized as U.S. citizens. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that close to 6,000 undocumented people from Nicaragua arrive each year. According to the 2010 Census, California and Florida are the states with the largest numbers of Nicaraguan Americans. Other states with smaller, but significant, numbers include Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia.

Miami is the center of Nicaraguan American life. The ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza was the first of about 175,000 Nicaraguans who arrived in Miami in the 1980s. A small city called Sweetwater, about sixteen miles from Miami, has been dubbed “Little Managua” because of the large number of Nicaraguans who settled there. Nicaraguans have also created communities in other large urban centers, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Smaller numbers of Nicaraguans live in large cities in Texas. All these cities have significant Spanish-speaking populations, which facilitates networking and the sense of community among the recent immigrants.

The anti-immigration sentiment in California contrasted markedly with the welcome that Nicaraguan immigrants received in the early days of the first wave after the revolution in the early 1980s. At that time, President Reagan painted the Nicaraguan revolution in stark Cold War tones: the Sandinistas were Marxists and communists who were going to destabilize the Central American isthmus through their close alignment with communist Cuba and the Soviet Union. According to this Cold War scenario, Nicaraguan immigrants were refugees and exiles who had escaped the communist regime and therefore deserved political asylum and assistance, essentially because they were viewed by some American conservatives as the outcasts of a newly formed socialist regime. Even though the political affiliation of the parent country is not supposed to enter into questions of asylum, Nicaraguan applicants were granted political asylum about 50 percent of the time in 1987. Salvadorans fleeing similar conditions received asylum only three percent of the time in 1987.

During the mid- to late 1980s, when many Americans were less hospitable to Nicaraguan and other immigrants from Central American, other Americans banded together to support Central Americans and Central American refugees. Over eighty municipal governments created U.S.-Nicaraguan sister city agreements. The U.S. cities sent medical supplies, food, and farming materials to their

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CENGAGE LEARNING, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED U.S. Census Bureau, 2006–2010 American Community Survey

counterpart cities in Nicaragua. Some churches created what were called “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants. The churches offered support and shelter to Central American immigrants. During this period Central American refugee centers appeared in nearly every large urban center in the United States.

Key issues facing Nicaraguans staying permanently in the United States are questions of identity. They wonder, for example, whether they are considered refugees or immigrants, or whether they are merely living in exile. CARECEN, which is located in Los Angeles and is one of the leading Central American assistance groups, reflected this shift in identity when it changed its name from Central American Refugee Center to Central American Resource Center. Another key issue is the return of millions of dollars' worth of property seized by the Sandinistas under a law that gave the government the right to seize property if the owner was absent from Nicaragua for more than sixty days. Many of the former owners of the seized property became citizens of the United States and attempted to regain their titles through U.S. law.


Spanish is the language spoken by most Nicaraguans, but several indigenous groups speak their own languages, sometimes in addition to Spanish or English. The Miskito, Sumu, and Rama on the Atlantic coast all speak related, but distinct, languages. Many Garifuna also speak an Afro-Karib language of their own, sometimes in addition to Spanish and English.

Nicaraguan Spanish has several distinguishing characteristics. The Nicaraguan accent dates back to the sixteenth century in Andalusia, and the relative isolation of Nicaragua meant that the accent did not change in the same ways that the Andalusian accent has. For example Nicaraguans have a tendency to replace the “s” sound with an “h” sound when speaking. Nicaraguans also tend to use grammatical constructions that are now rare in most other Spanish-speaking countries. For example: ¡Y quien sos vos! (And who are you!) uses vos, an antiquated form of “you.” Some linguists have noted that onomatopoeic words are common in Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan Spanish also has many indigenous influences. Until the nineteenth century a hybrid form of Nahuat-Spanish was the common language of Nicaragua. Today Nahuat, Mangue, and Maya words and syntax can be found in everyday speech. As the words for two tropical fruits, mamey and papaya, testify, Nicaraguan Spanish has some Caribbean influences. Béisbol (baseball) and daime (dime) attest to Nicaragua's long association with the United States. However, the greatest number of Nicaraguanisms come from Aztec and Nahuat languages. An example of a Spanish-Aztec hybrid word is chibola, the Nicaraguan word for “bottled soda.” It is formed from two words: chi, meaning “small” in Aztec, and bola, Page 320  |  Top of Articlemeaning “ball” in Spanish. Nicaraguan Americans and other Spanish-speaking newcomers in cities like Miami soon learn to speak “Spanglish”—a combination of Spanish and English. For example: “Have a nice day, Señor.” This type of language usage is so common that it can be heard on Spanish-language radio shows and television.

In the United States, Nicaraguan Americans often modify their native language so that it matches the Spanish spoken by other Latin communities. Small turns of phrase or prepositions are abandoned so that they can assimilate within the larger Spanish-speaking community.


Nicaraguan Americans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, and Nicaragua's Catholicism focuses on the mysteries of the Virgin Mary. There are small numbers of evangelical, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Protestants. Most, if not all, of Nicaragua's 60 or 70 Jewish families left the country during and after the Sandinista revolution. Many of the Jewish emigrants cited anti-Semitic harassment by FSLN soldiers as the main reason for leaving. One Managuan synagogue was firebombed, reportedly by people who identified themselves as members of the FSLN. Changes in worshiping practices since Nicaraguans have begun arriving in the United States are not well documented.

In addition to the Virgin Mary, Catholic Nicaraguan Americans venerate Nicaragua's patron saint, Santo Domingo. In Nicaragua, the celebration of the saint includes a procession of thousands of people; however, in the United States, worship of the saint is much more subdued, taking place inside the home and observed by placing small figurines around the house. Due to their Catholic heritage, many of the traditions and customs practiced by Nicaraguan Americans are colored with religious expressions.


Having arrived relatively recently in the United States, most Nicaraguan Americans have maintained their native traditions and beliefs and have, to some degree, merged their culture with the cultures of immigrants from other areas of Central and South America. Because the Nicaraguan American community in San Francisco, for instance, is relatively diffuse, Nicaraguan Americans there have been assimilating into a pan-Latino culture more rapidly than into non-Latino culture. In general, Nicaraguan Americans retain a large part of their culture due to their continued connection to the country and to the relationships they have forged with other members of Latino immigrant communities. Families typically visit Nicaragua at least once a year. Additionally, events like Hurricane Mitch in 1998 transcended political and social divisions, bringing the diasporic community together in a series of efforts to offer aid and support to the people who lost their homes and families.

Traditions and Customs Some of the Nicaraguan people's beliefs and traditions date back to pre-Columbian times, and others appeared during colonial times. Most are a mixture of both pre- and post-Columbian culture and are known throughout Mexico and Central America. For example, La Llorona is the name of a legendary woman-spirit who walks along streets and paths on dark nights sighing and sobbing over the children she lost during the time of the Spanish conquest. One version of the legend has it that her children were killed by an earthquake; another says that the children's Spanish father stole them away from her. This may be related to the Mexican legend of La Malinche, the real-life assistant and lover of conquistador Héman Cortés, who bore him a child that Mexican legend identifies as the first mestizo.

There are many folk beliefs in Nicaraguan culture. One belief says that if a person who has sun-irritated eyes from walking in the sun looks at a child, that child will be “infected with the sun” and will suffer from fever and diarrhea. The treatment is difficult unless the person who has infected the child is known. If the person is known, the treatment is simple: wrap the child in a sweaty shirt that has been worn by the person who originally infected him or her, and hours later the child will be healthy.

Cuisine The importance of corn to traditional Nicaraguan cuisine, religion, and folklore cannot be overstated. To a large extent, the traditional cuisine of Nicaragua consists of varied and imaginative ways of preparing corn, or maíz. Nearly every part of the plant is used—from the fungus that grows on the corn to the husk that covers the cob—and nearly every type of dish and beverage is made of corn. Breakfast cereals, breads, drinks that taste a bit like coffee, puddings, desserts, porridges, and even beer are made from corn. The tamal (pronounced “tahmahl”) is a bit of corn dough with seasoned meat, sweet chocolate, or vegetables, wrapped inside of a corn husk or a banana leaf before it is steamed or boiled.

The small, round, unleavened tortilla, made of ground and processed corn, is the daily staple of Nicaraguans. The tortilla is bread, spoon, and plate for Central Americans. Traditionally made at home by hand in Nicaragua, tortillas are made by machines in the United States and sold in supermarkets all over California, the Southwest, and in southern Florida. In Nicaragua, the national tamal is called nacatamal (pronounced “nacatahmahl”) and consists of pork, chicken, or turkey, various vegetables, mint, and hot peppers, all combined with a corn dough made with sour orange juice. A small amount of this mixture is put inside of an individual corn husk or banana leaf and then folded or rolled and sealed before cooking. Restaurants in Miami have signs in their windows that say: “Nacatamales and other Nicaraguan foods.”

Beans are also important. Unlike most of Central America, which prefers black beans, Nicaraguans tend Page 321  |  Top of Articleto eat red beans. The most common national dish in Nicaragua is gallo pinto (fried white rice and red beans), and red bean soup is the most typical soup of Nicaragua. It is made from red beans boiled with garlic, onion, pork, and sweet red pepper. The soup is poured into a bowl, and then an egg is cracked into the hot soup. The heat of the soup partially cooks the egg.

While everyday cuisine is based upon abundant corn and beans, the criollo (pronounced “cree-o-yo”), or Creole, cuisine is based more on meats and sauces that are Nicaraguan adaptations of Spanish and European dishes. The scarcity and high cost of meats in Nicaragua has put meat normally out of reach of everyone but the upper classes. However, baho vigorrón is popular among a wide range of Nicaraguans. This dish is a combination of fried pork rinds and yucca (a shrub common in Nicaragua that has many edible parts) served with salad, or ensalata, consisting of shredded cabbage, onion, and carrots.

Desserts called almibares (pronounced “almee-barays”) consist of honey- and syrup-coated fruits such as mango, mamey, jocote, papaya, and marañon. Almibares are eaten all over the country during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Many corn-based desserts also exist. For example, motlatl atol (pronounced “moetlahtel ahtol”) is a yellow pudding-like dessert made from corn, milk, sugar, and a fruit, which is also eaten during Semana Santa. Chocolate, which is native to Central America, is used not only in sweet drinks and desserts but as a flavoring for meat dishes.

Holidays Until recently, La Purísima was a holiday celebrated only in Nicaragua. Now it is also celebrated in Los Angeles, Miami, and other Nicaraguan American communities. The holiday takes place from the last days in November until the night of the seventh of December, which is called the Noche de Gritería (Night of the Shouting). All through the week women make traditional sweets and drinks that will be exchanged during the last night. The centerpiece of the holiday is a small statue of the Virgin Mary covered with decorations of flowers, fruits, lights, and candles. Each night the family prays together in front of the statue. On the last night, neighbors, friends, and families from house to house in a secular-religious celebration that takes its name from the shouts raised in honor of the Virgin Mary: “Long live the Conception of Mary!” and “Who causes so much joy? The Conception of Maria!” are heard in the streets. Passersby receive candies, fruits, sugarcane, and even staples such as rice, beans, and cooking oils in honor of the assurances that Virgin Mary received from the archangel when she learned that she would that her child would be the son of God. Groups of people also sing traditional religious songs in front of the statue of the Virgin. Typically, the gritería culminates at midnight with elaborate fireworks display.

In Nicaragua, Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a major spring holiday and a time for relaxing at the

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1 cup gallo pinto beans

1 bay leaf

1 small onion, peeled

1 whole clove

2 cloves garlic, peeled


1½ cups long-grain white rice

¼ cup olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper


Soak the beans in a pot in cold water covered by at least three inches at least four hours. Drain the beans and place in a large pot with two quarts of water. Pin the bay leaf to the onion with the clove, and add to the beans. Add the garlic. Gradually bring the beans to a boil, skimming off any foam. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the beans, uncovered, until tender, about 1–1½ hours, adding salt to taste during the last ten minutes. Drain the beans and refresh under cold water. Discard the onion.

Bring 2½ cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in a large heave saucepan. Add the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the rice until tender, about 18 minutes. Let the rice sit, covered, 5 minutes, and fluff with a fork.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and thoroughly brown over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and rice and cook over medium heat until the rice is lightly browned and the mixture is very aromatic, about 5 minutes. Correct the seasonings before serving.

beach or vacationing. On Easter Sunday villagers all over Nicaragua gather beneath bowers made of palm leaves decorated with fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Accompanied by a brass band, the villagers walk slowly around the town in a procession that commemorates the Stations of the Cross, a series of the most poignant events surrounding Jesus's arrest, interrogation, sentencing, and crucifixion. At the head of the parade are people dressed as symbolic characters: Hebrew elders and Apostles. The Apostles carry a life-size statue of Christ. The procession usually ends up in a public square in front of the town's church, where there is food for sale and carnival-like concessions. Nicaraguan American communities still observe this holiday, but the celebration is somewhat muted. In the Miami-Dade region, for example, masses are held on Sunday and during the week, but the level of celebration is not as grand as it is in Nicaragua. People often Page 322  |  Top of Articleelect to celebrate at home with family and friends. Many churches in Florida, however, do offer dinners and processions leading up to the close of the week.

Attempts to rejuvenate Nicaraguan culture in the United States have led to celebrations like the quinceañera, a girl's fifteenth birthday, to become more prevalent in the United States than it is in Latin America. The celebration reflects the family's economic and social status. The ceremony resembles a ballroom dance, and its continued performance illustrates ways in which the Nicaraguan community navigates its identity within the larger culture of the United States. In her book Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA (2007), Julia Alvarez notes that the quinceañera marks a profound sense of social capital in the Latino community since families will spend large sums of money on the celebration, but it also provides a telling example of how Nicaraguan Americans reinvent their culture by merging the traditional ceremony with aspects of U.S. culture, such as cuisine, clothing, and music.

In the United States, Nicaraguan Americans often modify their native language so that it matches the Spanish spoken by other Latin communities. Small turns of phrase or prepositions are abandoned so that they can assimilate within the larger Spanish-speaking community.

Death and Funeral Rituals The observation of a velorio, or funeral party, after a person's death is an old tradition with Hispanic origins. During the velorio the family and friends of the deceased gather to share their grief. The relatives and close friends sit in the same room as the deceased and maintain a silent prayer vigil throughout the night until morning. Others at the velorio tell picaresque stories, drink liquor, eat large amounts of food, and even gamble. Following the velorio, the body is taken to the cemetery in a funeral procession with a brass band. The mourners follow the casket on foot to the cemetery.

The velorios de los santos, or velorios of the saints, are similar affairs in which small candles are lit on altars, festive decorations are hung, and prayers are made, accompanied by music and sometimes drunkenness. The most famous funeral procession of a saint is the procession of Managua's Saint Domingo. In this noisy and colorful parade, a tiny statue of the saint is carried to “sanctuary” in the hills of Managua. Marimbas, dancers, fireworks, and a carnival atmosphere mark the event.

Health Care Issues and Practices Nicaraguans, like all people native to the Americas and the Pacific Basin, are genetically prone to develop a small birth-mark. The spot is a small, oval bluish mark found at the base of the spine on babies. Eventually this spot disappears, leaving no trace. In some cases a similar pigmentation, called Nevus of Ota, can appear on the cheeks or on the sclera of the eyes. Nevus of Ota is disfiguring, but usually not debilitating.

According to a study conducted in Los Angeles and published in 1992, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among Nicaraguan immigrant children who have witnessed or experienced violence. Fifteen of the thirty-one Central American children studied had witnessed violence. Of the children who both witnessed violence and lost contact with a caregiver, 100 percent suffered from some form of PTSD. The combined stress of living in guerrilla war conditions, forced emigration, and impoverished living conditions in the United States cause many Nicaraguan refugee children to suffer from the symptoms of PTSD, including nightmares, nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite, and tearfulness.

When they arrived in the United States, Nicaraguan-educated doctors discovered that they could not practice medicine without a U.S. medical degree. Those who had studied in the United States were more fortunate and could more easily transfer their experience to a job in the United States. Frustrated by their situation, some Nicaraguan-educated doctors in Miami founded clandestine clinics to serve the uninsured Nicaraguan American population. These clinics do not appear in telephone books and do not advertise. During the time of the Contra war, some of the medical supplies that were headed for the fighting in Honduras ended up in some of these clandestine clinics. Other Nicaraguan-educated doctors found work in clinics that agreed to let them work at wages far below normal.

Health insurance remains an issue for immigrants from Nicaragua, as well as others from Central America. According to a 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control, immigrants from Central America, including Nicaraguans, are twice as likely to not have a primary healthcare provider, and 68 percent of the respondents indicated that they had not spoken with a health care provider within a year. In addition, many Hispanic immigrants do not have health insurance, but studies indicate that Hispanic Americans are in better health than people born in the United States.

The indigenous medicine of Nicaragua is one part magical and one part rational. Those who practice in this tradition maintain that, for every illness, there is a specific therapy, usually of vegetal origin. Many potent botanical medicines are part of the traditional medicine—some of them, like the leaves of the coca plant, which are the source of cocaine, have been recognized as potent pharmaceuticals by Western science and medicine. The various leaves, roots, and berries are usually made into a tea that the ill person drinks, or a poultice that is applied to the body. Certain foods, like atol made from corn, are also believed to have curative properties.

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Seemingly innocuous, the following Nicaraguan proverbs and sayings reveal quite a bit about Nicaragua and Nicaraguans:

Con eme-omo-de-odo, se consigue todo.

With manners, everything can be obtained.

Cada uno tiene su modo de matar pulgas.

Everyone has her or his manner of killing fleas.

El último mono se ahoga.

The last monkey drowns. (Figuratively, the last in line will not receive her or his portion of food.)

No creer en santos que orinan.

Don't believe in saints that urinate.

Voltearse la tortilla.

The tortilla is flipped. (Refers to the way that tortillas are cooked. This is said when one party has fallen and another is ruling.)

Al mejor mono se le cae el zapote.

Even the best monkey sometimes drops the sapote (a type of fruit).

A cada chancho le llega su sábado.

For every pig his Saturday will come.

A donde te quieren mucho, no vengas a menudo.

A constant guest is never welcome.

Amigo y vino, el mas antiguo.

Old friends and old wine are best.

Con la honra no se pone la olla.

Honor buys no meat in the market.


Partly because of tradition, and partly because of the Catholic prohibition against birth control and abortion, Nicaraguan American families tend to be larger than is typical in the United States. The tradition of larger families may have its origin in Nicaragua's agricultural economy, where more children meant more help to plant and harvest. In the 1960s and early 1970s, few Nicaraguans immigrated as families—two-thirds of all Nicaraguan Americans during that period were women. As the reasons for immigration changed over the years, single women gave way to more families and widowed women with children. Sometimes families spanning three generations immigrated together. When immigrants are fleeing from violence and economic problems, as Nicaraguans were in the 1980s, they want to take as many loved ones with them as they can. When the goal is to make money to send home, as it was in the late 1960s, immigrants tend to migrate alone.

Divisions are deep among some of the Nicaraguan American families that immigrated in the aftermath of the civil war. In many cases, the Sandinista revolution split sister from brother, mother from daughter, and friend from friend. Attitudes for or against the Sandinistas undermined efforts to create cohesive communities in cities like Los Angeles, where the headquarters of Casa Nicaragua, a Nicaraguan American social and political organization, was burned down in 1982, supposedly by Somocistas—the name given to those who sympathetic with Nicaragua's Somoza dynasty. However, as Nicaraguan Americans have become more assimilated, the political differences that have divided their communities are dissipating. Relatives of the deposed dictator Somoza own a chain of Nicaraguan restaurants in Miami, and these restaurants have become gathering places for a diverse group of Nicaraguans. Somocistas, Sandinistas, Cubans, and Americans come together, regardless of previous political divisions in Nicaragua. Pressing issues at home have also awakened national sentiment. Following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, people put aside their lingering ideological differences in order to provide humanitarian support to the people who were injured or left homeless.

Gender Roles Traditional Nicaraguan culture is fairly conservative, with men overseeing the public sphere and women controlling the domestic sphere. Similar to other immigrant groups, however, subsequent generations of Nicaraguan Americans have transcended the traditional gender boundaries, with many women seeking employment outside the home. Children also resist aspects of the culture that they determine does not fit within the larger U.S. social structure. Teenagers, in particular, adopt aspects of American pop culture such as dress, slang, and music. Children choose which language they wish to speak with their peers and to what extent they evidence their heritage in the public sphere.

Education Many Nicaraguan families immigrate to the United States in order to improve their own or their children's education. It has been common for the wealthier families in Nicaragua to send their children to boarding schools and universities in the United States and Europe. Nicaraguan Americans' level of educational attainment tends to be lower than the national rates. According to the American Community Survey's estimates for 2006–2011, approximately 76.3 percent of Nicaraguan Americans had graduated high school (compared to a national rate of 85 percent) and 20.5 percent had earned a bachelor's degree or higher (compared to

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The national sport of Nicaragua is baseball. The first organized baseball game in Nicaragua took place in 1892. For more than two decades in the early part of the twentieth century, U.S. Marines were stationed in Nicaragua. One result of the U.S. Marine occupation is Nicaragua's widespread fascination with baseball. In Nicaragua, the word for baseball is béisbol (pronounced “bays-bole”). Men and boys in small towns play baseball with whatever equipment they can muster—sometimes they use tough Nicaraguan grapefruits (for which the Nicaraguan word is grapefruit), or even an old sock rolled up around a rock, instead of a ball. There is also a professional league. At least five Nicaraguans who may have started by playing with rolled up socks later played for the major leagues in the United States.

28 percent for the overall U.S. population). Nicaraguan American men were slightly more likely (77 percent) to graduate from high school than women (76 percent), but women were more likely (23 percent) to graduate from college than men (18 percent).


Over the years, diverse groups of Nicaraguans have immigrated to the United States—some were doctors or bankers with university educations, and some were fifteen-year-old boys fleeing the draft. Upon arriving in the United States, many Nicaraguans, regardless of degrees, experience, and prior social standing, had to take low-paying jobs that did not offer benefits. Undocumented Nicaraguan immigrants often had to accept whatever employment they could find. They worked off the books and in many cases accepted wages that were below federally mandated standards.

The Nicaraguans who left Nicaragua between 1979 and 1988 tended to be of working age and were more likely to have been employed in a white-collar occupation before leaving Nicaragua, according to a statistical study published by Edward Funkhouser in 1992. They also tended to be from wealthier, larger, better-educated families compared to non-migrating Nicaraguans. According to Funkhouser, 64.2 percent of the immigrants had a secondary education, compared to 43.3 percent of all families surveyed in Managua. About 14 percent of the migrants had a university education, according to the same study.

Nicaraguan Americans typically find work through family or friends who have established themselves in the community, and they tend to work in specific niches that are related to these unofficial word-of-mouth networks. In San Francisco between 1984 and 1985, for example, it was common for Nicaraguan American men to work as janitors. Nearly nineteen percent of Nicaraguan men worked as building cleaners, according to one San Francisco study that tallied the occupations of Nicaraguan-born men who listed their occupations on their children's birth certificates. Another 21.6 percent of Nicaraguan-born men worked in operations and fabrications, 10.8 percent worked at production and repair, and 1.1 percent worked as farmers, bringing the total percentage of Nicaraguan Americans who worked at blue-collar jobs to 33.5 percent. Nicaraguan Americans were also much less likely to work as food-service workers than were other Central Americans in the United States. Only 6.5 percent of the Nicaraguan Americans worked in food service, compared to 34.5 percent of Guatemalan Americans. Nicaraguan Americans were much more likely to work in white-collar jobs: 36.3 percent held administrative or other white-collar positions, compared to 6.9 percent of the Guatemalan Americans.

The American Community Survey (ACS) estimates for 2006–2010 indicated that the median household income among Nicaraguan Americans was $47,625, slightly less than the national average of $51,484. The ACS also reported that 15.6 percent of Nicaraguan American families were living below the poverty line (compared to a national rate of 11.1 percent).

Each year, Nicaraguan Americans send millions of dollars home to their families in Nicaragua. In 1988, Nicaraguan Americans sent somewhere between $50 million and $80 million to Nicaragua, making remittances nearly the second-largest source of foreign exchange in Nicaragua. Remittances remain a large source of income for Nicaragua. In 2011, Nicaraguans received over $1 billion from relatives living in the United States, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and various parts of Europe. In 2011 the average installment of a remittance was $152 per month, up from approximately $80 per month in the late 1980s.


Shortly after the revolution, Nicaraguan exiles living in the United States who were politically opposed to the Sandinistas organized an anti-Sandinista guerrilla army based in Miami and Honduras. Many of the guerrillas and guerrilla leaders were former National Guardsmen or were closely associated with the Somoza regime. The Somoza regime's long affiliation with the U.S. government meant that some Nicaraguan exiles already had well-placed U.S. government contacts and friends before they arrived in the United States. The U.S. government's support of the Contras—a blanket term that included all who took up arms against the Sandinistas—grew out of some of these relationships. Secret CIA involvement in the Contras' affairs dates back to at least 1981, according to Edgar Chamorro, former leader of the Contras, in his 1987 book Packaging the Contras. In a Senate subcommittee Page 325  |  Top of Articlehearing in 1988, Octaviano Cesar, a Contra leader, admitted that the Contras had smuggled drugs into the United States for a profit, but he blamed it on the U.S. Congress, which cut off aid to the Contras in 1984. Notes taken by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North suggest that North knew about the drug running and that the profits may have been as high as $14 million.

In 1987 about two thousand Nicaraguan Americans protested publicly against the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which they said prevented the majority of Nicaraguans from remaining in the United States. About two months later, Attorney General Edwin Meese signed an order that permitted Nicaraguans to stay in the United States “for the present.”

Since the 1990s, after the Sandinistas lost control of the government, Nicaraguan Americans have developed a richer interest in the Nicaragua's politics. The increased migration to the United States has built stronger ties to Nicaragua and created greater communication between the diasporic community and the nation. Nicaraguan Americans offered political and economic support to Alemán's Liberal Alliance and the Party of the Nicaraguan Resistance during the 1996 elections. Groups in Miami, consisting of former Contra fighters and exiled political leaders and businessmen, organized a series of political rallies. Leading up to Ortega's 2006 and 2011 campaigns, opposition forces and sympathizers continued to send money home in the hopes of electing their preferred candidate.

Nicaraguan Americans were thrust into a political struggle during the 2006 and 2011 elections. Pressure and intervention from the U.S. government on Nicaraguan politics led many Nicaraguan Americans to be suspicious of the relationship between the two countries. In 2008, when the United States cut off financial aid to Nicaragua, thousands of Nicaraguan Americans protested in Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The 2009 military coup that removed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from power reignited political and ideological divisions in Nicaraguan communities. The Nicaraguan American community has long protested against the School of the Americas, a facility in Fort Benning, Georgia, that trains Latin American government personnel. Leaders rejoiced in 2012 when President Ortega removed Nicaragua from the program. In the United States, Nicaraguans were among the growing group of Latin Americans who voted for President Barack Obama. Nearly 64 percent of the Latin American constituency voted to re-elect the president, indicating a significant shift in the Latin American community's political leanings. Although older generations of Nicaraguans are more socially conservative, issues such as immigration reform led to them supporting Obama's overall platform. Additionally, younger generations of Nicaraguan Americans are less likely to support measures concerning restrictions on abortion and cuts to education and social services.

A Nicaraguan American woman serves Cuban espresso in Miami, Florida.

A Nicaraguan American woman serves Cuban espresso in Miami, Florida. 2007 JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES


Academia Nicasio Urbina (1958–) is a Nicaraguan American writer and a professor of Latin American literature at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of “El mito de paraiso perdido en la literature nicaragüense en los Estados Unidos” (“The Myth of Paradise Lost in Nicaraguan Literature in the United States”), published in El Pez y la Serpiente in 1989. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Nicaraguan ancestry, Urbina was educated at Florida International University and at Georgetown University. He has been a member of the Modern Language Association since 1984 and has received numerous scholarships and fellowships throughout his academic career.

Eddy O. Rios Olivares (1942–) was educated in Minnesota and Puerto Rico. He has conducted micro-biological research in Nicaragua and at the Universidad Central del Caribe in Puerto Rico, where he is professor and chairman of the department of microbiology. He has received various grants and research awards for his antitumor and HIV/AIDS research.

Medicine Norma F. Wilson (1940–) is an obstetrical/gynecological nurse practitioner who was born in Managua and lives in Kansas City. Wilson belongs to many professional associations and organizations relating to public health, family planning, and minority health. The Seward County Republican Women named her one of the women of the year in 1988.

Rolando Emilio Lacayo (1937–) is a physician and surgeon who specializes in gynecology, infertility, and obstetrics. Lacayo was born in Managua and educated in Nicaragua, the United States, and Mexico. From 1970 to 1971 he was an instructor in gynecology and obstetrics at Baylor College in Houston, Texas. He is a member of the American Medical Association, and a junior fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Literature Pancho Aguila (1945–) was born Roberto Ignacio Zelaya in Managua and immigrated to the United States in 1947. He wrote and read in

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Nicaraguan American Roberto Aguirre Sacasa is a successful playwright, screenwriter, and comic book writer.

Nicaraguan American Roberto Aguirre Sacasa is a successful playwright, screenwriter, and comic book writer. ADAM NEMSER-PHOTOLINK.NET / PHOTOLINK / NEWSCOM

coffeehouses in San Francisco during the late 1960s until he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 1969 for a murder he committed during a robbery. He escaped from prison in 1972 and was arrested again five months later. While in prison, he wrote five books of poetry and contributed to several periodicals. He was paroled in 1992. One year later he and his girl-friend Heather Tallchief stole an armored vehicle containing $2.5 million dollars. Tallchief turned herself in in 2005, but Aguila remained on the run.

Horacio Aguirre is the publisher and editor of Diario las Américas, the leading conservative Spanish-language newspaper in Miami. In 1970 he was named man of the year by Revista Conservadora del Pensamiento Centroamericano. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from St. Thomas University (1976) and Barry University (1997) in Miami. He was awarded the Miami International Press Club's Good News Award in 1999, and the Great Floridian Award in 2001. Horacio's brother, Francisco Aguirre, has been called the godfather of the Contras. Francisco is a former National Guard colonel and has lived in exile in Washington, D.C., since 1947. He is well known in CIA and U.S. Department of State circles.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (1973–) was born in Washington, D.C., the son of a Nicaraguan diplomat. He is best known for his work as a writer for Marvel Comics, including Nightcrawler and The Stand. He also worked as a writer for the Fox television series Glee and HBO's Big Love.

Politics and Business Roberto Arguello, president of the Nicaraguan American Banker's and Businessman's Association, educated at the University of Notre Dame, and a commercial banker in Miami, is one of the most visible Nicaraguan Americans. In 1990 Arguello took time off from banking to lobby in Washington, D.C., on behalf the Nicaraguan government. In the late 1980s he was a vocal opponent of the U.S. refugee policy for Nicaraguans.

Social Work Born in 1943 in Mexico to a Nicaraguan father and a Mexican mother, Carmela Gloria Lacayo has worked for many years to improve the lives of the poor and elderly. Lacayo established the National Association for Hispanic Elderly and founded Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. She has been appointed to a number of political positions, including vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, member of the Census Bureau on Minority Populations, and an advisor on Social Security reform.

Sports Dennis Martinez (1955–) is a native of Grenada, Nicaragua. In 1976 Martinez became the first Nicaraguan ever to play in Major League Baseball. In 1990 he signed a three-year contract with the Montreal Expos that paid him more than $3 million per season. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Martinez said that when he broke into the big leagues and told people that he was from Nicaragua, they did not know where it was. In 1991 he pitched a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has narrowly missed winning the Cy Young Award several times. During his off-seasons in Miami, Martinez put his celebrity among baseball-loving Nicaraguan Americans to good use by participating in drug-prevention programs for young Nicaraguan Americans in Miami. He retired following the 1998 season and shortly afterward began coaching. In 2012 he was named the bullpen coach for the Houston Astros.

William Robert Guerin (1970–) is the first Hispanic player to play in the National Hockey League. Guerin played for eighteen seasons on eight different teams. He won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils (1995) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009).

Eve Torres (1984–), a U.S.-born Nicaraguan American, is best known for her career as a professional wrestler in the WWE, winning the women's championship three times.


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La Estrella de Nicaragua

This newspaper is published in Spanish by and for Nicaraguan Americans in Miami, Florida.

Nora Caldera-Lopez, Administrator
P.O. Box 16-1094
Miami-Dade, Florida 33116-1094
Phone: (786) 472-1698

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This pro-Sandinista news and information service was founded in 1979 to support the revolution against the Somoza dynasty.

Alejandro J. Aguirre, Editor
225 E. 26th Street
Tucson, Arizona 85713
Phone: (202) 544-9355


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American Nicaraguan Foundation

This organization provides health care to Nicaraguan people.

81000 NW 57th Court
Suite 770
Miami, Florida 33126
Phone: (305) 374-3391
Fax: (305) 374-5993

The Nicaragua Network

The Nicaragua Network was founded in 1979 to support the overthrow of the Somoza family and to support the Sandinista Revolution. The nonprofit network continues to produce publications and advocate for social and economic justice for Nicaragua.

1247 E Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Phone: (202) 544-9355


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Dallas Museum of Art

The museum displays an extensive collection of pre-Columbian and eighteenth- to twentieth-century textiles, censers, and other art objects from the Nicaraguan area.

Karen Zelanka, Associate Registrar, Permanent Collection
1717 Harwood
Dallas, Texas 75201
Phone: (214) 922-1200
Fax: (214) 954-0174

Human Rights Documentation Exchange

Formerly known as the Central America Resource Center, the Human Rights Documentation Exchange maintains a library of information on human rights and social conditions in many countries, including Nicaragua. Also produces biweekly compilations of current news articles on Central America called NewsPaks.

Rebecca Hall, Executive Director
P.O. Box 2327
Austin, Texas 78768
Phone: (512) 476-9841
Fax: (512) 476-0130

The Nattie Lee Benson Latin American Collection

Located at the University of Texas at Austin, this renowned collection consists of Nicaraguan books, books about Nicaragua, and resources relating to Nicaraguan Americans. Excellent electronic information resources.

Charles R. Hale, Director
Sid Richardson Hall 1.108
General Libraries
University of Texas
Austin, Texas 78713-7330
Phone: (512) 495-4520
Fax: (512) 495-4568


Cerar, K. Melissa, ed. Teenage Refugees from Nicaragua Speak Out. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 1995.

Chamorro, Edgar. Packaging the Contras: A Case of CIA Disinformation. New York: Institute for Media Analysis, 1987.

Chavez, Leo Ralph. “Outside the Imagined Community: Undocumented Settlers and Experiences of Incorporation.” American Ethnologist, May 1991, 257–78.

Crawley, Eduardo. Nicaragua in Perspective. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.

Funkhouser, Edward. “Migration from Nicaragua: Some Recent Evidence.” World Development 20, no. 8 (1992): 1209–18.

Gobat, Michel. Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua under U.S. Imperial Rule. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

Hart, Dianne Walta. Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant's Story. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1997.

Lancaster, Roger N. Life Is Hard: Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Malone, Michael R. A Nicaraguan Family. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1998.

Solaún, Mauricio. U.S. Intervention and Regime Change in Nicaragua. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300131