An Illness called Managua
Working Paper No : 37 (series 2)
Author : Dennis Rodgers
Date : May 2008
This paper focuses on Managua's urban development in order to explore the underlying dynamics of post-revolutionary Nicaraguan society, using the city's evolution as a window onto the evolution of the country's political economy, but also highlighting its role as a major contributing factor shaping the specific transformations that this particular political economy has undergone. It begins by providing a view from barrio Luis Fanor Hernandez, a low-income neighbourhood in the city which graphically encapsulates the general movement of Nicaraguan society from a sense of revolution-fuelled collective purpose in the 1970s and 1980s to more individualised and segregated socio-spatial practices in the 1990s and 2000s. The paper then moves on to consider Managua's development more broadly in order to seek further insights into the underlying nature of this particular trajectory. The changing morphology of the city, its determinants, and the key actors involved, all point to salient elements to be taken into account in order to attain a more nuanced comprehension of the logic of post-revolutionary Nicaragua, which is then explored in a third section. What emerges starkly from this threefold panorama is that while the particular urban development of Managua can be seen as a reflection of the persistent oligarchic structure of Nicaraguan society, it is also a major pathological factor - an 'illness', one might say - that contributes to the perpetuation of this oligarchic configuration, albeit in a renewed form.