The New Nicaragua: Lessons in Development, Democracy, and Nation-Building for the United States

In This Review

The New Nicaragua: Lessons in Development, Democracy, and Nation-Building for the United States (PSI Reports)
By Steven E. Hendrix
Praeger, 2009
286 pp. $59.95
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In this impassioned political memoir, the man who led the U.S. Agency for International Development's democracy-promotion programs during the 2006 presidential campaign in Nicaragua details just what political nation building means at the grass-roots level. With purposeful transparency, Hendrix reveals the trail of money and technical assistance that flowed from U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations to Nicaraguans fighting for fair elections, integrity in government, a more effective judiciary, and a vibrant civil society. In his energetic efforts, Hendrix mobilized the impressive network of democracy-promotion specialists that USAID has nurtured around the Western Hemisphere. Hendrix adamantly rejects charges of interventionism and insists that his motives were not "right versus left" but rather "right versus wrong." On election day, Nicaraguan voters preferred one of the "wrong" candidates, awarding the United States' nemesis Daniel Ortega a slim plurality. Yet Nicaragua remains a vigorous, if imperfect, democracy, a work in progress that should give Hendrix some comfort.

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