Are NGOs the answer? Two cases of ecotourism development in Nicaragua

Liza Hillel

Document Type Dissertation/Thesis


In April 1997, during a quick visit to Nicaragua from Costa Rica, I arrived in the torn up capital city during a country wide strike. In my attempt to escape social havoc in Managua, I took the last bus leaving the central market heading south towards Granada, before all the roads and major highways closed down. The bus took us as far as Masaya. Roaming around the large public market in Masaya, trying to figure out what to do with myself, stuck in Nicaragua...alone...I met an American Peace Corps Volunteer. He had recently been placed in a small town in the hills above Masaya and was hoping to teach the town about changing their farming techniques to ones that are more sustainable. We talked for a while, he told me the reasons for the strike--how the new Government, Aleman, was trying to reallocate some of the land given to farmers and landless peasants during the Sandinista government, back to the Somoza family and other elite's in the country. The strike was led by the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers who were blocking all major roads and highways. He told me that he felt overwhelmed by his task--to teach this small town to change their farming methods, methods they have been practicing for generations, to ones that were more sustainable. He posed this question to me: "Say while growing up some big orange man came to live in your town and told you and your family and all your friends that you were living wrong, what would you think of that person?"