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Security in Nicaragua: Central America's Exception?

By Roberto Cajina
December 7, 2012

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Una versión de este estudio en español se encuentra aquí.

During the past four decades of the twentieth century, Nicaragua, El Salvador,  and Guatemala experienced civil wars that differed in their nature, intensity, and duration. When those wars ended, it was logical to assume that political violence would be followed by a “firm and lasting peace” (Esquipulas II, 1987) that would make Central America a “region of peace, freedom, democracy and development” (Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America, 1995).

Criminal violence, however, took hold in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,—  but not in Nicaragua, which has managed to maintain relatively low levels of insecurity in a region that has been cited as “the most violent in the world.” Why? What factors account for this difference? Was the upsurge of criminal violence an unprecedented phenomenon in the Northern Triangle? Have the countries of the Southern Triangle stood apart from such violence? Is this a new development in the countries of the isthmus? These are some of the questions that this paper seeks to answer.