Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2018

Degree Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Alexandra Kelly


Although the Contras exhibited appalling human rights violations while accepting hefty sums of money, weapons, logistical support, and U.S. man-power, much literature has succinctly removed any possibility for further analysis as to who the Contras were. It is the objective of this paper to break through this fairly inattentive, dwindling research and delve into the multifaceted, understudied topic of rural peasantry within the Contra conflict, 1979-90. When factoring that peasants constituted the bulk of foot-soldiers in the Contra ranks, their foundation was much more complex than initially understood. Underrepresented and reasonably voiceless in Nicaragua, rural peasants linked together in mass, joining the Contras out of government repression, a mandatory military draft, and agrarian reforms that challenged traditional ways of life. In one-on-one interviews with peasants, reasons for joining reflected familial and community propensities. Studying the peasantry also revealed subtle, overlooked variables in why the Contras were unable to provoke mass change in Nicaragua through a decade of strife. Through the use of interviews, economic data, polling, and newspaper articles, I offer an alternative explanation for the Contra’s failure. The Contra’s image was unable to unify a country filled with disconnectedness between urban and rural. In addition, few battles or saboteur acts ever crossed over into highly populated municipalities, leaving the majority of the population with limited, highly vetted information from the Nicaraguan government. By no means a comprehensive study, this paper attempts to draw a gap in the research for myself and others to re-activate historical discussion.