One of the first moves by the new regime in Nicaragua was to set up a ministry to introduce agrarian reform.
One of the first moves by the new regime in Nicaragua was to set up a ministry to introduce agrarian reform. But far-reaching reforms have been made less urgent by the extent of the former President Samoza's estates.
SYNOPSIS: The estates abandoned by General Somoza and other wealthy families will be difficult to return to production. Many were jumped by a fierce counter-attack by pro-Somoza forces, and in the chaos of the revolution vital crops of cotton were not sown. Coffee, for which the country depends for a quarter of its foreign earnings, had not been harvested. While the battles raged, and wealthy landowners looted bank accounts and fled, the crops were left untended.
This estate is part of about one and a half million acres (600 thousand hectares) owned by the Somoza family and now seized and nationalised by the Sandinista government. Its been divided and sub-leased to fifteen families. A survey shows that General Somoza owned so much land that the Managua government's immediate needs for farmland can be satisfied. And its distribution to farming families has helped revive agricultural production.
The extend of the Somoza estates has also eased a crises that threatened to split the five-member Sandinist government. Proposals to turn all farmland into co-operative prompted private enterprise groups to protest to protest that the country's leaders had moved too far to the left. But now the nationalisation of the Somoza estates has removed the pressure for more far-reaching land reforms.