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In 1979, the Central American nation of Nicaragua, seething with political and economic discontent under an unjust and heavy-handed dictatorship slipped the reigns of autocracy and proceeded through two decades of political and economic growth that included aspects of Marxism, Leninism, Liberation theology, free market reforms, and democracy. It was one of several nations that made up the aptly named “Third Wave” of democratization, which in the late 20th century swept through significant areas of Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia, causing the number of governments classified as “democracies” to nearly triple. In Central America, Nicaragua was nearly unique in making this perilous and dangerous transition.
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