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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 135 / 153

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Just as the economy began to show some signs of recovery from years of war, Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998 and profoundly set back development efforts, as all available resources had to be husbanded to reconstruct much of Nicaragua's infrastructure.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch killed more than 9,000 people, left 2 million people homeless, and caused $10 billion in damages. Many people fled to the U.S., which offered Nicaraguans an immigration amnesty program until July 1999.

Economic malaise compounded by allegations of corruption and illegal enrichment undermined the credibility of the Aleman   government.  Dissatisfaction among voters was registered at the polls, resulting in Sandinista victories in Managua and nine of 17 provincial capitals in municipal elections in November 2000.

In Nov. 2001 presidential elections, Enrique Bolaños, the ruling Liberal party leader, defeated Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista leader who had attempted a comeback after his defeat in 1990. The Sandinistas elected Ortega as party head in March 2002, despite his series of losses in recent presidential elections.

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