Gender, elections, terrorism: the geopolitical enframing of the 2001 Nicaraguan elections

J. Cupples, I. Larios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the interplay of the global and the local through a critical geopolitical analysis of the 2001 Nicaraguan elections, held just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. A number of commentators have suggested that the Bush administration manipulated the electoral process in the wake of 9/11 to prevent a Sandinista victory. We argue in contrast that, despite the resurfacing of historical US anxiety towards the FSLN and their leader, Daniel Ortega, the United States government did not directly intervene to influence the electoral outcome. We do argue however that September 11 had an indirect but decisive impact on the elections in the sense that it facilitated an unethical propaganda campaign by the right and the ruling Liberal party which included images of mutilated corpses, of empty supermarkets and of the associations between Ortega and Arab leaders such as Arafat, Gadaffi and Hussein. Daniel Ortega entered the electoral campaign with his position as party leader highly contested not only by two previous electoral defeats in 1990 and 1996, but also as a result of the allegations of sexual assault made against him by his stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Narváez. Although the polls prior to September 11 suggested that the presidential race was going to be too close to call, Daniel Ortega and the FSLN suffered an overwhelming electoral defeat. We suggest that the electoral outcome had not so much to do with the terrorist attacks in the United States but more with a propaganda terrorism carried out within Nicaragua and that this was a process mediated by gender and sexual politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-339
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005


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