The ongoing economic crisis in Nicaragua has been comparable in severity and duration to the desperate situation in the remainder of Central America.1 Since at least 1980, all five countries have experienced deteriorating external accounts and domestic stagflation. Although the immediate economic problems faced by these countries have been similar, their causes have been different. Some factors of external origin (increased real international interest rates, declining external terms of trade, etc.) have negatively affected all of these countries; at the same time, United States foreign policy, war, and domestic political upheaval have had less uniform consequences in the region. Naturally, then, all countries in the region have been forced to adopt programs of economic stabilization and adjustment; however, because these programs have been forged under radically different economic and political conditions, they have had contrasting effects on domestic social sectors and classes.2