Journalism •  Latin America •  Photography •  Politics and Anthropology

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Nicaragua Before Now: Factory Work, Farming, and Fishing in a Low-wage Global Economy

Nell Farrell

When Nell Farrell traveled to Nicaragua in the fall of 2005 the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) had recently been passed in the U.S. Congress and was still being debated by the Nicaraguan Asamblea Nacional. Farrell spent three months photographing and interviewing young working people who would be affected by the agreement and whose lives were already shaped by the low-wage global economy. Focusing on workers in four regions--young women in the factories of Managua's Free Trade Zone, dairy farmers and cattlemen in the interior state of Matagalpa, laborers in the sugarcane fields of Chinandega, and indigenous lobster divers on the Miskito Coast--this project investigates how globalization, with all of its economic and cultural implications, comes to bear on the young generation of Nicaraguans who share a birthday with the revolution that attracted such intense foreign attention from the late 1970s to 1990.

The impact of CAFTA for distant countries like Nicaragua, particularly in light of the massive trade imbalance between those countries and the U.S., is often difficult for Americans to comprehend. Aiming to bridge that gap, Farrell weaves together interviews, intimate photographs, and her own observations to illustrate the relationship between Nicaraguan laborers, international politics, and global markets.


Nell Farrell is a documentary photographer and writer specializing in Latin American and the American Southwest.


"Outstanding b&w photographs of young adults depict their living and working conditions, providing a window into daily life in a Central American country."


Book News Inc.

7.75 x 10 in. 256 pages 102 halftones, 1 map, 1 chart