The indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples along Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast, once colonized by the British, have long sought to establish their autonomy vis-a-vis the dominant Spanish-influenced regions of the Pacific coast. The book provides a wide overview of the autonomy process by looking at the historical background of autonomy, claims to land and language rights, and land demarcation and communal forestry projects.
This book seeks to satisfy the globally emerging interest in the idea of autonomy and bi-zonality as an effective mechanism of conflict resolution and protection of minority rights.
The post-Cold War era has witnessed a resurgence of conflictive ethnic and secessionist politics that has placed the taken-for-granted primacy of unitary, sovereign nation-states into question. Along with cases such as Cyprus, Northern Ireland, and the Basque regions of Spain, Nicaragua sought to resolve prolonged and protracted ethnic conflict, issues of minority rights to self-determination, and questions concerning the sovereignty of national states, through an autonomy process that extended beyond a narrow political settlement to include the exercise of cultural rights and control of local resources.
Autonomy on Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast remains highly contested, being simultaneously characterized by progress, setbacks and violent confrontation within a number of fields and involving a multiplicity of actors; local, national and global. This experience offers critical lessons for efforts around the world that seek to resolve long-established and deep-seated ethnic conflict by attempting to reconcile the need for development, usually fostered by national governments, with the protection of minority rights advocated by marginalized minorities living within nation states.