In 2001, my main task in Nicaragua was to be a “Karen”: the obnoxious, entitled white woman who uses her privilege to get her way. Although I was only 25, I was able to lend my white face, my American accent and my pushy “get-me-your-manager” skills to women’s cooperatives to gain them access to and help them navigate the Nicaraguan bureaucratic system.
This was during the neoliberal years in Nicaragua, a time when the women we worked with – poor, working women – were simply dismissed by virtually any institution. Following on the popular Sandinista Revolution of the 1980s led by grassroots movements, the neoliberal governments from 1990 to 2006 were led by oligarchical elites who not only looked to the U.S. embassy for policy guidance, but culturally deferred to the U.S. as well.
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