Historical Context

A Long History of Civil Conflict
Alegría’s “Accounting” is the poet’s reflection upon the events and people that fill a lifetime. The content of the poem reflects an indeterminate point in time and the locations are many. Because of this, one way to approach her poetry is to try and understand the place that Alegría most closely identifies as her homeland, as well as its crucial influence on her work. Nicaragua was colonized by the Spanish early in the sixteenth century, but it gained its independence from Spain in 1821, as did all of Central America. After 1855, the United States took an active part in controlling Nicaragua, with U.S. troops actively training and supervising the Nicaraguan military forces, which in turn controlled the government of Nicaragua. Alegría’s father opposed this U.S. military interference and supported the rebel forces, and as a result, the family was forced to flee in 1925. The rebellions in Nicaragua did not end with the establishment of a U.S.-supported dictator, General Somoza, in 1934, but they were better suppressed under his leadership. After Somoza was assassinated in 1956, his sons continued as dictators, and like their father, bled the country of its wealth and resources. As the Somoza regime became wealthier, the people became poorer and more ravaged by the lack of the most basic necessities. The Samozas allocated little money to education, and since most Nicaraguan children needed to work to help support their families, few children were able to attend the few schools that were available. The government spent almost no money on basic infrastructure. Besides the malnutrition that afflicted the poor, lack of proper sanitation and limited access to health care led to many outbreaks of dysentery, which was a leading cause of death. Children also died of many of the diseases that modern medicine now prevents, such as tetanus and measles. Because of the economic oppression of the people, opposition to the Samoza...

(The entire section is 807 words.)