Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Nicaragua Information Center Records,
Collection Number: BANC MSS 92/807 cz
Nicaragua Information Center
Number of containers: 20 cartons, 1 oversize box
Linear feet: 25.3
The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please
consult the Library's online catalog.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and Spanish
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Manuscripts Division.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical
items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Nicaragua Information Center records, BANC MSS 92/807 cz, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Materials Cataloged Separately
- Selected printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft
The Records of the Nicaragua Information Center were given to The Bancroft Library on October 12,
1992 by Rick Lewis.
Between 1980 and 1991, the Nicaragua Information Center played a leading role in coordinating activities
in support of the Sandinista government and the people of Nicaragua and in opposing the policies of the
United States government, which supported the Contra insurgency. During the 1980s, Nicaragua support
work was a key focus of progressive political activity in the Bay Area and throughout the United States.
The Nicaragua Information Center began as a student organization at the University of
California, Berkeley. The organization moved off campus in 1981, and eventually grew
large enough to support a full-time paid staff of five, in addition to many volunteers. NIC published
Nicaraguan Perspectives, an important national magazine on Nicaragua
between 1980 and 1991. NIC also formed the Berkeley-Leon Sister City Association in
The Center provided alternative information about Nicaragua, coordinated opposition to U.S. policy in the
Bay Area and much of the west, and played an active role both in raising material support for Nicaragua
and facilitating travel by individuals to and from Nicaragua. In addition, the Nicaragua Information
Center served as the Pacific Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Nicaragua Network
from 1983 through 1992. In this role, NIC played an influential role in developing and
coordinating national policy for the movement in support of the Sandinista regime. This included
anti-Contra aid agitation and person-to-person exchanges. Through delegations and work brigades, the
Center helped hundreds of people travel to Nicaragua. Working with various coalitions, the Nicaragua
Information Center played a central role in the political struggle against aid to the Nicaraguan Contras
and raising material support for Nicaragua.
The elections in Nicaragua in 1990 brought about a transfer of power from the Sandinistas to a more
conservative regime. This shift had a dramatic impact on the Nicaragua support movement, severely
reducing financial support for organizations such as the Nicaragua Information Center which had been
identified with the Sandinista movement. In June 1991, the Nicaragua Information Center closed its
doors. While NIC continued to operate on a reduced level after this date, its lack of office space and
funding have made its resources unavailable to the public.
Excerpted from a background piece by Rick Lewis
Scope and Content
The records of the Nicaragua Information Center span the decade of its operation, beginning in 1980
through its closure in 1991. They consist primarily of NIC's operational, working files, including
information about other organizations and political events of the decade, and its resource library,
which was available for public use.
The Nicaragua Information Center strove to collect and make available to the public information about
Nicaragua by monitoring both the mainstream media and less accessible, alternative sources of
information, including publications from Nicaragua and other countries. The Center hoped to empower
activists interested in supporting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua by providing access to facts
and perspectives on the situation in that country which could be used to counter the negative picture
painted by the U.S. government and its Contra allies. The focal point of the Center's outreach to the
public was the Clippings File, organized by subject. Since the emphasis was upon facilitating quick
access to information, thereby fostering effective action, inconsistency and redundancy were acceptable,
and even desirable, in the organization of the Center's files and Library.
With only a small paid staff and heavy reliance on volunteer activists, as well as changing personnel and
an increasingly broad scope of responsibility, changes in filing practices and strategies are obvious
throughout. The organization of the collection attempts to preserve the internal structure of the
Center's files. Unfiled documents, as well as documents collected by individuals active at the Center
but organized outside the Center's own filing system have been integrated, with the ideal of preserving
the integrity of that structure whenever possible. Duplicate materials have been minimized, although
information about a given topic or event will often be found in more than one location within the
Series 1 of the Nicaragua Information Center's files was organized in congruence with the Center's
committee structure. Since many activities of the Center were not generated by standing committees, but
rather by ad hoc events committees, or through the Coordinating Committee, there is only a relatively
small amount of material found here. More information about activities and events NIC coordinated or in
which its members participated is filed in an Events section, which forms Series 2.
NIC was governed by its coordinator, other paid staff, and its coordinating committee. The files of these
administrative entities form the hub of Series 3: Internal Organization. Included here are office
manuals, orientation information and other reference works including speeches, analytical papers and
correspondence with other organizations, as well as records of the coordinator and coordinating
committee. The dominance of the central administrative structure in the Center's existence is evident in
the expansion of these files in preference to Events and Other Organizations files. During the early
years, these records reflect the ongoing effort to keep abreast of changes in U.C. Berkeley campus
regulations, and to supply documentation to justify NIC's status as a student organization. Fundraising,
another major focus, is amply documented, underscoring the Center's energetic pursuit of foundation
Series 4: Other Organizations, consists of printed material and correspondence from many organizations
involved both in Latin America support work and a wide variety of other political and social causes. The
central importance of the Nicaraguan issue to the political left in the United States led to its
inclusion with many other causes in broad
coalition approaches. The
Nicaragua Information Center was intersted in staying informed about and involved with other causes and
organizatrions on the political left; activists around other issues were eager to link their causes to
the prominent struggle being waged in defense of the Nicaraguan Revolution.
Finally, Series 5: Clippings File, a collection of articles, pamphlets, and other miscellaneous
publications, formed the heart of the Library that the Nicaragua Information Center maintained for the
use of activists and scholars. Its holdings, in both English and Spanish, provided a concentration of
material on many aspects of Central American economics, culture, history, and politics, including many
obscure pamphlets and other documents from Niaragua. In addition, there are many issues of Nicaraguan
newspapers, some magazines, and a large number of unsorted clippings. Although many of the clippings are
taken from more obscure newspapers and journals, the Center regularly clipped from the
San Francisco Chronicle,
San Francisco Examiner,
San Jose Mercury News,
Los Angeles Times,
New York Times, and
Wall Street Journal, and the major national news magazines. Insofar as was
possible, unsorted materials have been integrated into the collection in proximity to material with
related subject matter.