Faculty Speaker Series - Spring 2014

Democracy or Dictatorship?


Carlos Castro  
Professor Carlos Castro  

What makes one country develop into a democracy, and another into a dictatorship? That is the question at the heart of Clark College sociology professor Carlos Castro's lecture, "Borderlines: Political and Economic Differences between Nicaragua and Costa Rica."

Costa Rica is one of the richest countries in Central America while its neighbor, Nicaragua, is one of the poorest. Costa Rica has a liberal democratic system, while Nicaragua is more authoritarian. What led these neighboring countries to develop so differently? Carlos Castro, professor of Sociology, offered his interpretation of why two neighboring countries with strong cultural similarities can differ so dramatically.

"Nicaragua and Costa Rica pose an interesting case study," says Castro. "They are so close and yet so different. The lessons to be drawn from them could apply to many nations and regions of the world wrestling with issues related to social, political, and economic development."

About Professor Carlos Castro

A native of Nicaragua, Carlos Castro graduated cum laude from the University of Oregon with Bachelor of Arts degrees in sociology and economics. Continuing his studies at the University of Oregon, Castro earned a master’s degree in public affairs (MPA), master’s degree in community and regional planning (MCRP) and a PhD in sociology. He began teaching at Clark College in 2006 and received tenure in 2009. An essayist and poet as well as an academic, Castro's work has appeared in such publications as Organization and EnvironmentEl Nuevo DiarioThe American Poetry Review, La Prensa Literaria, Confidencial, and Nuevo Amanecer Cultural. He is currently working on a book comparing and contrasting the development of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, research for which will be the foundation of his Faculty Speaker Series presentation.