The exuberance of military victory quickly faded as the new leaders struggled to convert revolutionary fervor into support for the new nation they wanted to build. They were starting from scratch: Somoza had run Nicaragua  as his own personal farm, and overthrowing him had implied dismantling the national economy.
The sweeping economic, political, and social reforms of the Sandinista revolution therefore made Nicaragua a real-time social experiment, and the entire world looked on with anticipation and anxiety.
The new Nicaraguan government was a battleground of competing interests exacerbated by the dire need to reactivate the economy. The “Group of Nine” fatigue-clad FSLN comandantes elbowed a supporting conservative alliance aside and revealed their legendary Plan 80, which revealed the FSLN as Marxist-Leninist and their planned economy as a delicate balance between private ownership ceding to increasing state control.
Appalled, betrayed, and frequently victimized as “supporters of the dictator,” the upper class abandoned ship and fled to Miami, where they stayed for a decade. Their personal boycott of the Revolution hastened its demise.
Land reform proceeded immediately. The Sandinistas confiscated two million acres of Somoza’s holdings and distributed it to the poor for farming. Though this was true social revolution, the environmental impact of previously unexploited and delicate hillsides being cleared and planted was massive deforestation and erosion. Worse, the Sandinista elite kept most profitable lands for themselves, a hypocrisy that did not go unnoticed.
A massive and world-acclaimed literacy campaign saw thousands of volunteers—typically zealous university students—teaching reading, writing, and basic math skills to the illiterate majority. The literacy rate soared to nearly 90 percent, but the Cuban-inspired mix of education and revolutionary propaganda meant many campesinos’ first reading lessons taught revolutionary dogma, and the math exercises frequently involved counting items like rifles and tanks.
Nonetheless, the literacy campaign encouraged young idealists to explore and take pride in their own country and culture, and has reinforced Nicaragua’s nationalism and self-identity to the present.