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Chamorro, Violeta (1929–)

Chamorro, Violeta (1929–)

Nicaraguan president. Born Violeta Barrios in Rivas, Nicaragua, Oct 18, 1929; dau. of Carlos Barrios and Amelia (Sacasa) Barrios, members of the landowning elite; m. Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal (revolutionary), 1950; children: Pedro Joaquin ("Quinto"); Carlos Fernando; Claudia Chamorro; Cristiana Chamorro.

Nicaraguan political leader, president of Nicaragua (1990–96), who was thrust into politics as a result of her husband's assassination and the triumph of the Sandinista revolution; married Pedro Chamorro (1950), publisher of La Prensa, who for many years would be involved in an ill-fated rebellion against Somoza and spend months and years in jail; after husband founded a coalition of anti-Somoza elements as the Democratic Union of Liberation (UDEL, 1973), often traveled with him to rural areas where they attended meetings and met with the poor; while in Miami (Jan 10, 1978), learned of husband's assassination; as the new publisher of La Prensa, continued to attack the Somoza regime; when he had La Prensa building burned (1979), continued to publish in another city; respected by anti-Somoza Nicaraguans as the "noble widow," her honesty and courage in the face of the dictatorship was an inspiration when hopes seemed to fade; when Somoza fled, was asked to join the new Ortega government, dominated by the radical Sandinistas, as a more moderate member of its provisional executive junta; resigned from the junta after only 9 months because of the increasingly militant Ortega administration; became increasingly disenchanted with Sandinista policies, criticizing them caustically in La Prensa; after election of Ortega as Nicaraguan president (1984), endured pressure against La Prensa, which was frequently shut down; refusing to bow to the pressure, published critiques in other journals; backed by anti-Sandinista forces which had created a coalition of 14 parties calling itself the National Opposition Union (UNO), won the presidential election (1990); acting as both head of state and government, took steps from the 1st day to heal the nation's wounds, calling for a general amnesty for all political crimes, which included those individuals responsible for husband's assassination; by end of her tenure (1996), had achieved significant constitutional reforms, including a permanent prohibition of obligatory military service and guarantees of private property rights.

See also (with Sonia Cruz de Baltodano and Guido Fernandez) Dreams of the Heart: The Autobiography of President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro of Nicaragua (Simon & Schuster, 1996); and Women in World History.

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