Violeta Chamorro
Overview
 
Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro (born October 18, 1929) is a Nicaraguan
Nicaraguan
Nicaraguans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Nicaragua. Most Nicaraguans live in Nicaragua, although there is also a significant Nicaraguan diaspora, particularly in Costa Rica and the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world...

 political leader, former president and publisher. She became president of Nicaragua
President of Nicaragua
The position of President of Nicaragua was created in the Constitution of 1854. From 1825 until the Constitution of 1838 the title of the position was known as Head of State and from 1838 to 1854 as Supreme Director .-Heads of State of Nicaragua within the Federal Republic of Central America...

 on April 25, 1990, when she unseated Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

. She was supported by many, including a fourteen-party anti-Sandinista alliance known as the National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union was a wide-range cartel of opposition parties formed to contest Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega in 1990 election. Its candidate Violeta Chamorro eventually won the race...

 (Unión Nacional Oppositora, UNO), an alliance that ranged from conservatives
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and liberals
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 to communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. She left office on January 10, 1997. Chamorro was the first and only woman to hold that position in Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

.
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Encyclopedia
Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro (born October 18, 1929) is a Nicaraguan
Nicaraguan
Nicaraguans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Nicaragua. Most Nicaraguans live in Nicaragua, although there is also a significant Nicaraguan diaspora, particularly in Costa Rica and the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world...

 political leader, former president and publisher. She became president of Nicaragua
President of Nicaragua
The position of President of Nicaragua was created in the Constitution of 1854. From 1825 until the Constitution of 1838 the title of the position was known as Head of State and from 1838 to 1854 as Supreme Director .-Heads of State of Nicaragua within the Federal Republic of Central America...

 on April 25, 1990, when she unseated Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

. She was supported by many, including a fourteen-party anti-Sandinista alliance known as the National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union was a wide-range cartel of opposition parties formed to contest Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega in 1990 election. Its candidate Violeta Chamorro eventually won the race...

 (Unión Nacional Oppositora, UNO), an alliance that ranged from conservatives
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and liberals
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 to communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. She left office on January 10, 1997. Chamorro was the first and only woman to hold that position in Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

. Chamorro was the first elected female head of state in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, the second in the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

 after Iceland's
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is an Icelandic politician who served as the fourth President of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. In addition to being both Iceland's and Europe's first female president, she was the world's first democratically elected female head of state...

 and the fifth in the world after the elections of Agatha Barbara
Agatha Barbara
Agatha Barbara was a Maltese politician, having served as a Labour Member of Parliament and Minister, and President of Malta. She was the first and, to date, the only female President of Malta.-Early life:...

 in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, Elisabeth Kopp
Elisabeth Kopp
Elisabeth Kopp is a Swiss politician and the first woman elected to the Swiss Federal Council .Elisabeth Kopp grew up in Bern. After finishing her law studies in 1960 she married Hans W. Kopp...

 in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Corazon Aquino
Corazon Aquino
Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office in Philippine history. She is best remembered for leading the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines...

 in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. She is the first and only woman in the world to defeat an incumbent president.

Personal life

Chamorro was born in 1929 to a wealthy family in Rivas, a small city near the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. She was educated in private Catholic schools in Granada and Managua. Chamorro's parents wanted her to perfect her English and sent her to an American boarding school. She first attended Our Lady of the Lake University
Our Lady of the Lake University
Our Lady of the Lake University is an independent Catholic, co-ed university located in San Antonio, Texas, United States. It was founded in 1895 by the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence, a religious order originating in Lorraine, France, during the 18th century...

 in San Antonio, Texas, and then transferred to Blackstone College for Girls
Blackstone College for Girls
Blackstone College for Girls was a private, religious school for young women in Blackstone, Nottoway County, Virginia. The school operated under the auspices of the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South between 1894 and 1950. Virginia's Department of Historic Resources...

 in Virginia. In June 1947, her father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and after her father's death she returned to Nicaragua, cutting her schooling in the United States short. She met Pedro Joaquín Chamorro in 1949 and they married in 1950, with whom she had five children. In 1952, Chamorro's husband, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, took over the anti-Somoza
Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García was officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1937 to 1 May 1947 and from 21 May 1950 to 29 September 1956, but ruled effectively as dictator from 1936 until his assassination.-Biography:Somoza was born in San Marcos, Carazo Department in Nicaragua, the son of...

 newspaper La Prensa
La Prensa (Managua)
La Prensa is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. Its current daily circulation is placed at 42,000.-Early years:La Prensa was founded by Pedro Belli, Gavry Rivas and Enrique Belli on March 2, 1926...

and was frequently jailed for its content. She took over the newspaper after her husband's assassination on Jan. 10th 1978.

Over the years, Chamorro's family has been split into feuding factions based upon political association. Two of her children, Pedro and Cristiana, worked at La Prensa (the press), although Pedro left Nicaragua in 1984 to join the contras. Her other children were active Sandinistas; Claudia was ambassador to Costa Rica and Carlos became the editor of the FSLN daily newspaper Barricada. In spite of the conflicting political views of her children, Chamorro encouraged and hosted family dinners during which she insisted political affiliations were temporarily forgotten in the interest of family harmony.

Rise to power

Violeta Chamorro's rise to power began with the assassination of her husband when she took over as editor La Prensa. The paper was traditionally anti-Somoza, and initially backed the Sandinistas. As a result, she was invited to join the Sandinista First Coalition Junta, however she resigned in 1980 when she claimed to have felt slighted and manipulated by the junta, and shocked by their socialist agenda. She then turned to the opposition: the Contras
Contras
The contras is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship...

. As a result La Prensa was temporarily shut down. During that time, Chamorro was appointed the presidential candidate for UNO
National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union was a wide-range cartel of opposition parties formed to contest Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega in 1990 election. Its candidate Violeta Chamorro eventually won the race...

.

Her rise to power can be attributed to more than her affiliation with La Prensa, and in part was the result of the lack of international support for the Sandinista regime, the tiring of the masses of civil war, the symbol she meant to the people, and her strong campaign focus on being the opposition rather than trying to convince people to accept a political program. Furthermore, Chamorro was portrayed as the mother figure, a hero, and a martyr whereas Ortega was depicted as a macho rooster.

President George H.W. Bush took office in the United States and demanded a democratic government in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas did not have strong international allies to help them anymore, so they were at the mercy of the United States.

The scheduled 1990 elections were about to take place, and opposition parties took advantage of this opportunity to run and the UNO was created, combining the fourteen most prominent political parties in the country. Violeta Chamorro was selected as their candidate.

At the beginning, no one thought she could win against the government-financed campaign Ortega was running, but in the final days, she was able to defeat the incumbent president. The United States Embassy spent more than $1 million on her behalf. A broad desire for an end to the 11- year long civil war led to her besting Ortega in the elections. Upon her election, the United States stopped funding the insurgents better known as "Contras."

Presidency

In 1990, after nearly a decade of civil warfare and economic sanctions, Chamorro became the presidential candidate of the National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union was a wide-range cartel of opposition parties formed to contest Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega in 1990 election. Its candidate Violeta Chamorro eventually won the race...

 (UNO), a coalition of 14 political parties that ran against the Sandinistas in that year's national elections. Chamorro won the election with a 55% victory over the incumbent, Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

. These elections were internationally monitored and provided a relatively smooth transition. The elections were known for being tremendously influenced by the United States: in addition to the White House's insistence that the embargo would continue if Chamorro were not elected, the White House also contributed $9 Million to Chamorro's UNO party. Chamorro's presidency is primarily known for the peace her election allowed for war-ravaged Nicaragua, as the US was expected to continue funding the Contras (and maintain the embargo) if she did not win. When Chamorro was sworn in, it marked the first time in decades that a sitting government had peacefully surrendered power to the opposition.

Chamorro’s peace reforms are perhaps her most enduring. Most noteworthy was her official declaration of the end of the war; she maintained this peace by a reduction in the size and power of the military, an end to the national draft, and the demobilization of the military. This demobilization included the removal of the US-backed Contras
Contras
The contras is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship...

 thereby leaving the Sandinistas with no one to fight, and therefore creating a highly effective peace. Chamorro additionally allowed for the Sandinista’s agrarian reform movement’s redistribution of land to be maintained, and retained Daniel Ortega’s brother, Humberto Ortega
Humberto Ortega
General Humberto Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan military leader, often self-called leading Latin American revolutionary strategist, and published writer.-Biography:...

, as a military leader. While Chamorro received criticism for this accusing her of supporting the Sandinistas, it proved to be a valuable political move. Chamorro also granted unconditional amnesties for political crimes, resulting in little room for protest from the Sandinistas, and creating a smooth transition of power. The only time the “recontras” attempted to resurface was in 1994, and Chamorro quickly suppressed the violence through a peace agreement. Chamorro’s fierce weapon-buying campaign eradicated the threat of persisting violence, and all weapons were covered in concrete at the Plaza de la Paz (Peace Square), specifically built in downtown Managua to symbolize “never again.”

The Nicaraguan civil war devastated the economy, and Chamorro did succeed in developing general economic stability. Chamorro controlled hyperinflation and attempted to turn to a neoliberal model outlined by the Mayorga Plan by attempting to re-integrate Nicaragua into the world market, increase foreign investment while reducing foreign backing, and increase privatization, however this plan was very unpopular in Nicaragua. The plan failed to solve the overwhelming economic devastation of Nicaragua and was coupled with a rise in unemployment and underemployment. Further aggravating the plight of the poor, in order to control inflation Chamorro was forced to cut government spending by eliminating social programs, particularly for females, though she did encourage the development of a strong educational system. Chamorro was also criticized for rejecting constitutional reforms that included a prohibition of nepotism, a requirement for legislative approval to tax and spend money, a decrease in the length of the presidential term from six to five years, and the expansion of constitutional liberties.

Relations with the United States

The United States contributed to the 1990 election that brought Violeta Chamorro to power as they allocated $9 million to aid her party and created systems that monitored the electoral process. Additionally, when Chamorro was elected, George H.W. Bush removed the embargo that Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 had imposed during Sandinista rule and promised economic aid to the country. Some people in Chamorro’s campaign team were hoping to get $1 billion worth of aid from the United States to help rebuild the country after years of civil war. However, the Bush administration instead gave $300 million to the country in the first year of Chamorro’s presidency, 1990, and $241 million the year after. Given the devastation that Nicaragua had faced, this amount of aid was not enough to make any serious improvement.
Chamorro’s presidency faced decreased US interest to the point that when Chamorro came to the US in April 1991 to ask Congress for more economic aid, few members even showed up to listen to her. Because the Sandinistas were defeated and peace talks were being established, U.S. foreign policy did not treat Nicaragua with as much importance anymore.

In 1992, Senator Jesse Helms worked to cut off financial aid to Nicaragua. Helms stated in his Senate report that the Sandinistas were still controlling much of the Nicaraguan government and suggested that the government replace all former Sandinista officers with ex-contras, replace all judges, and return all US property that was taken from US citizens during the revolution. Chamorro’s administration denied the allegations while still trying to meet Helms’ demands. Helms ended up winning and the US government denied Nicaragua the $104 million that they had been promised for that year. Predictably, the aid cut-off, subsequent freeze, and Helms' demands were put forward in October, the month after Chamorro withdrew the compensation claims associated with the US vs. Nicaragua verdict.

Awards

  • Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing from the Rochester Institute of Technology
    Rochester Institute of Technology
    The Rochester Institute of Technology is a private university, located within the town of Henrietta in metropolitan Rochester, New York, United States...

    .
  • 1986 - Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
  • 1991 - Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy.
  • 1997 - Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation.
  • 2001 - Award for Leadership in Global Trade

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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