Nicaragua Divided: La Prensa and the Chamorro Legacy

Nicaragua Divided: La Prensa and the Chamorro Legacy

Nicaragua Divided: La Prensa and the Chamorro Legacy

Nicaragua Divided: La Prensa and the Chamorro Legacy

Synopsis

"A unique and insightful presentation of the essential writings and ideas of Chamorro (very well translated)...clearly and gracefully written. Edmisten puts current Nicaraguan politics into perspective and gives the reader a sense of the complexities of the present situation."--Charles Ameringer, Pennsylvania State University

In the late summer of 1989, a coalition of anti-Sandinistas nominated Violeta Chamorro to challenge Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in the February 1990 elections. In this story of Chamorro's late husband, La Prensa publisher and editor Pedro Joaquén Chamorro, and of their family, Patricia Edmisten clarifies the interrelationship of family, politics, and economics critical to an understanding of the Nicaraguan conflict and people. As a Time article has suggested, "The private pain of the Chamorro family is a microcosm of Nicaragua's national agony."

The book's fulcrum is Chamorro's 1978 assassination, an event that galvanized anti-Somoza forces and brought the Sandinista front to power. Edmisten traces the family's fortunes from the beginnings of the antagonism between the Chamorros and Somozas to the Iran-Contra affair and the present ideological division among the Chamorros, a division Edmisten finds typical of Nicaraguan families today and one that reflects the polarity in Nicaraguan society.

Into the historical narrative Edmisten weaves gracefully translated passages from Chamorro's writings and a touching selection of her interviews with Violeta Chamorro and other family members and La Prensa employees, along with photographs of the family and of historic La Prensa front pages. Although the work is carefully documented, its journalistic style gives it special appeal for the general reader.

Associate professor of education at the University of West Florida, Patricia Edmisten first visited Nicaragua in 1981 with an Oxfam-America study group.

"A unique and insightful presentation of the essential writings and ideas of Chamorro (very well translated)...clearly and gracefully written. Edmisten puts current Nicaraguan politics into perspective and gives the reader a sense of the complexities of the

Excerpt

I went to Nicaragua for the first time in 1981 with a small group of professors and students. Oxfam-America, an independent development agency located in Boston, sponsored the group whose purpose was to study the food production policies of the new Sandinista government.

At the time of the trip I was preparing teachers to work with handicapped children. As a result of two years in Peru, where I worked with malnourished children as a Peace Corps volunteer, I was very interested in the relationship between malnutrition and subsequent intellectual and physical development. I was also interested in the political, economic, cultural, and educational patterns that permitted this human abuse. The Oxfam tour provided me with an excellent opportunity to see what the new Nicaraguan government planned to do to reverse these historic, unjust conditions.

In 1981 Nicaraguans were honoring the third anniversary of the death of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, publisher and editor of La Prensa, whose assassination was said to have triggered the revolution of 1978-79. I read reprints of his combative essays that urged social reforms to benefit the poor. His writings were strongly critical of the corruption of the Somoza regime.

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