NEW YORK — Nora Astorga, Nicaragua's U.N. ambassador who lured a general to his death during the Sandinista revolution, has died in Managua of cancer. She was 39.
Astorga, who returned to the Nicaraguan capital from New York early last month because of her illness, died Sunday morning, said a spokesman for Agendas International Inc., a New York-based public relations company representing the leftist Sandinista government.
Julio Icaza, Nicaragua's deputy representative to the United Nations, is serving as acting ambassador, said the spokesman who commented on condition of anonymity.
In Managua in 1978, Astorga induced Gen. Reynaldo Perez Vega, deputy commander of the National Guard, into her bedroom, where anti-government guerrillas cut his throat.
Perez Vega held the post in the regime of President Anastasio Somoza, who was ousted by the Sandinistas in July, 1979.
Astorga said Sandinista accomplices tried to subdue Perez Vega, but that when he resisted, they killed him. The original plan was to kidnap Perez Vega and release him in exchange for 59 Sandinista prisoners, she said.
In 1984, the United States rejected her as the proposed ambassador to the United States. She held the rank of deputy foreign minister at the time. U.S. officials said the Reagan Administration regarded her as unsuitable in view of her involvement in the slaying of Perez Vega. Astorga's appointment as U.N. ambassador was confirmed in February, 1986.
Before the revolution, she earned a doctorate in law at the Catholic University in Managua, and directed legal and personnel matters for an engineering firm there. She also studied at Catholic University in Washington and was fluent in English and Italian.
After the overthrow of Somoza, Astorga became a special minister of justice for the trials of former members of the National Guard.
In an April 10, 1987, speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in San Francisco, Astorga talked about the problems between Nicaragua and the United States, which has supported the Contra rebels in their six-year battle against the Sandinistas.
She said relations were poor because of a "theory of domination that says that a small, poor, underdeveloped country has to depend on one of the two superpowers."
But decades of dependency on the United States, she said, brought Nicaragua poverty and "the most cruel dictatorship in Latin America. . . . So we are not willing to do that again."
Astorga represented Nicaragua in deliberations of the Contadora group, which attempted to end insurgencies in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. She also headed Nicaraguan delegations to international women's conferences in Denmark and Kenya, the 1985 Latin American Economic System in Caracas, Venezuela, and the Latin America Economic Conference in Quito, Ecuador, in 1984.
She was married twice and had four children.