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Nicaragua's New President

April 26, 1990| Times Staff and Wire Reports

President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, 60, the daughter of wealthy landowners, was born Oct. 18, 1929, in Rivas, a small town about 18 miles from the border with Costa Rica.

She is the widow of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, publisher of the opposition newspaper La Prensa, whose assassination in 1978 helped spark the revolution that brought the outgoing Sandinistas to power.

Pedro Chamorro was one of the most prominent opponents of the Somoza family dictatorship. He was gunned down presumably on orders from dictator Anastasio Somoza. Violeta Chamorro took over the newspaper immediately after her husband's death.

When Somoza was ousted in July, 1979, Chamorro was a member of the first ruling junta. She quit after nine months, citing poor health but later making clear she had left because of disillusionment with the Sandinistas.

Chamorro then devoted herself to La Prensa, turning it into a vehement opponent of the Sandinistas, who closed it for 15 months starting in June, 1986.

The 14-party National Opposition Union (UNO) chose her as its presidential candidate in September, 1989. Her candidacy was backed by the Bush Administration. In elections Feb. 25, she defeated President Daniel Ortega, winning 55.2% of the vote.

Her family reflects the political division in the country. One daughter, Claudia, remains in the Sandinista camp, and a son, Carlos Fernando, is publisher of the Sandinista party newspaper Barricada.

Her oldest son, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, was a leader of the U.S.-backed Contras, and her other daughter, Cristiana, is editor of La Prensa. Pedro Chamorro Barrios and Cristiana's husband, Antonio Lacayo, are among her political advisers.

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