An anecdotal memoir by the present democratically elected leader of Nicaragua. Chamorro came to politics accidentally....


DREAMS OF THE HEART: The Autobiography of President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro of Nicaragua

An anecdotal memoir by the present democratically elected leader of Nicaragua. Chamorro came to politics accidentally. Although born, like her husband, into the ""top echelons of Nicaragua's social structure,"" the descendant of European landowners, she came to sympathize with the plight of the Indian majority after marrying Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of the liberal newspaper La Prensa. Pedro's murder in 1978 at the hands of the government of Anastasio Somoza, whom he had regularly criticized in print, thrust her into the tumult of revolutionary politics. After the Sandinista rebellion overthrew Somoza, Chamorro became a leader of the loyal opposition, watching as Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega ""turned into a black-shirted party boss with a red bandana around his neck."" Many of her fellow citizens evidently shared her dismay, and she became president of the country, having won by a large margin in a 1990 race thought certain to go to the Sandinistas. (""Theirs,"" she points out, ""was a $20 million campaign handled by a top American public relations team, ours a campaign run on a shoestring budget."") Among the high points of the book are Chamorro's firsthand reports of infighting among the Sandinista leadership, torn by complex rivalries that led one hero of the war against Somoza, Comandante Zero, to be excluded from postwar rule. She also provides ample--and remarkable--details on the labyrinthine ways in which American aid dollars filtered down to the coffers of democratic organizations, certainly less generously than they did to the contra fighters. Chamorro is sometimes too fond of unmeaty apothegms, and her book is marred by a translation that is at times jarringly unidiomatic. Yet it provides a close look at the inner workings of a government and a nation in transition, led by a woman of obvious bravery and good will.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996