|Death: ||Feb. 14, 1988|
Nora Astorga, a Sandinista Hero And Delegate to U.N., Dies at 39-
Nora Astorga, Nicaragua's chief delegate to the United Nations and one of her Government's leading voices on the international scene, died of cancer yesterday in a Managua hospital. Thirty-nine years old, she had been one of the Sandinistas' leading guerrilla heroes in the revolution that overthrew the Somoza regime in July 1979.
A spokesman for the Nicaraguan Mission to the United Nations said Miss Astorga returned to Managua in early January because of her illness and was hospitalized Thursday. He said her deputy, Julio Icaza, had been acting in her stead.
Dr. Kevin M. Cahill of New York said he had treated Miss Astorga for breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy in 1986, followed by chemotherapy.
Bourgeois by background and style, Miss Astorga used her Catholic upbringing and legal career as cover for her early role as a guerrilla. She was best known for an operation in 1978 in which she lured Gen. Anastasio Somoza Debayle's second-in-command into her bedroom, where hidden assailants killed him. U.S. Refused Her as Envoy.
Miss Astorga at the time was a corporate lawyer and mother of two. She said later that the Somoza aide, Gen. Reynaldo Perez Vega, was to have been abducted, interrogated and exchanged for 59 political prisoners. But there was a struggle, and the would-be kidnappers slit the general's throat instead, she said.
The general also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, American and Nicaraguan officials said. The incident loomed large when the United States refused to accept her appointment as Ambassador to Washington in 1984.
After the Sandinista victory, Miss Astorga became chief special prosecutor in 1980 for the trials of 7,500 members of the Somoza regime's National Guard and other supporters of the ousted dynasty. Many of them drew long sentences, but most have been released since.
Miss Astorga then was named Deputy Foreign Minister to represent Nicaragua at international conferences. She also spoke for her country in 1983 and 1984 when the Contadora group of Latin American nation was searching for a peaceful settlement of the civil strife in Central America.
She presented her credentials to Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar at the United Nations in March 1986. Her message, sounded often, was meant to counter Washington's charges that the Sandinistas were seeking to impose Marxism-Leninism on all of Central America and to challenge the United States to help resolve the region's conflicts through talks. An Atypical Revolutionary
''Revolutions are not exportable like Coca-Cola or paperbacks or something like that,'' she told reporters. ''You don't produce it internally and send it away. Revolutions are made in a country when the conditions in that particular country are for a process of change.''
Miss Astorga stood out in her diplomatic surroundings not only as one of the few women in such a position. At 5 feet 11 inches in high heels, she seldom went unnoticed, with her sleek frame fitted in dress-for-success clothes and her hair smartly cropped. She spoke Americanized English as well as Italian and loved classical music - not the typical portrait of a revolutionary.
While at the United Nations, she lived in a six-bedroom house in Scarsdale with her mother and her five children, including an adopted son who was the child of a friend killed in the revolution. All the children attended schools in Westchester County.
Nora Astorga Gadea was the daughter of a wealthy lumber exporter and rancher. The Astorga family - she kept her maiden name - had been associated with the Somoza regime since her grandfather was Defense Minister.
Driven to excel, she studied sociology at Catholic University in Washington before taking her law degree at the Jesuit-run Catholic University in Managua. There she began her secret work for the Sandinistas, passing messages and buying supplies.
At 22, she married Jorge Jenkins, a student dissident, and the couple spent a year in Italy, where he studied archeology and she banking law. They had two children before they parted after five years.
After the Peres Vega killing, Miss Astorga fled to a training camp where she commanded a military squad and became the lover of Jose Maria Alvarado, a member of the Sandinista inner circle, with whom she had two children.
Created by: K
Record added: Apr 27, 2012
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