PJC named National Hero of Nicaragua

Joining the ranks of Augusto C. Sandino, Diriangén, Rubén Darío, Rafaela Herrera and 12 other Nicaraguan worthies, martyred newspaper publisher Pedro Joaquín Chamorro today was elevated to the status of National Hero of Nicaragua.

The law was passed unanimously Wednesday morning by all 89 lawmakers, representing the first bill of the year to get approved with full bipartisan support. The initiative was originally presented by opposition lawmaker Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Jr., who proposed the initiative as a decree. But it was quickly supported by the Sandinista majority and elevated to the status of law.

“It fills me with honor and satisfaction that the Sandinista Front has supported an initiative presented by the Nicaraguan Democratic Bloc,” Chamorro told The Nicaragua Dispatch today.

Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, former publisher of La Prensa, provided a leading critical voice against the Somoza dynasty until the dictator’s gunmen silenced him in 1978. Courtesy of Fundacion Violeta Barrios de Chamorro

Six months ago, Chamorro accused the Sandinistas of “trying to erase the memory of my father” after the government started a project—without explanation or vote—to transform the Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Park in downtown Managua into a giant monument to honor the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas, or ALBA.

Friends and family of Chamorro demanded that the government respect the memory of the legendary newspaper publisher and build their ALBA park somewhere else. The Sandinistas ignored the plea, but then supported the oppositions’ initiative to name Chamorro a National Hero.

Chamorro, the popular publisher of La Prensa and outspoken critic of the abuses committed by the Somoza regime, was assassinated by Somoza’s gunmen on Jan. 10, 1978. The crime sparked national outrage and helped galvanize the popular insurrection that ousted the dictatorship the following year.

Chamorro Jr. says recognizing his father as a National Hero will oblige Nicaraguans to revisit the writings of the martyred newspaperman and really understand the principles and ideas that he stood for.

“The law obligates the Ministry of Education to include the writings of my father in the school curriculums pertaining to national history and Nicaragua’s National Heroes,” Chamorro explained. “This will also challenge all Nicaraguans to really look at and understand the principles that my father stood for and fought for his whole life. He was against presidential reelection and in favor of civil liberties, including the freedoms of expression and organization. He was against the corruption in the government and was against the confusion of party and state. He was in favor of rule of law, and said that nobody—not even the president—is above the law.

“Those were the causes to which my father dedicated his life,” Chamorro said. “I think now that he has been named National Hero, it will require all of us to fight more to defend those principles and to try to emulate his example.”


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