February 10, 2001

Nicaragua suspends deportation of U.S. nurse

                  MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -- Dorothy Granada left California for Nicaragua, setting
                  up a health clinic in the jungle and treating the region's poor.

                  She worked quietly for 10 years, until the Nicaraguan government tried to deport her on
                  allegations she treated leftist rebels and performed abortions. Soon, the 70-year-old
                  nurse had become an international symbol.

                  U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups took up her cause, lobbying the government to let
                  her continue her work. For now, they appear to have won.

                  A Nicaraguan court suspended the deportation, and Granada came out of hiding
                  after two months, holding a news conference Thursday to deny the charges
                  against her.

                  She plans to return to work next week at her clinic in Mulukuku, a village of
                  5,000 people located about 150 miles northeast of the capital, Managua.

                  Nicaraguan officials had accused her of treating members of the Andres Castro
                  United Front, a leftist paramilitary group of former Sandinista soldiers, and
                  performing abortions, which are illegal here.

                  Numerous human rights groups -- including Amnesty International -- began
                  publicizing Granada's case worldwide, and local newspapers denounced the
                  allegations as arbitrary.

                  Earlier this month, more than 30 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter asking the
                  Nicaraguan government to reverse its decision. On Tuesday, a Nicaraguan court
                  suspended the deportation order while a higher court rules on Granada's appeal.

                  But even if Granada wins all her court battles, the government could still refuse
                  to renew her residency when it expires in September.

                  Granada has defended her decision to help the poor, calling them "victims of an
                  unjust economic system."

                  She arrived in Mulukuku in 1990, living in a modest adobe-and-wood house and
                  setting up a cooperative of 42 women. With her help, they constructed the clinic,
                  which is outfitted with three examination rooms, gynecological facilities, surgical
                  equipment and a small pharmacy.

                  They also built four rooms for guests, a kitchen, a dining room, a meeting room,
                  a small library, a school and an area to rest in hammocks.

                  In December, Nicaraguan human rights prosecutor Benjamin Perez visited the
                  cooperative, and cried after hearing the women there talk about Granada's work.

                  He said the government had offered no proof of the allegations, had not given
                  Granada a chance to defend herself in court and had violated her human rights.

                  Grethel Sequeira, the cooperative's president, said the government "fears
                  Dorothy because of her friendship with us, and the fact that we don't hide that
                  we are Sandinistas."

                  The Sandinistas, who had close ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union, came to
                  power by revolution and ruled Nicaragua during the 1980s. They were deposed
                  in a 1990 election but recently made gains in local elections, including winning
                  the race for mayor in Managua.

                  The remote jungle clinic has walls decorated with the ideology of Sandinista
                  leaders. The first accusations against Granada came from Antonio Mendoza, a
                  militant of the ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party and mayor of Siuna
                  municipality, which includes the village of Mulukuku.

                  Sequeira denied that the clinic has ever performed abortions, adding that it has
                  treated more than 20,000 peasants.

                  "This is our work," she said. "For this we fight on."

                  Angela Rodriguez, a 34-year-old mother of 10 children, said she often visited the
                  Mulukuku clinic because the government's nearby health center gives out little

                  Salvadora Aguinaga, 23, said Granada's clinic cares for everyone -- no matter
                  what their political background.

                  "I think what they are doing to her is purely political," she said.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.