Associaed Press
February 10, 2001

Nurse in Nicaragua Gains Attention


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

          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

          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

          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,

          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 medicine.

          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.