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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Nomination for the Secretary's Award for International Women of Courage

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SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY'S AWARD FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

REF: STATE 111471; MANAGUA 1103; MANAGUA 1049

1. (U) Embassy Managua is please to nominate Leonor Martinez for the Secretary's Award for International Women of Courage, per ref A.

2. (U) Full Name of Nominee: Leonor del Socorro Martinez Valverde

3. (U) Job Title and Institution: Teacher, currently unemployed; Youth Activist in the Civil Coordinator movement, an NGO that coordinates Nicaragua's civil society groups

4. (SBU) Date of Birth: January 8, 1984

5. (U) Country of Birth: Nicaragua

6. (U) Citizenship: Nicaragua

7. (SBU) Contact Information: 505-8431-8370

8. (SBU) Passport number: none

9. (U) Languages: Spanish

10. (U) Justification: Leonor Martinez is a young Nicaraguan woman
who courageously suffered torture and death threats as a
consequence of her strong opposition to government efforts to
restrict democratic liberties. She publicly denounced the violence
perpetrated against her by a group of government-supported thugs.
As a young leader in Nicaragua's fragile civil society, her courage
in the face of severe physical, emotional and financial threats is
helping create the new fault lines in the political battle of her
generation - preserving Nicaragua's democracy through civil
protests and confronting the culture of violence against women.

11. (U) On October 22, Leonor Martinez was brutally assaulted by supporters of the current government (see ref C). Ms. Martinez is an activist with the Civil Coordinator (CC), an NGO that is leading the chorus of voices against the government's limitations on democratic freedoms. Ms. Martinez works in poor communities to re-integrate ex-gang members into society and to stop youth from joining gangs. On the night of the attack Ms. Martinez had participated in a CC press conference to denounce an October Supreme Court decision that illegally nullified Nicaragua's constitutional prohibition against consecutive terms for elected officials - removing any roadblocks to President Ortega's plans to remain in power indefinitely. She was walking home from the press conference when a black van streaming the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) red and black flags pulled up to her. Three men jumped out of the van, one putting a gun to her head and another a dagger to her side. Then the third man twisted her arm behind her back - breaking it - and threw her to the ground. As she writhed in pain on the ground, the men proceeded to threaten her and her family, demanding that she stop her work with the CC because of its anti-Ortega stance. The three men got back into their van and the driver, later identified as Armando Arroliga, who works in the Managua Mayor's Office and was a prominent leader of the FSLN-led assault against a peaceful CC protest on August 8, sped them away.

12. (U) Ms. Martinez, joined by another brave Nicaraguan woman and
defender of human rights, Dr. Vilma Nunez, valiantly gave a press
conference the next day outside the hospital where she later
received emergency surgery to set the bone in her broken arm.
During the press conference, Ms. Martinez, through tears of pain
and anger, recounted the details of her attack of the previous day,
despite threats of more violence against her and her family by her
attackers. Ms. Martinez is a symbol of the struggle for freedom
against the political violence that continues to increase in
Nicaragua. In fact, since the attack, Ms. Martinez has become a
focal point for the Nicaraguan human rights community and has taken
a prominent role in leading other civic actions, including the
November 21 opposition march (see ref B).

13. (U) Embassy Managua's POC for women's issues is PolOff Michael
Garcia, tel 505-2252-7405, and email is garciam4@state.gov
CALLAHAN

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