(WOMENSENEWS) — A 70-year-old U.S. nurse-midwife, in hiding to avoid deportation from Nicaragua, has emerged as the government temporarily suspended efforts to expel her from the country where she ran an embattled rural health clinic. But Dorothy Granada’s legal troubles haven’t ended.
Her legal status remained uncertain and she still could face deportation, as the government promised on Wednesday to pursue charges of engaging in anti-government activities.
"The dogs have not been called off," said one political observer who has followed the situation.
"I am very grateful that it has been proven that Nicaragua operates in a state of law, and I am grateful to President Arnoldo Aleman and Mr. Jose Marenco (minister of government) for honoring the law," Granada was quoted by her supporters as saying as she came out of two months in hiding.
"I am also very grateful for the incredible demonstration of solidarity from so many people . . .These efforts are really going to give life to many thousands of poor," she said.
Granada is expected to make an official appearance at a news conference Thursday in Managua, according to her supporters, the Friends of Dorothy Granada based in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Granada had been accused of performing abortions, which are illegal, but she has not been charged. She also has been accused of aiding the political comeback of the opposition Sandinista movement by helping its peasant supporters. She has denied performing abortions and taking part in political activities.
The political activities charge is the one the government is expected to pursue. A foreigner convicted of a crime would be subject to deportation.
Minister of Government Jose Marenco said in Wednesday’s edition of La Prensa that he would vigorously pursue charges against Granada, director of the Mulukuku clinic in a remote area without other medical services. He said he would take the case to Nicaragua’s Supreme Court, if necessary. Nicaragua’s minister of government post has powers like those of both an attorney general and secretary of the interior.
On Tuesday, however, Marenco had announced over a Managua radio station that he and President Arnoldo Aleman were "desisting from our effort to continue the deportation order of Dorothy Granada." That was because an appeals court had ruled against the government.
Granada had been expected to leave hiding because this week an appeals court ruled in favor of Granada, saying the government could not arrest, detain or deport her without due process. It upheld a lower court ruling that her rights were violated because she was ordered deported without a hearing or trial. Granada had initiated the legal action to avoid deportation.
The appeals court, however, did not revoke the deportation order. Future government action against Granada would be expected to involve formal legal charges and a trial or hearing, as required by law and emphasized by the appeals court. Karolina Walkin, spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs, said: "It is the U.S. view that this regrettable investigation, like the deportation order that preceded it, is both political and retaliatory in nature."
Granada’s supporters have said that the government was targeting the Mulukuku clinic because it provided medical care and family planning to destitute campesinos. Political observers say the government, which faces an election next year, believes some of the patients are pro-Sandinista.
Two years ago Granada was awarded an international peace prize for a lifetime of service to the poor.