It wasn’t easy – it was very difficult – to be a ‘glamour girl’, married into this marriage – one of the best-dressed women in the world, you know, [the Vanity Fair International] Best-Dressed Hall of Fame and all that kind of thing – and then to commit myself to becoming a human-rights campaigner. At the end of the day, what would speak would be what I achieved.
But this is a world where even today the media still refer to women, despite their achievements, in terms of who they were once married to. In Nicaragua, a woman keeps her husband’s name when she divorces.
When you first came to the world’s attention in the early Seventies, the image most people had of you was of a beautiful but frivolous creature – and yet now you come across as an intense and very serious person.
Have there always been two different sides to your character?
When I arrived, they were tying the thumbs of the [male] refugees behind their backs.
Managua fell to the Sandinistas on July 17, 1979 and my divorce was on December 23 – and my life changed forever. But I knew that my commitment, my perseverance and my focus were really what was important, not explaining it or trying to justify it.Sure, but substance without celebrity can be hard work. I don’t think I am regarded as a celebrity, forgive me for saying.I may be well known, but I am really regarded by the people that count more as a human-rights advocate or as an environmentalist.Well, have you ever met someone who was one person and then became someone else?People change: they evolve, they mature, they know better what they want to do and gain the confidence to do it.I was a 21-year-old girl when I got married, and there was a parenthesis in my life: I had this extraordinary marriage and extraordinary life.But it wasn’t for me – I was obviously a fish out of water.I embraced French culture, I embraced the language – you know, I thought I was in an enlightened paradise.I think you could say that my view of the world is more in keeping with European values.Well, in 1981 I was asked to be part of a fact-finding Congressional delegation that went to a UN refugee camp in Honduras called Colomoncagua.We had just arrived in Honduras when we were told that some death squads had crossed the border from El Salvador, with the acquiescence of the Honduran army, and were coming to abduct people from the camp and take them back to El Salvador, presumably to kill them.