Rosario Murillo

Rosario María Murillo Zambrana (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈsaɾjo muˈɾiʝo]; born 22 June 1951) is a Nicaraguan politician and poet who has held the position of Vice President of Nicaragua, the country's second highest office, since January 2017 and First Lady of Nicaragua since 2007 as the wife of President Daniel Ortega. Murillo has served as the Nicaraguan government's lead spokesperson,[1] government minister,[2] head of the Sandinista Association of Cultural Workers, and Communications Coordinator of the Council on Communication and Citizenry. She was sworn in as vice president of Nicaragua on 10 January 2017.[3][4] In August 2021, she was made subject to personal sanctions by the European Union, over alleged human rights violations.[5]

Rosario Murillo
2017 Rosario Murillo (cropped).jpg
Vice President of Nicaragua
Assumed office
10 January 2017
PresidentDaniel Ortega
Preceded byOmar Halleslevens
First Lady of Nicaragua
Assumed role
10 January 2007
PresidentDaniel Ortega
Preceded byLila T. Abaunza
In office
10 January 1985 – 25 April 1990
PresidentDaniel Ortega
Preceded byHope Portocarrero (1979)
Succeeded byCristiana Chamorro Barrios
Member of the National Assembly of Nicaragua
In office
4 November 1984 – 25 February 1990
Personal details
Rosario María Murillo Zambrana

(1951-06-22) 22 June 1951 (age 71)
Managua, Nicaragua
Political partyFSLN
Jorge Narváez Parajón
(m. 1967; died 1968)

(m. 1968⁠–⁠1972)

Carlos Vicente "Quincho" Ibarra
(m. 1973⁠–⁠1977)

(m. 2005)
Children8 (including Zoilamérica)
Parent(s)Teódulo Murillo Molina
Zoilamérica Zambrana Sandino
RelativesAugusto César Sandino (great uncle)

Life and careerEdit

Murillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua. Her father was Teódulo Murillo Molina (1915–1996), a cotton grower and livestock owner. Her mother was Zoilamérica Zambrana Sandino (1926–1973; the daughter of Orlando José Zambrana Báez and Zoilamérica Sandino Tiffer), a niece of General Augusto César Sandino (1895–1934) who fought against the US occupation in Nicaragua.[6] Murillo's maternal grandmother, Zoilamérica Sandino Tiffer, was a paternal half-sister of Augusto Nicolás Calderón Sandino, also known as Augusto César Sandino.[7] She married Daniel Ortega and had eight children. According to Nicaraguan historian Roberto Sánchez, Murillo is maternally related to Nicaragua's national hero, Augusto Sandino.[8]

Murillo attended high school at the Greenway Convent Collegiate School in Tiverton, Great Britain, and studied Art at the Institut Anglo-Suisse Le Manoir at La Neuveville in Switzerland.[8] Murillo possesses certificates in the English and French language, granted respectively by the University of Cambridge in Great Britain. She also attended the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in her hometown, where she later became a language professor at the Instituto de Ciencias Comerciales and the Colegio Teresiano during 1967–1969.[9]


Murillo joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front in 1969, and provided shelter in her house, which was located in the Barrio San José Oriental in Managua, to Sandinista guerrillas, among them Tomás Borge, one of the founders of the FSLN.[8]

During the early 1970s Murillo worked for La Prensa as a secretary to two of Nicaragua's leading political and literary figures, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro and Pablo Antonio Cuadra. Murillo was arrested in Estelí in 1976 for her activities in politics. Soon after, she fled and lived for several months in Panama and Venezuela. She later moved to Costa Rica where she dedicated herself completely to her political work with the FSLN, helped start Radio Sandino, and met her future husband, Daniel Ortega.[10] When the Sandinistas overthrew Somoza in 1979, she returned to Nicaragua. Murillo and Ortega were married in 2005.[10]


Murillo started to gain power politically in 1998 after defending Ortega after he was accused by his stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Narváez Murrillo,[11] Murillo's daughter, of sexually abusing her for many years.[12] Murillo stated that the accusations were "a total falsehood"[12] and afterwards sided unconditionally with Ortega and publicly shunned her daughter who has still maintained that her accusations were true.[11] The case was thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2001 because the statute of limitations had expired.[10]

Murillo helped re-brand Ortega after three unsuccessful election bids in 1990, 1996, and 2001 as a less extreme candidate. Ortega was elected president in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. In the 2016 general election Murillo ran as Ortega's vice-presidential candidate. She is "widely seen as the power behind the presidency" according to Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman.[13] Murillo appointed herself as "communications chief", a position which she used to address the public regularly before her vice-presidency.[13]

During her term, a series of protests broke out, resulting in 309 deaths by July 2018, some 25 of casualties being under the age of 17.[14] Murillo and aide Néstor Moncada Lau were particularly targeted in an executive order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump on 27 November 2018. This executive order is one of several sanctions placed against her and her husband's government by the United States since the unrest began.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

A polyglot, she speaks Spanish, English, Italian and French; she also reads German.[16][17] Rosario Murillo is Roman Catholic with strong Marian veneration[18][19][20]

Murillo defended Ortega when her daughter Zoilamérica accused her stepfather Ortega of sexual abuse in the 1990s, which still affects her reputation with some Nicaraguans. Although Zoilamérica tried to pursue legal action, Ortega had immunity as a member of the National Assembly.[21]

Murillo has had a history of struggling with both alcohol and drug abuse. She is known for her New Age beliefs and practices.[22]

In popular cultureEdit

Rosario Murillo is featured in the 2019 documentary film Exiliada, which revolves around her daughter, Zoilamérica Narváez, and her sexual abuse complaints against Daniel Ortega.[23]

Published worksEdit

  • Gualtayán (1975)
  • Sube a nacer conmigo (1977)
  • Un deber de cantar (1981)
  • Amar es combatir (antología) (1982)
  • En espléndidas ciudades (1985)
  • Las esperanzas misteriosas (1990)
  • Angel in the deluge (1992) translated from the Spanish by Alejandro Murguía. ISBN 0-87286-274-7

Further readingEdit

  • Murillo, Rosario. "Intellectuals and the Sovereignty of the People." Contemporary Marxism, no. 6 (1983): 183–92.
  • Manupelli, George. "Aid to the Arts of Nicaragua." Leonardo 16, no. 2 (1983): 159–159. doi:10.2307/1574841.


  1. ^ "Iran and Nicaragua in barter deal". BBC News. 5 August 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  2. ^ "Nicaragua-Venezuela Talk Cooperation". Prensa Latina. Retrieved 15 January 2008. ... informed Government minister and first lady, Rosario Murillo.
  3. ^ "Morning Star :: Nicaragua: Sandinista Ortega sworn in for fourth term as president | The People's Daily". Archived from the original on 12 January 2017.
  4. ^ Goldman, Francisco (29 March 1987). "Poetry and Power in Nicaragua". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  5. ^ "EU sanctions Nicaragua's first lady and vice-president over human rights violations". Guardian. 2 August 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  6. ^ Gadea, Francisco (4 November 2015). "Desde España, Aparicio Sandino se estableció en Nicaragua". Stereo Romance (105.3 FM) (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  7. ^ del Castillo Ortiz, Marcos Antonio (1 January 2020). Le Marois, Jacques; Baboin, Renaud; Cassaigne, Julie (eds.). "Zoilamérica Sandino Tiffer". GeneaNet. Paris, France: Geneanet SA. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Laguna, Xiomara (20 March 2007). Ortiz, Igor; Vázquez, Ronald; Molina, Mellkcon; Cantarero Pineda, Maryine; Sacasa Pasos, Alejandro (eds.). "Etapas más importantes de Rosario Murillo". Canal 2 (Televicentro de Nicaragua) (in Spanish). Managua, Nicaragua: Televicentro de Nicaragua, S.A. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  9. ^ Ramos, Helena. "Rosario Murillo: Una cadencia de fervores". Asociación Nicaragüense de Escritoras (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  10. ^ a b c Otis, John (24 March 2015). Beiser, Elana; Dunham, Jennifer; Zeveloff, Naomi; Crouch, Erik (eds.). "Long silence from Nicaragua's president as first lady keeps press at arm's length". Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). New York City, New York, United States of America. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b Rauen, Alexia; Stolle-McAllister, John; Hall, Sharri K.; Timmons, Liam; Quinteros, Erika (19 June 2017). Zamorano, Patricio; Mills, Frederick B.; Clark-Gollub, Jill; Camcaro, William (eds.). "Nicaragua's Proposed Legal Reforms Hinder Women's Rights and Threaten Political Opposition". Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA). Washington, D.C., United States of America: Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Inc. Archived from the original on 19 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  12. ^ a b Cad (1 January 1998). Douglas, Carol Anne; Dejanikus, Tacie; Robertson, Amaya; Whatley, Sherri; Butterbaugh, Laura; Elliott, Farar; Manzano, Angie; Mantilla, Karla; Rubby, Jennie; Smith, Jenn; Henry, Alice; Young, Angie (eds.). "Nicaragua: Ortega charged with abusing stepdaughter". Off Our Backs (OOB). Arlington, Virginia, United States of America: Off Our Backs, inc. 28 (4): 7. ISSN 0030-0071. JSTOR 00300071. LCCN sv86023034. OCLC 1038241.
  13. ^ a b Newman, Lucia (7 November 2016). Trendle, Giles; Al Thani, Hamad bin Thamer (eds.). "Nicaragua: President Ortega on course for third term". Al Jazeera. Doha, Qatar: Al Jazeera Media Network. Al Jazeera Santiago de Chile Bureau. Archived from the original on 10 June 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Cifra de muertos por crisis en Nicaragua asciende a 309". El Nuevo Diario (in Spanish). Managua, Nicaragua: El Nuevo Diario, S.A. de C.V. (Editora Nuevo Amanecer). Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  15. ^ "President Donald J. Trump is Pressuring the Nicaraguan Regime to Restore Democracy and the Rule of Law". (archival version of President Trump's tenure). Washington, D.C., United States of America: White House Office of the Press Secretary. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021 – via National Archives.
  16. ^ Salinas Maldonado, Carlos. "Su majestad Murillo; Culta y Ambiciosa". La Prensa (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  17. ^ Laguna, Xiomara. "Murillo la voz de Ortega". Canal 2 (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  18. ^ "Declaraciones de la compañera Rosario Murillo, Vice Presidenta de Nicaragua (08/09/2020) (Texto íntegro)". La Voz del Sandinismo (in Spanish). 8 September 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  19. ^ "Compañera Rosario Murillo en Multinoticias (3-11-20)". Canal 4 (in Spanish). 4 November 2020. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Compañera Rosario: Festejamos a la Virgen María colmados de amor, salud y fuerza". La Voz del Sandinismo (in Spanish). 7 December 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Nicaragua president's running mate: his wife". The Independent. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Meet Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's Rising Dictator". PanAm Post. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  23. ^ "Documental "Exiliada" ya puede verse en Nicaragua". Niú (in Spanish). 7 May 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
Honorary titles
Preceded by First Lady of Nicaragua
Current holder
Party political offices
Preceded by FSLN nominee for Vice President of Nicaragua
2016, 2021
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by Vice President of Nicaragua