Chamorro was born in Rivas, a small city near the Nicarguan border with Costa Rica. She was educated in private Catholic schools in Granada and Managua. Chamorro's parents sent her to American boarding schools, first Our Lady of the Lakes (Texas) and then Blackston (Virginia). She returned to Nicaragua upon the death of her father from cancer.
She met Pedro Joaquín Chamorro in 1949 and they married in 1950, with whom she had five children. In 1952, her husband, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, took over the anti-Somoza newspaper La Prensa and was frequently jailed for its content. He was assassinated on January 10 1978. Her family is divided along political lines, with two of her children Sandinastas while the other are contras.
Violeta Chamorro’s rise to power began with the assassination of her husband when she took over as editor of La Prensa. Since the paper was originally pro-Sandinista, she was invited to join the Sandinisa First Coalition Junta. She resigned in 1980 and turned to the opposition: the Contra. As a result La Prensa was temporarily shut down. During that time, Chamorro was appointed the presidential candidate for the 1990 presidential elections, against Daniel Ortega. Chamorro won the election with a 55% victory.
Inheriting a state ravaged by years of civil war, Chamorro is credited for her peace reforms and bringing greater economic stability to Nicaragua. Peace reforms included reducing the size of the military, an end to the national draft, and the demobilization of the military. This demobilization included the removal of the US-backed Contras thereby leaving the Sandinistas with no one to fight, and therefore creating a highly effective peace.
Chamorro controlled hyperinflation and attempted to turn to a neoliberal model outlined by the Mayorga Plan by attempting to integrate Nicaragua into the world market, increase foreign investment while reducing foreign backing, and increase privatization, however this plan was very unpopular in Nicaragua. The plan failed to control the overwhelming poverty of Nicaragua and was coupled with a rise in unemployment and underemployment. Chamorro was also criticized for rejecting constitutional reforms that included: prohibition of nepotism, need for legislative approval to tax and spend money, decrease the length of the presidential term from six to five years, expand constitutional liberties.
Relations with the US soured with allegations that the Sandinistas were still controlling the army. Promised aid of 100 million USD was denied in 1992.
President Chamorro is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.