US Nicaraguan aid only 'on hold'

US aid to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua is temporarily "on hold" but is not suspended, as had been reported over the weekend. Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes that despite deep concern over evidence that leftist guerrillas in El Salvador are being supplied with arms from Nicaragua, neither the outgoing Carter administration nor the new Reagan administration suspended the $75 million Nicaragua aid program approved last year.

The New York Times reported Jan. 23 that Lawrence A. Pezzullo, US ambassador to Nicaragua, told the Sandinista government last week that the aid package was being suspended until it was determined that Nicaragua was not helping the Salvadoran leftists. Nicaragua has repeatedly denied it was supplying such help.

Confusion over the issue apparently arose because the United States, under terms of the loan agreement, is at this point conducting an analysis of how the first half of the $75 million aid package was used. Specifically, the US wants to make sure that the agreed-upon 60 percent of the funds went to the Nicaraguan private sector.

The other half of the package is currently in abeyance -- "on hold," a department spokesmen said -- pending completion of the review."But it is not a suspension of aid," he added, and "the review has nothing to do with El Salvador." The review actually began several weeks ago and will likely be completed before the end of month.

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