Nicaragua seizes 16 plantations

Nicaragua's revolutionary government expropriated 16 plantations in its largest agrarian reform move under the terms of a law it passed last year, authorities said.

Nicaraguan Agrarian Reform Minister Jaime Wheelock Roman announced the government's seizure of the land, totaling about 3O,OOO acres in Jinotega, a coffee-growing region 13O miles northeast of here.

He told peasants massed at a Jinotega rally that the plantations had been confiscated because its owners had abandoned or ''undercapitalized'' them.

Officials said it was the largest expropriation under the terms of a 1981 law empowering the government to convert inefficiently farmed private land into peasant cooperatives.

Mr. Wheelock in his speech vowed that the government would continue expropriating more acreage ''until the problem of the last landless peasant is resolved.'' But he added that the private landowners affected by the move could appeal the confiscations in special administrative agrarian councils.

Before the 1981 reform law, the government's redistribution covered only fields owned by former rightist dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle and his close allies, overthrown in a revolution headed by the leftist Sandinista Party three years ago.

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