Nicaragua -- where there's fighting once again
There is fighting once more in Nicaragua. Almost four years ago that country was locked in a fierce revolution. At the end of that revolution the Sandinistas came into power. The former president, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, was forced to resign and leave his country.
The latest fighting in Nicaragua (pronounced Nic-a-rahg'-wa), which is the largest country in size in Central America, shows that the revolution did not do away with all the supporters of the ousted president.
The supporters of former President Somoza have regrouped into a fighting force. They have also attracted some people who originally supported the Sandinista government but who have now turned against it because they feel the government has cut down on their freedoms.
At present, Nicaragua is not ruled by a single president, as it was in the days of Somoza, but by a three-member junta, assisted by many of the former Sandinista guerrilla commanders.
Junta is a Spanish word for a government run by military officers. (Since the word is Spanish, the ''j'' in junta is pronounced as though it were an ''h.'')
The government in Nicaragua has been in power only since July 19, 1979. That was when the junta took over after the resignation of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
He was called simply President Somoza. (In many countries where people speak Spanish the next to the last name is the father's family name.) He was the last member of the Somoza family that had ruled Nicaragua continuously for about 50 years.
As a dictator, President Somoza allowed no opposition to his rule. With the power and vast amounts of wealth he had collected, he became extremely unpopular.
But because he was strongly anticommunist he was able to stay in power through the support he got from the United States. The US has long played a big part in Nicaraguan events, so much so that there was a US occupation of the country from 1912 to 1925 and again from 1927 to 1933. During the latter period several thousand US marines were based in the country to prevent civil war and supervise elections.
One of the people most against the US occupation of his country during the 1920s was a rebel leader named Augusto Cesar Sandino.
A popular movement started pressing hard in 1977 to overthrow President Somoza through guerrilla warfare. It honored Sandino by taking as its formal name the Sandinist National Liberation Front. It soon became known as the Sandinistas. Today they are in charge of the government.
The Sandinistas have always been very critical of the US because of the support the Americans gave the Somoza family. They accused the US of being responsible for the recent guerrilla attacks against them in the north of the country. The Sandinista government in Nicaragua has also accused the country to the north of them, Honduras, of trying to overthrow their government. Honduras, in turn, has accused Nicaragua of trying to start war.
The US government has neither denied nor confirmed these charges. One result of this is that the Nicaraguan government is staying especially alert because it is not sure what the US will do next.
What is not in doubt is that the US government is opposed to the people who rule in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. The US believes that Nicaragua is working with Cuba and the Soviet Union to bring about revolution in Central America, particularly in El Salvador, another of Nicaragua's neighbors.