Indian `contra' groups try to get US aid
As the scramble for new United States funds continues, Nicaraguan rebel organizations are engaged in an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of alignments and realignments. The latest installment of this increasingly Byzantine saga occurred in Honduras last week in the small, hot border village of Rus Rus. Two rival Miskito Indian rebel organizations convened there in an attempt to join forces, reportedly at the encouragement of the Reagan administration.
By the meeting's end, the chiefs of both factions had officially been ousted and the representatives of the larger group, Misura, had proclaimed unity with the smaller organization, Misurasata.
Misurasata leaders promptly denied that the merger had taken place.
The funding the groups are vying for is the $27 million in nonmilitary aid to the anti-Sandinista rebels, called ``contras,'' approved in late July by the United States Congress.
One congressional analyst involved with Central American affairs said that after all the public emphasis the US had placed on alleged Sandinista persecution of the Miskitos, the Reagan administration will have to give money to at least one Indian group, even if a semblance of unity ``has to be faked.''
Whether it is a result of United States pressure or not, the only clear outcome of the convention at Rus Rus is that Steadman Fagoth no longer heads Misura.
Although the Misura-dominated convention officially unseated Brooklyn Rivera, the leader of Misurasata, Mr. Rivera probably remains in control of the contra organization. Only 27 Misurasata members attended the convention, and most of them voted against unseating Rivera.
Wycliffe Diego, a top Misura Miskito leader, stated last week that his faction's leaders wanted to unite with Misurasata because White House officials informed them their organization would not receive funds unless unity was achieved.
The Reagan administration has made it clear that contra groups that refuse to join with a new Nicaraguan contra political organization -- known as the United Nicaraguan Opposition -- will receive no United States assistance.
UNO was formed last June when the main contra organization, called the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, united with two other major Nicaraguan contra political leaders, Arturo Cruz Porras and Alfonso Robelo Callejas.
UNO's approximately 12,000 troops, however, are almost all under the control of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN).
Misura was founded in Honduras in 1981 by Fagoth, an ex-Sandinista Miskito Indian leader.
After a series of ideological twists and turns, Fagoth allied his organization with the FDN, whose headquarters is in Honduras.
Misura controls an armed group of approximately 2,000 Indians in Honduras.
Misurasata was founded by Rivera, another former Sandinista Indian leader who left Nicaragua six months after Mr. Fagoth.
He opposes the FDN.
Rivera considers the FDN to be a right-wing organization, dominated in key positions by supporters of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.
As the United States increased pressure on the contra groups to unite with the FDN, Rivera, over the past year, began unsuccessful negotiations with the ruling Sandinistas.
Misura's armed force is located in Costa Rica, near Nicaragua's southern border, and is estimated to have 1,000 men under arms.
Misura has enjoyed a complex, hot-cold, relationship with the forces of fellow rebel leader, Ed'en Pastora G'omez, also in Costa Rica.
Mr. Pastora and Rivera are the last two leaders of Nicaraguan armed groups who have refused to follow the United States-backed policy of uniting with the FDN.
The Monitor incorrectly stated in its Sept. 11 issue that Misura's armed forces are in Costa Rica. It is Misurasata armed forces that are there.