As the civil war in Nicaragua drags on, normal life in the capital Managua, has completely collapsed.
As the civil war in Nicaragua drags on, normal life in the capital Managua, has completely collapsed. All commercial activity has stopped and thousands of refugees have fled the sprawling city -- leaving it to be destroyed by President Somoza's National Guardsmen and their opponents, the Sandinista guerrillas. It is almost a month since the left-wing guerrillas launched what they described as their 'final offensive' in the capital. One local journalists has said Managua will soon be 'just one cemetery'.
SYNOPSIS: The National Guardsmen have taken control of several roads leaving into Managua to stop the guerrillas, already entrenched, from receiving further military support. The government troops have moved Sherman tanks into the shandy town, where the Sandinistas have already been bombarded by air attacks. One of the battle areas is the barrio (slum) of La Fuente.
Although the government's military superiority has enabled its force to capture many of the barricades built by the guerrillas, the battle for Managua appears to have reached a stalemate. National Guardsmen roam through the deserted shantytowns, spraying gunfire into empty buildings.
Most civilians in the north-eastern suburbs have heeded warnings on the Government radio and abandoned their homes. Many have been caught by air raids. Fifteen thousand are reported dead in the month of civil war.
The shortage of food and desperate living conditions for the refugees has led to an epidemic of gastric influenza among babies. Makeshift hospitals have been established, under the supervision of the Red Cross, which has complained that the Government has failed to give them proper protection. As the number of civilian casualties grows, so does the popular opposition to President Somoza's regime. The poor are particularly angry especially over the large number of children injured. Because the guerrillas have been hiding in the poorer, more populated areas, these areas have been devastated by government Air Force attacks. The Red Cross has been unable to enter some areas and most temporary hospitals have been set up on the outskirts of the city.
The vegetable and fruit markets are also restricted outside Managua. The farmers set up the markets each morning, and there is no shortage of customers. Before the military bombardment, a national strike paralysed the supply of food. Looting followed, and the economy is now in chaos, with the shortage of food the biggest problem. Many of the goods, looted from supermarkets in the city are now being sold at the temporary markets.
There is little fuel available to civilians, and so very few private cars on the road.
Most of the farmers have overcome the problem by pooling their fuel resources and sharing trucks.
For many of the young men, the war goes on. These Sandinista guerrillas have just captured the town of Diriamba, twenty-five kilometres from Managua, after a sixteen-day battle. The Sandinistas claimed only four of their men died while they killed forty National Guardsmen. As the guerrillas buried their dead, their's little indication when the killing might end.