In Nicaragua on Sunday (5 February) municipal elections were held throughout the country except for the capital of Managua against the background of a bitter two-week general strike.
In Nicaragua on Sunday (5 February) municipal elections were held throughout the country except for the capital of Managua against the background of a bitter two-week general strike. At least 14 people were thought to have died as a result of disturbances stemming from the anti-government strike. But Reuters news agency reported there was little doubt that the ruling party of President Anastasio Somoza would win the elections.
SYNOPSIS: Only two political parties are permitted under the dictatorship of General Somoza -- his Liberal Nationalist Party and the semi-official opposition Conservatives. General Somoza toured Managua following the riots, which highlighted the confrontation between the President and his opponents. They have been demanding his resignation and the end of 40 years of Somoza family rule.
The violence in Managua was sparked off by the murder of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of the evening newspaper La Prensa. He led a coalition of opposition movements dedicated to the removal of President Somoza. The government claimed that the disturbances were caused by Nicaraguan terrorists based in Costa Rica who crossed the border to attack targets with rifles, dynamite and a bazooka. But La Prensa blamed many of the deaths on the National Guard.
By the time the elections were held the general strike appeared to be faltering. Many employers who had backed the strike said they would reopen their businesses although it wasn't clear whether workers would follow suit. At the height of the strike foreign correspondents estimated that 80 per cent of Managua's businesses had shut down, but by Saturday life was beginning to return to normal.
In a nationwide speech on television, demands for his resignation were flatly rejected by General Somoza.
The President said he was convinced that groups of agitators were trying to put obstacles in the way of Nicaraguans who want peace and progress.
He added that Nicaraguans would demonstrate to the nation and the world their rectitude and wish to continue to advance in peace. He said his government guaranteed order, peace and social stability despite what he described as 'foreign forces' spreading disorder against the peace and well-being of the Nicaraguan people.
President Somoza's speech on television and his tour of Managua were rare public appearances. He is heavily guarded at all times.