• Short Summary

    In Nicaragua, the government of President Anastasio Somoza on Wednesday (13 September) declared martial law throughout the country.

  • Description

    SV Nicaraguan people clamouring for air tickets at Managua airport.

    SCU Passenger speaking in English.

    CU & GV People waiting for tickets. (2 SHOTS)

    CU & GV Army personnel in hotel and walking round grounds, laying barbed wire. (5 SHOTS)

    GV JINOTEPE Soldier standing guard over teenagers in back of truck as relatives watch anxiously. (5 SHOTS)

    CU ESTELI Rebel flag PAN TO barricades in streets.

    CU Guerrillas, wearing masks, hiding behind walls and buildings. (5 SHOTS)

    SCU Guerrilla speaking in English while hiding behind barricade. (Esteli)

    CU & SV Child guerrilla with mask and gun, standing under wall slogan (Somoza go home).

    WOMAN: "When this thing start, I didn't realise that it was, you know, that bad. But now, I am very scared. I think scared... to leave...you know...if you can ...it's better to leave than to stay here."

    GUERRILLA: "(INDISTINCT), you know, have complete organisation, you know, from...we are receiving help from people in this town, because they know, you know, the final (INDISTINCT SPANISH WORD) ...you know. The guerrilla, I think, is going to be a triumph pretty soon. We have a problem that the United States, the government of the United States is helping Anastasio Somoza; they are preparing an intervention in this country."

    Reuters reported on Wednesday (13 September) that government planes had bombarded the city of Leon in central Nicaragua with rockets and machine gun fire but failed to flush out guerrillas said to be controlling most districts there. Red Cross teams were trapped between opposing forces, and could not reach the areas hit. Residents said thousands fled the city -- Nicaragua's second largest -- during Wednesday, streaming along roads for the safety of the countryside. Residents still in the city said government forces were isolated in the national guard barracks. Meanwhile, in Masaya, where an unknown number of people were killed during three days of heavy fighting, the authorities cited martial law to keep journalists out of the town. Roads into Masaya were lined with townspeople, carrying white flags, who were coming back after having been evacuated on Tuesday. Broadcasts on state radio continued to report the situation as calm, and said the national guard was in control of all areas.

    Initials JS/2245


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In Nicaragua, the government of President Anastasio Somoza on Wednesday (13 September) declared martial law throughout the country. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that guerillas seeking to overthrow the President had taken control of large parts of three major cities in the north and northwest -- Esteli, Leon and Chinandega. In the capital, Managua, government troops tightened security around big hotels, and the airport was crowded with frightened civilians trying to flee to safety in Costa Rica and Guatemala. In Washington, the State Department on Wednesday backed a call from Costa Rica and Venezuela for the Organisation of American States (OAS) meeting to discuss the civil war in Nicaragua.

    SYNOPSIS: Managua airport was teeming with people anxious to leave the city torn by violence and strikes. One woman explained why.

    Outgoing flights are heavily booked, but terrorist attacks on parts of the capital have forced some airlines to cancel night services to Nicaragua.

    The introduction of martial law has increased tension in Managua, where the shortage of some foodstuffs was becoming severe. Food transporters have suspended some operations because of lack of security on roads. Reports said a military patrol was attacked on Wednesday (13 September) near the national university, but no details of casualties were given. Residents were said to be calling district meetings to organise themselves to handle any possible emergency.

    From Jinotepe, a small township thirty-five kilometres (22 miles) southeast of managua, came reports that national guardsmen were rounding up local teenagers. Jinotepe is an important trading centre for agricultural products, notably coffee, sugarcane and timber. Under the martial law, which was just about to come into effect here, the government as suspended all the constitutional guarantees of citizens.

    The town of Esteli, ninety-six kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital, was reported on Thursday (14 September) to be under the control of guerrillas. Eyewitnesses said insurgents were freely patrolling the streets, and there had been only one clash with a small force of national guardsmen. Rebels had burnt down the local government building the day before in an attack on remaining guardsmen who refused to surrender. One guerrilla gave his account on the situation there.

    Red Cross teams could not estimated casualty figures in reportedly rebel held towns, because of their trouble reaching battle areas.

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