In Nicaragua, developments have been moving fast in the wake of former President Anastasio Somoza's departure for the United States.
In Nicaragua, developments have been moving fast in the wake of former President Anastasio Somoza's departure for the United States. The leftist junta, which has set up an administration in Leon, announced on Wednesday (18 July) that it would respect international agreements and that there would be no reprisals against their former foes, the National Guard, hundreds of whose members have deserted and fled. The following day, the United State Department in Washington said it welcomed these declarations, and urged speedy efforts towards a full cease-fire in Nicaragua. Four members of the junta flew from Costa Rica to Nicaragua on Wednesday (18 July).
SYNOPSIS: In San Jose, the capital of neighbouring Costa Rica, news of Somoza's flight into exile brought Sandinista supporters into the streets.
As these people celebrated on Tuesday (17 July), a provisional government , backed by the rebels, was standing by in Costa Rica to take power in their homeland. Although Somoza had gone, the National Guard was still fighting then, but its resistance was to crumble within forty-eight hours.
Dr. Francisco Urcoyo became acting head of stat when Somoza left. He had a brief interlude at the top. At first, he infuriated both the Sandinistas and the countries that had arranged the ceasefire by announcing he intended to stay on as President. Reports filtering out said senior officers of the national guard persuaded him to go, and he left Nicaragua less than two days after taking over. He had tried in vain to exhort the guerrillas to lay down their arms.
His single act as president was to release a number of political prisoners held by the Somoza regime. Dr Urcoyo had declared a general amnesty, but he had gone before it was carried out. Some prisoners alleged they had been tortured.
This is the San Antonio hospital in Masaya, a major city that had suffered badly from the damage of five hundred pound bombs that Somoza's air force had dropped during the fighting.
As the Sandinistas tried to take a nearby national guard fortress, some were wounded and brought here.
Having been so devastated, Masaya faces a long and tough job of reconstruction, which began as soon as it became safe enough to do so. One member of the junta, Moises Hassan Morales, the only one in Nicaragua when Somoza went, spoke abut the future.
The further of the national guard was a major condition of Somoza's surrender of power. These soldiers, filmed shortly before the Sandinistas entered Managua, said they had no worries. But, within twenty four hours, hundreds had deserted, and scores had fled the country.