Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Orio became the first foreign head of state to pay an official visit to Nicaragua since Anastasio Somoza was ousted when he arrived in Managua on Wednesday (8 August).
Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Orio became the first foreign head of state to pay an official visit to Nicaragua since Anastasio Somoza was ousted when he arrived in Managua on Wednesday (8 August). Costa Rica was the only Cental American country to break off relations with the Somoza regime before it was overthrown, and it has maintained close links with the Sandinistas.
SYNOPSIS: Crowds of Nicaraguans and two members of the ruling junta -- Sergio Ramiez and Violeta Barrios de Chamorra -- turned out to welcome the Costa Rican leader. The junta members were already acquainted with him, as Costa Rica was one of several countries they were able to stay in before the Somoza regime was overthrown.
President Carazo was given a warm reception. His country frequently faced the threat of attack by former Nicaraguan President Somoza for allowing the Sandinistas to cross the border into Nicaragua. Now the Costa Rican Civil Guard -- the country has no formal army -- will be spared the discomfort of having the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan army facing each other across its border.
During the long civil war Costa Rica was generous in granting political asylum to Nicaraguans, allowed pro-Sandinista demonstrations to take place and arranged frequent Red Cross collection for war victims. The Sandinistas received invaluable help which they have sworn they will never forget -- and this is the first chance they have had to show their appreciation.
At a press conference in the Intercontinental Hotel President Carazo promised further material aid. Although the civil war is over, the struggle continues. Nicaragua faces grave shortages of food and medicine, much of the industry in the country was destroyed in the war and the banks are empty. This junta estimates it needs two and a half thousand million dollars for immediate reconstruction programmes. Venezuela and the United nations refugee organisation have already given generous donations. Food and medicine have also been supplied dy the United States, Spain, Mexico, China and Cuba. But this is only a beginning -- after nearly two months of constant fighting, the country is in ruins. It is not yet known what aid Costa Rica can offer as it has recently been hard-hit by rising oil prices but the Nicaraguans are confident that their old allies will not let them down.