International efforts to end the Nicaraguan civil war were continuing on Monday (16 July) as Sandinista guerrillas and troops loyal to President Anastasio Somoza pounded each other in the strategic city of Masaya, twenty-six kilometres (14 miles) south-east of the capital, Managua.
International efforts to end the Nicaraguan civil war were continuing on Monday (16 July) as Sandinista guerrillas and troops loyal to President Anastasio Somoza pounded each other in the strategic city of Masaya, twenty-six kilometres (14 miles) south-east of the capital, Managua. The United States and Latin American countries are continuing their support for the rebel-backed provisional government, which is based in neighbouring Costa Rica. On Sunday (15 July), the provisional junta announced details of the cabinet it hopes to establish soon on Nicaraguan soil. Areas of Nicaragua under control of the Sandinistas are slowly returning to normal as the guerrillas consolidate their hard-fought gains, and, on Thursday (12 July), the provisional government announced more measures seen as vital for ??? country's long-term reconstruction.
Although only forty kilometres (25 miles) south-west of Managua, the town of Diriamba is now firmly under Sandinista control. The guerrillas drove out the National Guard at the end of June, and have set up their own provisional government. The Sandinistas man checkpoints all round the town, and snipers lie in wait for a possible government counter-attack.
Less than a third of the original population of ten thousand remains, and some are still taking to the countryside, because Diriamba is now in the frontline of the guerrilla advance on Managua. But morale among those who have stayed is high.
Food is short, but no-one is starving. There are organised times for baking bread with the limited resources available, and set times for buying with orderly queues.
The Sandinistas have set up their headquarters at the home of a doctor who has fled the town. Their men are fed by a well-organised system of distribution runs. Deep barricades surround Diriamba, and air raid shelters in back gardens are still used when National Guard jets fly overhead. But the Sandinista leaders there are confident the whole country will be under their control by the end of July.
The neighbouring town of Jinotepe is also under Sandinista control. This spontaneous procession was prompted by the rediscovery of a statue of their Saint, Santiago -- thought lost during fighting for control of the town.
The provisional government was formed in Costa Rica in June as the Sandinistas made huge inroads into territory held by President Somoza's forces. The junta has outlined plans for a democracy in Nicaragua and has been waiting for a military vehicle or a negotiated settlement -- which includes President Somoza's resignation. The provisional government leaders proposed a ceasefire at their news conference on Friday (13 July), saying President Somoza's downfall was inevitable, and was necessary to prevent further death and destruction.