In Nicaragua, the first group of former members of the National Guard have been released from prison by the military Junta.
In Nicaragua, the first group of former members of the National Guard have been released from prison by the military Junta. The two hundred and sixty-right men were brought to Managua and turned over to the International Red Cross. Many of them will be starting new lives as agricultural workers.
SYNOPSIS: Tomas Borge, Nicaraguan Interior Minister, said that these men were only the first of thousands that would be released from prison to start new lives in Nicaragua. Most of them will become agricultural workers, something that the country is sorely in need of.
Sunday's release of prisoners (12 August) is the first act of clemency by the new Sandinista government. The former members of the National guard had been held prisoners in Morelo prison, in Tipitapa, about twelve miles north of Managua.
Mr. Borge told the former supporters of Anstasio Somoza that they were being trusted to return to their homes to begin a new life and to work. He said that the revolution was fought in order to give the peasants of Nicaragua the opportunity to work the land.
Mr. Borge told the ex-National Guardsmen that they had two choices. Either to go back to being supporters of ousted President Anastasio Somoza, or to serve the country and work the land. The soldiers said they would choose the latter, and of asked, would even take up arms against the former dictator. Many other National Guardsmen are still hiding in foreign embassies, Red Cross centres and churches throughout the country. Some reports say as many as a thousand are hiding, waiting to see whether or not the new government intends to indict them for the war crimes, or to invoke a general amnesty.
The Sandinistas are still holding about five thousand ex-Guardsmen in prisons around the country, and the government has said that most of them will be released very soon. The government says that it is in its interest to have the soldiers working the land.