Thousands in Nicaragua March Against Any U.S. Aid to Contras
Thousands of people took to the streets in towns throughout the country Wednesday to protest President Reagan’s proposed aid for the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras, state radio reported.
Waving red and black flags of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, pro-government unions, university and women’s groups, neighborhood organizations, peasants, war wounded in wheelchairs, government workers and others marched through streets in at least 10 communities to enthusiastic but peaceful rallies.
In Managua, crowds packed the downtown Plaza of the Nonaligned near the office of President Daniel Ortega, shouting “Yankees, here no one surrenders!”
Reference to Libya
Many demonstrators waved signs proclaiming, “Solidarity with the People of Libya” and “Down with American Imperialism.”
The state radio, the Voice of Nicaragua, estimated the crowd at 3,000 in Managua, where a second night of neighborhood rallies was planned.
The demonstrations came as the House put aside, at least temporarily, Reagan’s requested $100-million aid package for the rightist rebels. A Sandinista official said the delay presents “neither relief nor respite” for Nicaragua. The move was a ploy by lawmakers of Reagan’s Republican Party to prevent a less desirable Democratic-sponsored limitation on aid to the contras.
“Although today did not give an immediate result, the situation remains threatening and very dangerous for our people,” said Carlos Fernando Chamorro, head of the Sandinista front’s political action department.
“For Nicaraguans, the fundamental question is not $100 million, nor $300 million, nor $500 million. What is at stake is the U.S. President’s decision to escalate the war,” Chamorro said. “The illegal, immoral (congressional) debate continues over different criminal ways to wage war against us and destroy our revolution.”
Earlier, about 8,000 schoolchildren chanting “Yankees will die!” marched in Managua to protest U.S. proposals to aid the contras.
Instructions for Children
That march was organized by the Sandinista Children’s Organization, a government-sponsored group that provides recreational and ideological instruction to pupils.
Most of the children, dressed in school uniforms and some wearing red and black Sandinista bandannas, paraded to the Mexican Embassy to deliver a letter asking the Contadora Group to press its regional peace efforts.
Smaller delegations of children also headed for embassies representing the three other Contadora countries--Colombia, Venezuela and Panama--which have been seeking a solution to regional conflicts in Central America.
The Education Ministry suspended classes in public and private schools so that the 8- to 13-year-old children could participate in the demonstration.