Miskito Indians Contend Contras Get Better Deal

United Press International

Miskito Indian rebels formally ended their 9-year war against the Sandinista army this week but complained that they are getting a poor deal compared to other Nicaraguan rebels.

"Simply because we are peasants doesn't mean we can be treated any worse than the Contras," said Manuel Cunningham, also known as Tiger 17, one of the military leaders of the ragtag group of 2,000 rebels.

The Miskitos, like the better-known Contras, have been supplied with U.S. military and humanitarian aid. They often fought alongside the Contras and are often referred to as Contras.

"We know the war ended Feb. 25," said rebel leader Osorno Coliman, also known as Commander Blas, at a midweek ceremony in which the remaining 200 Miskito rebels handed in their weapons to U.N. peacekeeping forces.

Coliman was referring to President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro's election victory over Daniel Ortega, who was Sandinista president.

Cunningham said that disarmament was "a big sacrifice. We have been fighting for a long time. Some have grown to love the war."

The 25 or so wooden huts of Bilwaskarma, 250 miles north of Managua along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, are built on stilts to protect against flooding during the May-to-October rainy season.

Cunningham and others complained that Chamorro's government, the United Nations and the United States are failing to provide promised food and clothing and have given the Miskitos little compensation for a return to civilian life.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
59°