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Opposition Ends Hunger Strike, Vows More Protests

September 26, 1988

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Twenty-four members of the political opposition ended a hunger strike Monday but vowed to continue their non-violent campaign against the leftist Sandinista government.

The hunger strike by members of the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinate began Friday after the government barred a planned Sunday demonstration. Interior Minister Tomas Borge said the march had been called to provoke the authorities.

Ramiro Gurdian, vice president of the coordinate, a center-right coalition of 16 labor groups and political parties, called the hunger strike the first in a series of peaceful anti-government actions. He told a news conference that other actions could include longer fasts or work stoppages.

The strikers said they also were demanding the release of 38 Nicaraguans jailed July 10 after an anti-government demonstration in the southern city of Nandaime. The government says the detainees will be tried.

″There is no judicial liberty in Nicaragua 3/8″ yelled Luis Andara Ubeda, a coordinate member.

He said the detained political leaders were being kept in ″inhuman″ conditions at a prison in Granada but ″their hearts are filled with patriotism that Nicaragua will return to being a republic.″

Opposition leaders also lashed out at U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, D- Texas, who said the CIA backed opposition groups in an internal destabilizatio n plan. Gurdian claimed Wright ″jeopardized the Nandaime prisoners.″

″His (Wright’s) comments put into danger the lives of the opposition and gives the Sandinista Front more reason for deeper repression,″ said Erick Ramirez, president of the center-left Social Christian Party, in an interview.

The Sandinistas said Wright’s comments supported what they had been saying all along.

The National Endowment For Democracy, a U.S. government-funded organization, provided more than $600,000 for civic opposition groups in Nicaragua. Those who received the funds have been identified as the opposition newspaper La Prensa, two anti-government labor unions, the Superior Private Enterprise Council, the Nicaraguan Conservative Party and the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinate.

Ramirez said his group does not receive any U.S. funding.

Members of Nicaragua’s fragmented opposition note they have remained in their country to fight against the Sandinistas rather than leave, take up arms and join the U.S.-backed rebels, known as Contras.

Ortega and other Sandinista leaders recently have referred to the opposition groups as ″unarmed Contras.″

Ramirez also said he signed an agreement with Eden Pastora on Sunday in Costa Rica to join forces in the political opposition. Pastora, whose nome de guerre was Commander Zero, is a former Sandinista guerrilla who switched sides after the Sandinistas came to power and led the Contras in the southern front near Costa Rica.

Pastora, who left the Contras in 1986, has talked about returning from exile in Costa Rica.

Ramirez seeks a broad-based center-left opposition to fight the Sandinistas politically.

″It can’t be with the right or the extreme left, not with Washington and not with Moscow. It’s an option away from extremes,″ he said.

The Sandinistas came to power in a 1979 revolution that deposed rightist President Anastasio Somoza. The Contras have been fighting the government since 1981.

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