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Americans Protest at U.S. Embassy

October 22, 1987

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ About 200 Americans protested Thursday outside the U.S. Embassy, demanding the United States order Contra rebels to release a Witness for Peace worker they kidnapped.

Paul Alan Fisher, 41, of Mill Valley, Calif., was captured Saturday by the rebels near La Libertad, said Ed Griffin Nolan, local director of the Witness for Peace organization. La Libertad is about 100 miles southeast of Managua in Chontales province.

Witness for Peace is a religious group that opposes the Reagan administration ’s policies in Central America.

″We have no trace of our colleague,″ Nolan said Thursday. ″We insist the Contras must free him without conditions or excuses.″

Since arriving in Nicaragua in April, Fisher has worked with a 32-member Witness for Peace team traveling through the country to check reports of human rights abuses by the rebels. Nolan said Fisher was last heard from on Friday.

On Wednesday, the rebels freed the Rev. Enrique Blandon, a Roman Catholic priest, and the Rev. Adolfo Tiffer, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, after holding them 11 days.

Marta Sacasa, a spokeswoman for the Nicaraguan Resistance in Miami, said Fisher would be freed ″as soon as there are secure circumstances.″

Previously, Ms. Sacasa repeatedly denied that the Contras were holding the two clergymen or Fisher. The Nicaraguan Resistance is a Contra umbrella organization.

In front of the embassy, the Americans protested with signs that read: ″Free Paul Fisher, Support the Central American Peace Accord.″ They were refering to a regional peace plan signed by the presidents of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica Aug. 7.

The peace plan calls for cease-fires, amnesties, an end to foreign aid to rebels in the region and democratization, among other measures.

Protesters included Americans living in Nicaragua, Witness for Peace members and a group of Vietnam veterans doing volunteer work in Nicaragua.

The presence of Americans in front of the embassy on Thursday mornings has been routine since 1983, when they began weekly protests against U.S. policies on Central America.

Blandon on Thursday radioed the Witness for Peace office in Managua from Waslala, 118 miles north of the capital, and reported he and Tiffer had been released.

In the radio call, Blandon said he and Tiffer were kidnapped by a Contra rebel chief who called himself ″Cantinflas″ - the stage name of a Mexican comedian well known throughout Latin America.

″He threatened us with death and told us we would be in their power because we are dangerous people,″ Blandon said of the rebel chief.

″They did not accept any argument. They are people you cannot talk with.″

Tiffer did not speak during the call, but Blandon said both were well.

The Sandinista government came to power in a 1979 revolution that toppled rightist President Anastasio Somoza. The U.S-supported Contras have been fighting the Sandinistas for five years.

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