American Protests End March Through Northern Nicaragua
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Ten Americans walking through a northern Nicaraguan war zone to protest U.S. support of the Nicaraguan ebels ended their trek Sunday after passing through areas where they heard shooting and mortar fire.
They arrived unharmed in Wiwili about noon after a 50-mile hike over dirt and gravel roads through the tropical mountain area, said Noemi Canales, an official at the Sandinista regional military command in Jinotega, 70 miles north of Managua.
She said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the Americans planned to return to Managua, 120 miles south of Wiwili, on Monday.
″We have no better information; only that they arrrived well and participated in a welcoming ceremony attended by some 600 people in Wiwili,″ she said.
Ms. Canales said there was no telephone communication with Wiwili, about 16 miles from the Honduran border, but the military kept track of the Americans’ movements by radio contact with soldiers in that area.
The marchers set out Monday from Jintotega, 70 miles north of Managua. It is the capital of Jinotega province, where there has been heavy fighting in recent weeks between the rebels, known as Contras, and Sandinista troops.
The left-wing Sandinista government said in December that Wiwili was bombed by fighter aircraft coming from Honduras, causing minor damage. The bombing followed reports of Sandinista troops crossing the border in search of Contras based in southern Honduras.
Honduras denied its planes bombed the Nicaraguan town, but Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombing did occur.
Last week, U.S. Embassy spokesman Al Laun said in Managua the United States would hold the Nicaraguan government responsible for the American marchers, but the protesters themselves said they would not hold the Sandinistas reponsible if any of them were hurt or killed.
Protester Brian Willson, 45, of San Rafael, Calif., said they heard five firefights and a mortar attack durng the march.
Other marchers included Holley Ravin, 34, of San Rafael, Calif.; John Poole, 41, Oak Park, Ill.; John Schuchardt, 47, Madison, Conn., and his wife, Judith Williamson; Richard Schoos, 36, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Scott Rutherford, 53, Washington; John David Isherwood, 63, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Joseph Ashley, 62, Goleta, Calif., and Peter Eaves, 33, Maplewood, Minn.