Ortega denies planning terrorist attacks on Americans
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ President Daniel Ortega said Friday Nicaragua is not helping plan attacks on Americans in Honduras, as Washington claims, and the United States is terrorist because it supports anti-Sandinista rebels.
He spoke to hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters gathered in the capital’s main plaza to mark the sixth anniversary of the rebel victory that toppled the conservative government of President Anastasio Somoza.
″Nicaragua does not support or provoke or encourage terrorism,″ he said, and challenged the United States to prove its allegation in the International Court of Justice. He accused the Reagan administration of practicing ″state terrorism″ through its aid to rebels fighting his left-wing government.
″Who blew up the fuel depots in Corinto, who mined the ports? Who bombed Sandino Airport? Who are the terrorists? The government of the United States or the Nicaraguan people?″ he asked the crowd, which he estimated at 500,000.
His remarks referred to several major attacks that the rebels, also known as Contras, have mounted over the past three years on Nicaraguan targets.
Nicaragua went to the International Court of Justice with charges that the United States violates international law by supporting the Contras. The Reagan administration has said it would not recognize the World Court’s jusrisdiction in the matter.
Many people came in buses and trucks from outlying provinces to hear Ortega speak in the plaza near Lake Managua. They chanted Sandinista slogans - ″No pasaran 3/8″ (They shall not pass 3/8) and ″Aqui, alla, el Yanqui morira″ (Here, there, the Yankee will die).
Eleven Soviet helicopters flew past the plaza, armed with six rockets each in pods of three.
Unlike previous years, when top officials from leftist or Third World countries came to Managua for the anniversary, only minor foreign officials attended Friday’s ceremony.
The Sandinistas came to power after a revolution that ended 42 years of rule by members of the rightist Somoza family, who were supported by the United States.
Tension between the United States and Nicaragua has risen in recent months. The Reagan administration has accused the Sandinistas of jeopardizing peace and security in Central America by establishing close military ties with Cuba and the Soviet Union. It imposed a trade embargo against Nicaragua last spring.
Sandinista officials have repeatedly accused the United States of preparing to invade the country and have moved army tanks into parts of the capital.
Ortega accused the United States of being ″intransigent″ and ″arrogant.″ He said U.S. analysts at the Pentagon mistakenly believed that toppling the Sandinistas ″would be as easy as hitting a drunk on the head.″
Even so, he said, Nicaragua is willing to pursue a negotiated peace under the auspices of Latin American nations and through direct talks.
The United States broke off bilateral talks in January, after nine sessions. U.S. officials said the negotiations, held in Manzanillo, Mexico, were leading nowhere.
On the eve of the anniversary, the Nicaraguan government revealed the Spanish text of a diplomatic note from the United States that accused the Sandinistas of supporting plans for terror attacks against U.S. citizens in Honduras, and said it will hold Nicaragua responsible if any occur. The State Department issued an English text in Washington.
U.S. Ambassador Harry Bergold presented the note on Wednesday. He left on Thursday for a vacation in the United States, with a minor embassy official designated to represent him at the anniversary celebration.
The note said another incident such as the killing of four U.S. Marines and two other Americans in El Salvador on June 19 would have serious repercussions. ″The patience of the U.S. government and of the American people has grown short,″ it said.
In the note, the United States said Nicaragua supports leftist groups in El Salvador, including one that claimed responsibility for the June 19 attack, in which gunmen fired into a sidewalk cafe. The Mardoqueo Cruz Urban Guerrilla Commandos claimed responsibility for the attack and said others on U.S. military personnel would follow as part of the 51/2 -year war against the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government.
In a reply to the note, the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry said Thursday, ″Nicaragua categorically rejects the contents and the form of this missive, which contains false accusations, intolerable threats and is a violation of the form and manner of relations among states.″