Officials Say Two Detained Americans May Be Military Advisers To Contras
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ Two Americans captured in a pre-dawn raid on an isolated ranch near the Nicaraguan border may have been acting as military advisers to rebel forces fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government, a Costa Rican official said.
Interior Minister Enrique Obregon Valverde on Friday identified the Americans as Steven P. Carr and Robert Thompson. Their ages and homestowns were not immediately available.
Two Britons, a Frenchman, and nine Nicaraguans also were arrested in the raid Wednesday near the village of Las Delicias de Pocosol 12 miles south of Nicaragua.
Col. Rigoberto Badillo, a Rural Guard commander, said troops found a large cache of arms and ammunition, including rifles, bazookas, machine guns and grenades, at the ranch. He said the Americans and Europeans apparently were acting as military advisers to the Nicaraguans in the camp.
U.S. Embassy sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said those arrested conceivably could be charged with illegal possession of firearms and violation of Costa Rica’s neutrality law. But no charges were announced.
Johnny Campos, vice minister of public security, said the National Security Council would review the case Monday.
The ranch where the men were detained is managed by an American named John Hall, who in the past has been linked to rebels under the command of Eden Pastora, the head of the Revolutionary Democratic Alliance. There have been reports that Hall allowed the ranch to be used for air drops of supplies for the rebel forces. Hall is believed to be out of the country.
La Nacion, Costa Rica’s largest daily newspaper, said the camp apparently was run by the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest of several Contra rebel groups.
If true, it would be the first time that a Nicaraguan Democratic Force camp has been uncovered in Costa Rica.
The Nicaraguan Democratic Force’s fighters have operated mainly in the mountains of northern Nicaragua, where for more than three years they have battled Sandinista troops and sabotaged economic targets from bases inside Honduras. However, the group is believed to have been operating along the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border in recent months.
Pastora, a hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution who later turned against his former comrades because of their growing ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union, has concentrated his campaign in the jungles of southern Nicaragua just across the border from Costa Rica.
He has refused to cooperate with the larger, better armed Nicaraguan Democratic Force, claiming its military command is controlled by former officers of the National Guard of rightist Anastasio Somoza, who was overthrown in Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution.
The Reagan administration contends the Sandinists betrayed their promise to install a pluralistic, democratic government and instead have imposed a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected President Reagan’s request for $14 million in aid for the Contras.