YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Contras Taking War Into Nicaragua, Leader Says

January 08, 1987|BARRY BEARAK | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — The Nicaraguan guerrillas, armed with a new supply of weapons purchased with U.S. aid, have recently made deep penetrations into Nicaragua, rebel leader Adolfo Calero said Wednesday at a press conference in Miami.

He asserted that about 10,000 contras are in "positions of combat" against the Sandinista army, spread out in numerous offensives.

"Our plan is to be . . . like a good guerrilla outfit, everywhere and nowhere throughout Nicaragua, to bring about consciousness of the war to the civilian population," he said.

Protest Garcia's Visit

Leaders of the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO) called the press conference primarily to criticize Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who has just visited Nicaragua in support of the leftist Sandinista government.

"We consider this most unfortunate and definitely not an aid to the establishment of democracy in Nicaragua," Calero said.

But during a question-and-answer session, the contra leaders discussed a wide range of topics. They said that:

--The rebels have now received "substantial amounts of materials" from the $100-million U.S. aid package approved by Congress last October.

--Radio Liberacion, the rebels' radio station, is already sending a strong signal into Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, and will begin full-time broadcasting on Jan. 15.

--More than 120 contras arrived in the United States this week for military training, replacing a similar number already schooled here in demolition, mortar fire and radio communications.

--Despite Sandinista contentions that 6,000 contras were killed last year, the rebels' official count lists 400 dead and 1,200 wounded.

--Secret airlifts, including the one in which American Eugene Hasenfus was shot down, were not worth "nearly as much" as the $8.5 million suggested Tuesday by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

--Thus far, during the entire scandal over U.S. arms sales to Iran and the diversion of profits to the contras, no member of the United Nicaraguan Opposition's leadership has been interviewed by federal investigators or subpoenaed by congressional committees.

Welcome Peace Initiative

"As we have said before, this is not our problem but a domestic situation in the United States," Calero said.

Calero was flanked by Arturo Cruz and Alfonso Robelo, UNO's other directors. They said they were undisturbed by a peace initiative being discussed Wednesday in Miami by President Reagan's special envoy, Philip C. Habib, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and Costa Rica's foreign minister, Rodrigo Madrigal Nieto.

"We have always been in support of any peace plan. . . ," Calero said. "We don't know (what) this one contains, but we are sure that, coming from a president of a democratic country in Central America, it will not be a cosmetic plan offering cosmetic solutions."

Los Angeles Times Articles