MANAGUA, Nicaragua — President Daniel Ortega called President Reagan "liar of the year" and the leading enemy of regional peace efforts in a New Year's Day speech that was broadcast repeatedly Friday on state television and radio.
In an obvious reference to Time magazine's selection of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev as its man of the year, Ortega said: "While U.S. newspapers chose Gorbachev as man of the year, Reagan should be chosen as liar of the year.
"Reagan is the principal enemy and saboteur of peace in Central America. He cannot be trusted because he is a liar."
Addressing the country's drastic economic crisis, Ortega said that if the war against U.S.-backed rebels were to end "in a short time, we would turn ourselves into the economically most-sound nation in Central America."
In a separate statement published in the newspaper Barricada, the voice of the governing Sandinista National Liberation Front, Ortega scoffed at reports that the Soviet Union is pulling back support for his government to curry favor with the United States. He said Moscow has given Nicaragua more than $2 billion in aid since the Sandinistas seized power in 1979.
Ortega, whose government has been fighting the Contras for six years, has predicted that 1988 will bring more war to the country despite a regional peace accord signed by the Nicaraguan president and his four Central American counterparts last August.