Nicaraguan hostage saga comes to end: Crisis is latest expression of discontent from ex-combatants

THE LAST 10 Nicaraguans held hostage by left-wing guerrillas in Managua and right-wing Contras near Quilali, northern Nicaragua, were on the point of freedom last night as negotiators persuaded the two groups to release their remaining captives.

Radio Ya in Managua interrupted programming to report that the Contras had freed their five hostages, while a guerrilla in Managua said his group was about to free their captives, who include the Vice-President, Virgilio Godoy.

The stand-off began last Thursday when a group of former Contras led by Jose Angel 'The Jackal' Talavera seized dozens of military and civilian officials and demanded the sacking of General Humberto Ortega, the Sandinista army commander, in return for the hostages' freedom. The next day, in retaliation, more than 20 heavily armed gunmen stormed the National Opposition Union (UNO) and took hostage dozens of right-wing opposition politicians, including Mr Godoy and Alfredo Cesar, a former political leader of the Contras.

At dawn yesterday, the two groups each released all but five of their hostages, after talks with two negotiating commissions set up, in an unprecedented show of unity, by the government, Sandinistas and opposition.

Reports of the releases came after the Interior Minister, Alfredo Mendieta, a member of the negotiating team, said the former Contras 'have agreed with us that this is not the proper forum for political demands'. During the talks yesterday another member of the team, Archbishop Juan Mata, whose district includes Quilali, told the rebels: 'It's true that the government has many problems, but they are not the enemies of the people as you say.'

The crisis is the latest expression of discontent in Nicaragua, which has remained impoverished and unstable despite the election in 1990 of Violeta Chamorro, the US-backed candidate who hoped to unite the country and lead it out of war, poverty and economic malaise.

Soldiers from both sides in the civil war have regrouped to demand land and aid; the 'Recontras', former rebels, are also angry that the President has worked with the Sandinistas, still the largest political party, in a pragmatic attempt to govern the country.

While Mrs Chamorro is extremely unlikely to sack Gen Ortega, brother of the former Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega, she may agree to sacrifice lower- level Sandinista officials to meet some Contra demands.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project