One year after $100 million in U.S. aid for the Nicaraguan rebels was approved, they have carried the fighting to many corners of Nicaragua but remain far from challenging the Sandinistas' control, according to U.S. diplomats and military officers, rebel leaders and Sandinista commanders.
What the rebels, or contras, did in the past year, these sources said, was to complete the first phase of an unfolding prolonged insurgency. At the current pace, the contras will require U.S. aid at the same levels for years to come to be able to threaten Sandinista rule, sources on all sides said.
In Nicaragua, Sandinista military leaders suppress much news about contra combat. But the pressure has not made them revise their confident rhetoric. [Joaquin Cuadra] asserted that the contras' strength reached a peak that was dangerous for the Sandinistas in 1984, before the first U.S. aid cutoff, but that in the following two years the Sandinistas dealt the contras an "irreversible strategic defeat" and are now concerned primarily with upgrading their conventional capabilities to prepare for a direct attack by the United States.
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