President Anastasio Somoza has accused President Carter, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and the "liberal wing of the Democratic Party" of "finagling" to bring down his government with acts such as the recall earlier this month of portions of the U.S. military and economic missions here.
Noting that he is "angry, but I keep my cool," Somoza said he has no plans to retaliate by ejecting other U.S. diplomats or recalling any of his own diplomats from Washington.
Somoza said he intends to keep his "foot in the door" in Washington, and that he would continue "playing politics with Jimmy Carter" despite the U.S. actions.
"If you analyze what is going on here," Somoza said in a recent interview, "you'd have to say I'm pretty patient."
The U.S. withdrawals were in response to Somoza's rejection last month of U.S.-sponsored proposal for a referendum on his continuing presidency. The proposal was part of an international mediation effort that began here last October, following nearly a year of violence which peaked in September in a civil war between government troops and guerrilla-led anti-Somoza civilians.
Somoza also said he has received a five-year renegotiation of Nicaragua's $300 million debt to foreign commercial banks, primarily in the United States, following U.S. administration blockage of loans to his government by multilateral lending institutions.
He said he told the banks, including Citibank and the Bank of Chicago, to "go ask the United States government for their money" when Nicaragua was no longer able to make payments on the debt last October. As of the beginning of this year, Somoza said, Nicaragua is paying only interest on its commercial bank loans.
The imminent financial collapse predicted here last fall when the majority of Nicaragua's business groups participated in anti-Somoza strikes and widespread fighting severely disrupted the economy has not occurred. But business sources say the government is in tight financial straits and has only enough money to pay salaries. They said that both the construction industry and internal commerce have come to a near standstill as a steady level of violence continues.
Regular guerrilla raids continue along Nicaragua's southern and northern borders. Last weekend, the government of Honduras reportedly accused Nicaragua of violating its air space while pursuing guerrillas across the northern frontier.
Last Friday, eight unarmed youths reportedly occupied the belltower of a Leon church with the permission of the parish priest, for a 12-hour nonviolent protest in solidarity with striking Managua hospital workers.
A passing National Guard patrol, which later claimed that the protesters had been armed and had taunted them, entered the church and machine-gunned five of the youths. Calling the deaths a "massacre," leaders of the leftist Patriotic Front opposition coalition began their own protest by occupying a Managua church, again with the permission and apparent support of the clergy.
The Patriotic Front, a coalition of more than 20 student, labor and political groups -- some with close ties to the Sandinista Liberation Front guerrillas -- was formed last month as an alternative to the largely conservative Broad Opposition Front coalition.
The Broad Opposition Front participated as the recognized opposition in the mediation talks with the government. Many of its member groups left that coalition when the talks failed, and some of those remaining now say that they see little hope of ousting Somoza soon.
Surprisingly, some of the front's leaders say that Somoza, who has won somewhat of a victory here over the past year by resisting strong pressures, may now be persuaded by the United States to step down before his term ends in 1981.
As evidence that Somoza may be considering that, they point to his promotion several weeks ago of his 27-year-old son, Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero, from major to lieutenant colonel in the National Guard.
Somoza, moderate opposition sources said, is believed to be maneuvering to maintain family control of the National Guard, the real seat of power in Nicaragua, in case he is forced to leave.
While there is little evidence of widespread weakening of National Guard support for Somoza, a lieutenant colonel was summarily discharged two weeks ago following publication in the opposition press of his written protest of Somoza's monolithic control of the Guard.