Deposed Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza, who vowed last month to take up the life of a guerrilla if overthrown, resigned today, flew to Miami in a Lear-jet and rode into exile in a Cadillac limousine.
"I am not ashamed to tell you that I am Somoza," the proud and defiant dictator said from the sun-drenched rear porch of his $575,000 Sunset Island mansion. "I ran the Liberal Party."
Somoza ran the Nicaraguan Liberal Party until early today, when he ended 43 years of family rule by resigning as president. Accompanying Somoza on the five-hour flight to south Florida were his oldest son, his half-brother and 100 other ranking military and political leaders.
In Miami, Somoza said he would continue to fight the "internation communist conspiracy" that he said engineered his fall.
"My plans are to keep on fighting for democracy, within the laws of the United States," Somoza said."And I will fight . . . with my writing, with my thinking, to convince the people of the United States that they are threatened by a tremendous conspiracy to take away the privileged life you have."
Somoza spoke to reporters in a clear, stern voice, while four State Department security men kept reporters from venturing too close.
Three helicopters with more security guards flew in low, lazy circles above the two-story home.
Somoza said he had no immediate plans, adding he would return to Nicaragua only "if my people asked me."
"I am prepared, my friend, for the eventualities that politics give you. If it is a lifetime in exile, I will wipe floors if I must."
But even he discounted that possibility. "I have many friends who are going to make my asylum easier," he said, smiling.
Somoza, whose wealth is estimated at $100 million to $1 billion,has extensive property holdings outside Nicaragua. He and close relatives control several South Florida businesses, including Central American Real Estate Corp. and Central American Beef and Seafood Trading Co. of Miami.
A van from the trading firm delivered an air conditioner to the Somoza compound today.
The dictator's son Julio expressed doubt that the new Nicaraguan government would try to extradite Somoza for trial, but just hours after Somoza left the country, the new ruling junta announced it will seek extradition.
Somoza is living in the former home of Coleman Carroll, late Catholic archbishop of the Miami Diocese. The white house with blue shutters and a pool is assessed at more than $500,000.
Guards stood by the only entrance to the grounds today, checking the identification of visitors.
Most residents of Sunset Islands - four tiny islands with tree-lined streets and large, luxurious homes - said they welcomed their new neighbor.
"We're very glad to have him," said Josephine Brooks. "He won't change our situation a bit. Maybe he'll join the (homeowner's) association."
"I don't know if he's a menace or if his security helps ours," said another resident.
Others feared they might be the unintentional victims of reprisals by Somoza opponents.
"The only thing that worries me is someone taking a pot shot at Somoza and instead hitting my kid," another resident said. "I don't believe this will happen. The man has managed to stay alive in Nicaragua. I don't see why he can't stay alive on Miami Beach."
A State Department spokesman in Washington said the United States would provide security for Somoza "for a very short term."
Somoza and his son arrived in the United States under business-tourist visas that listed their occupations as "industrialist." The visas allow them to remain for four years.
Somoza spoke of his U.S. "assylum," but State Department spokesman said he had not been granted political asylum.