The United States applied hard pressure in public and private yesterday to prevent the unraveling of previously negotiated arrangements for the transfer of power in war-torn Nicaragua.
The U.S. efforts included an implicit threat to deport former Nicaraguan president Anastasio Somozo, who flew into exile in Miami early Tuesday, unless he would cooperate in convincing his allies in Managua to turn over power as scheduled to the Sandinista-backed Provisional Government of National Reconciliation.
The State Department, in an unusually strong statement, denounced interim President Francisco Urcuyo for "refusal...to abide by the commitments that he and former president Somoza have made."
In a further display of disapproval, the United States recalled amabassador Lawrence Pezzulo and most of the remaining staff of the American Embassy in Managua.
American officials, who had played an important role in laborious negotiations to arrange a peaceful transition from Somoza rule to Sandinista-backed rule, were angry as well as alarmed at Urcuyo's unexpected bid to remain in power.
The officials said they feared that Urcuyo's maneuvers, though they could not succeed for long, may have damaged the already tenuous chances for moderation and nonviolence in this phase of the Nicaraguan revolution.
There was serious concern among State Department officials that the turn of events, which was assumed to have the acquiescence or blessing of the ousted Somoza, could strengthen the hand of the most radical elements of the revolutionary coalition. Such a result could lead, by design or accident, to the turmoil and bloodbath that Somoza predicted would follow a left-wing takeover.
Early yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher telephoned Somoza in Miami in reaction to the continuing reports that Urcuyo was seeking to cling to power and had refused to permit a planned meeting between officers of the National Guard and the Sandinista army.
According to official sources, Christopher told Somoza that his "solemn commitment" to the arrangements for the transfer of power was part of a package that included U.S. willingness to allow Somoza to take refuge in this country.Christopher "strongly urged Somoza to use his influence to get the situation back on the rails," an official said.
Somoza called back to Christopher three times before noon to continue the dialogue. There were indications that Somoza also telephoned Urcuyo and the newly appointed chief of the Nicaraguan National Guard, Lt. Col. Federico Mejia.
Rep. George V. Hansen (D-Idaho), who spoke to Somoza by telephone, charged that the former Nicaraguan leader had been threatened with being "kicked out of the United States" if he did not cooperate with the transfer of power. State Department officials said no explicit threat was made in Christopher's call, but they did not deny that the statements about the negotiated package deal left that clear implication.
State Department spokesman Hodding Carter, asked for the reason behind the official call to Somoza, replied, "We happen to believe that while he has left the presidency, he has not left the influence with his former colleagues."
The Christopher-Somoza conversations, while apparently postiive in their outcome, did not dissuade the State Department from issuing the tough declaration of its noon briefing and announcing the recall of the U.S. ambassador.
The statement, read by spokesman Carter, charged that Urcuyo's attempt to retain power "threatens to plunge Nicargua into yet another cycle of violence and destruction at the very time when an end to the bloodshed had finally seemed to be in sight."
Carter repeated Tuesday's declaration that the provisional junta had pledged, as part of the negotiated arrangements, "to avoid reprisals, to provide sanctuary to those in fear, to undertake the immense taks of national reconstruction and to respect human rights and hold free elections."
Carter announced that U.S. Air Force aircraft already had landed in Managua to take out Pezzulo and the majority of his staff.
Somoza spent much of his second day in exile giving interviews, beginning with two American television networks and going on to a full news conference in the dining room of his well appointed mansion.
He told the news conference that his attempt to telephone President Carter Friday night was to "to tell him personally that the people coming into power don't believe in the right of private property ownership or the freedom of movement on the freedom of the press.... They want to run Nicaragua just like Cuba."