Nicaragua's new newspaper El Neuvo Diario surprised its readers one morning last week with a headline suggesting that a superpower summit would be held here during the celebration of the first anniversary of the Sandinista revolution next month.
The headline introduced a story saying President Carter and Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev are among the world leaders invited to the July 19 celebrations.
It seems unlikely that the Nicaraguan journalist's fantasy of Carter and Brezhnev sharing a reviewing stand with special guests Fidel Castro of Cuba and Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization will come true. But the headline illustrates the excitement that is building here in preparation for an ambitious rally to celebrate the fall of dictator Anastasio Somoza.
Bulldozers are clearing space for the new July 19 Plaza, planned to hold 500,000 people -- about one-fifth of the country's population.
Men and women of all ages and walks of life are drilling seven days a week to march to the rally with their units of the newly formed "People's Militias." The Nicaraguan chamber orchestra is rehearsing every night for the premiere of a new folk cantata about national hero Augusto Sandino who fought occupying U.S. Marines in the 1920s and 1930s.
The Sandinista People's Army formed by the guerrillas and youthful civilian supporters who defeated Somoza's National Guard a year ago is preparing its first full-scale military parade.
The ruling Sandinista Liberation Front's high-level anniversary celebration committee has invited a star-studded list of foreign guests including the presidents of Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela, Angela Davis, Jane Fonda and an assortment of other leftists and sympathizers.
Managua's two first-class hotels have been reserved for special guests and journalists, so the government has appealed to Nicaraguan families to rent rooms to foreign visitors.
Foreseeing gigantic traffic jams and other inconveniences, many residents of Managua plan to stock up on food and spend the anniversary period at home in front of the television set.
The elaborate plans to celebrate the anniversary reflect the Sandinsta devotion to retelling the history of Nicaraguan nationalism from the time of Sandino's campaign against the Marines and their ally, the first Anastasio Somoza, until the fall of his son last year.
"The final offensive" that overthrew Somoza began June 4, the anniversary of a general strike called by the Sandinistas.
Every day there are commemorative activities, like the reenactments in some neighborhoods by members of the Sandinista Children's Association of the battles their older brothers and sisters fought in the streets a year ago.
News film is shown on television each night of last year's fighting, bringing back many painful memories.
In addition, photographs are published in the newspapers each day of young men and women -- and even children -- killed in the fighting and bombing of civilians neighborhoods a year ago. Dozens of masses are held each day for the war victims.
Honoring the memory of the "heroes and martyrs" of the struggle against Somoza is important part of the Sandinista mystique, and many neighborhoods have homemade monuments on every block to the guerrillas and civilians killed there by the National Guard.
One corner in the working-class neighborhood of Riguerio has a more elaborate monument, a modernistic fountain erected to the memory ABC correspondent Bill Stewart who was killed on that spot by a National Guardsman.
Last Friday, one year after Stewart's death, Junta member Arturo Cruz dedicated the monument, which bears a plaque saying, "Bill Stewart did not die in a foreign land. We keep alive his memory because he is part of free Nicaragua."
Cruz recalled that the news film of Stewart's death, broadcast around the world, did much to turn international opinion against Somoza's tottering regime.