The Miami Herald
April 12, 2000

 Former contras leave Peruvian Embassy

 Government assures ex-rebels they will not be prosecuted

 Special to The Herald

 MANAGUA -- Seventeen former contra rebels left the grounds of the Peruvian
 Embassy on Tuesday after receiving assurances from the government that they
 would not be prosecuted and that President Arnoldo Aleman would set up a
 commission to study their grievances and report within 30 days.

 The former rebel fighters climbed into pickup trucks to return to their farms, a day
 after they had scaled a fence and occupied the embassy grounds.

 The standoff ended after former contra Commander Walter ``Toño'' Calderon met
 with representatives of the government, Peruvian Ambassador Alfredo Arnaiz and
 Archbishop Abelardo Mata of Esteli.

 The protesters said they occupied the embassy's small garden to draw attention
 to their claim that only a tiny fraction of their members have received titles to land
 promised in peace negotiations more than a decade ago. Those negotiations
 brought an end to the war between the leftist Sandinistas then ruling Nicaragua
 and the U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries called contras.

 During the occupation, the front-yard garden at the modest embassy resembled a
 country fair, with bottles of soda and plastic bags of orange juice being passed
 through the iron grill fence to the ex-contras.

 ``We took a wild gamble that the Peruvians might help us and so far they have
 been nice to us,'' one man said.

 Meanwhile, 15 former rebels who helped block a road at Boaco, northeast of
 Managua, on Monday, have been arrested and jailed. It was the second such
 protest in four days. A group estimated to number as many as 600 people placed
 large boulders to stop traffic at a highway junction. When anti-riot police armed
 with tear gas and rubber bullets arrived to disperse the crowd, some of the
 protesters opened fire on them, wounding four people -- three police officers and a