January 16, 2002

Famed Nicaraguan rebel heading home

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) --A famed Nicaraguan guerrilla leader known as
"Comandante Zero" says he is selling his house and heading for a seaside shack to
resume his original profession: shark fishing.

Eden Pastora became famous when he led a Sandinista rebel seizure of the National
Palace on August 28, 1978, helping to hasten the fall of dictator Anastasio Somoza.

He later turned against the increasingly leftist Sandinista government and led a
contingent of Contra rebels during the 1980s.

Now 65, Pastora says being a retired rebel leader doesn't pay the bills.

"I'm broke. I owe the banks and nobody wants to buy my souvenirs," Pastora said
in an interview.

Late last year, Pastora said he tried to sell a gold ring that former Panamanian
strongman Omar Torrijos had given him and a gold watch that was a gift from the
Sandinistas after his attack on the National Palace.

"Nobody wanted to buy," he said.

While several friends spoke about starting a bank account to collect donations for
the aging guerrilla, "the account was never opened," he said.

He has gradually sold off his belongings, including a lion he sold to a circus for
$900. "Simba, my lion, found work before I did," Pastora said.

As soon as Pastora sells his Managua house -- which he thinks is worth about
$85,000 -- he plans to move to land he owns on the Caribbean coast and build a

Many former Sandinista and Contra leaders have become wealthy. But Pastora,
famed for his wit, charisma and exuberant self-regard, said he had fallen on hard
times "because I am an honorable man.

"It was my father's fault," he said, "because he almost killed me once when I stole a
peso from my sister to buy ice cream."

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press