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Honeymoon for Sandinistas is over as Nicaraguans show growing mistrust

The fun has gone out of the revolution. In a way, that statement sums up the dwindling of enthusiasm in Nicaragua for the 18-month-old Sandinista government. At fist, a sense of euphoria gripped Nicaragua when the Somoza family dynasty toppled.

The problems ahead, many of them centered on Nicaragua's shattered economy, were immense. But the heady atmosphere of victory, coupled with the romantic mystique of the Sandinista rebels, tended to obscure the problem as Nicaraguans breathed a collective sigh of relief over the end of the Somozas.

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The Sandinistas were promising a pluralistic political system and a mixed economy. Their leaders brought a sense of civility to the political spectrum. "Implacable in war, generous in peace" became their byword. And anything was better than the Somozas.

But now strains are showing. Public disappointment that the economy has not brightened is a gnawing reality for the Sandinista leadership.

Even moe troublesome is private-sector dissactifaction with the junta.

The business community feels it helped prepare the way for the Sandinista triumps with strikes and monetary aid. It feels it deserves an equal role in government.

The Sandinistas argue that they alone should run the government, because it was their guns that destroyed General Somoza's much-vaunted National Guard.

This argument surfaced only nine months into the Sandinista rule, when Alfonso Robelo Callejas and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, the two private-sector representatives on the junta resigned.

Appointments of equally conservative members to the vacant seats helped patch up the dispute, but now the problem has surfaced anew. Last month the government banned a rally called by Mr. Robelo. Eleven business-community representatives of the new 47-member Council of State walked out in protest over the ban.

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On Nov. 17, Jorge Salazar Arguello, vice-president of a key private-sector group, who accused the Sandinistas of implementing a Marxist regime, was killed in a mysterious clash with government security forces. "We have a problem on our hands," admits a Sandinista spokesman.

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