Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista guerrillas view the United States' invasion of Grenada as a precedent for a similar US invasion aimed at toppling Nicaragua's Sandinista government.
In an interview last week, Edgar Chamorro Coronel, a leader of the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan Democratic Force, characterized US intervention in Nicaragua as highly likely.
He said such a US invasion would not occur until the rebels - or contras as they are called here - have escalated attacks, seized some territory, and begun to seriously challenge Sandinista control.
Recently the contras have struck some serious blows inside Nicaragua - notably the bombing of Managua's airport and the destruction of key oil storage facilities at Puerto Corinto - Chamorro acknowledged they would have to further step up attacks to create a climate favorable for US intervention.
Other developments in the region also appear to be tipping the scales toward a military, rather than a negotiated, solution. One such development was the Reagan administration's summary rejection last week of Sandinista peace proposals for four treaties, including nonaggression pacts, which would involved Nicaragua, the United States, and Honduras. The administration described Nicaragua's proposals as ''deficient.''
The Reagan administration insists that the Sandinistas continue to work within the framework of the slow Contadora process - a peace effort by Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, and Colombia that so far has failed to produce conclusive results for the region. (In contrast, the Sandinistas favor direct bilateral talks with the US.)
The Reagan administration is backing steps to reactivate the Central American Defense Council (CONDECA), a regional anticommunist military alliance that could play a role in Nicaragua similar to that of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in Grenada. (President Reagan cited a request from OECS countries as one of the reasons for US intervention in Grenada.)