An unusually large number of pedestrians as well as patrols of armed militia and police crowded the streets of Bogot'a yesterday as a result of a general strike called by the CSTC, the Confederation of Colombian Labor Unions. The night before, President Belisario Betancur called an emergency Cabinet meeting in which he denounced the strike as an antisocial and illegal act. He vowed to place under suspension for one year all people involved in fomenting the work stoppage and to freeze the funds of all labor groups that take part in the strike in any way.
Acts of sabotage in connection with the strike -- known here as ``Il Paro'' -- include manufacture of especially sharp, multipronged tacks designed to puncture automobile tires.
A worker at Profamilia, a family planning center, reported that she set out on foot at 3 a.m. from her home on the outskirts of Bogot'a to arrive at work in the center of town by 6 a.m. The train she usually rides had been bombed.
The large number of pedestrians on the street Thursday was the result of work stoppages on the part of bus companies in sympathy with the strike and of an effort to avoid damage to the vehicles resulting from acts of sabotage or terrorism that were expected to occur in the city. Interruptions of telephone service were also reported Thursday morning.
The gravest concern over the strike arose from the suspected support of the terrorist guerrilla group M19 for the activities of the leftist political faction FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios Colombianos).
It is said that members of M19, headed by Manuel Marulanda (Sureshot) V'elez, used loudspeakers on Wednesday to incite workers to join in yesterday's strike.
The M19 is said to be a guerrilla movement with no clearly defined philosophy. Its activities and those of the FARC are alleged to be financed by the illegal drug traffic of the Colombian Mafia, who in turn are suspected of supplying the guerrilla group with arms reportedly sent into Colombia from Cuba.
Former US Ambassador Lewis A. Tambs is said to have been criticized for referring to such support of the illegal Colombian drug industry.
Terrorist incidents pointing to US action, McFarlane says
Robert C. McFarlane, assistant to the President for national security affairs, said Thursday the slaying of six Americans in El Salvador and the hostage crisis in Beirut show ``it's a time for testing'' the United States and warned that in the face of such violence, ``action is justified.'' He added that the type of action he meant involved making clear there is ``a price to pay among the terrorists for this kind of thing.'' Mr. McFarlane said he did not envison the use of American military force in El Salvador, but said that the US must ``assist the Salvadoran government and make sure we bring a halt to this kind of outrage.''
Fire at Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington `suspicious'
Four deliberately set fires did $30,000 to $50,000 in damage to the Nicaraguan embassy early Thursday, District of Columbia fire officials and the FBI said. Police said the building was broken into and the fire was started on the first floor. Police and fire officials had begun an investigation but said there were no suspects in custody. They acknowledged that the fire was of ``suspicious origin.''
Senate panel holds up action on Reynolds's nomination
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17 to 0 Thursday to postpone action on the nomination of William Bradford Reynolds as associate attorney general. The Republicans, who control the committee 10 to 8, lost their advantage when Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said he would not vote for a favorable recommendation of Mr. Reynolds but would support a motion to report the nomination without a recommendation.
Discovery launches satellite to search for a black hole
The space shuttle Discovery's astronauts launched a science satellite Wednesday to search for a mysterious black hole at the core of the Milky Way. The space agency also said the crew will have another chance on Friday to conduct a ``star wars'' laser test ruined on the first try by a mix-up at Mission Control. The satellite will aim an X-ray camera at the suspected black hole, 180 trillion miles from Earth.
Security Council resolution broaches Namibia sanctions
The United States, Britain, and France did not use their veto power to stop a resolution by the UN Security Council for the UN to consider the use of sanctions against South Africa. The resolution -- adopted by 13 votes and two abstentions (the US and Britain) -- reaffirms the UN's legal jurisdiction over Namibia and condemns the ``interim'' government put in place there by South Africa.
It also calls on member states to stop new investment in South Africa, to reexamine their air and maritime links with South Africa, and to consider other moves to persuade South Africa to abide by UN Resolution 435, which calls for the independence of Namibia.
This is the first time the US, Britain, and France, which are opposed to sanctions as a matter of principle, have not resisted such a tough UN stance, UN correspondent Louis Wiznitzer reports.
Former Norwegian diplomat convicted of spying for USSR
Arne Treholt, who held high posts in the Foreign Ministry and other government departments, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union Thursday. The former diplomat was found guilty on all but one of the more than 40 counts in the indictment and was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 20 years. Prosecutors say Treholt passed on information about NATO troop and confidential accounts of talks between Norwegian and world leaders.
Greek transport official raps Reagan on airport criticism
Greece's transport minister criticized President Reagan Thursday for urging Americans to avoid Athens airport and complained that the United States did not suggest a boycott of Frankfurt airport, where a bomb killed three people. The minister also released a report by US civil aviation officials who visited in February, saying, ``Improved security will begin to take place, although there is a long road ahead.''
1st black named as trustee of US medical association
The election of Dr. Lonnie R. Bristow, the first black, to the American Medical Association's board of trustees will lead to more minority participation in the organization, AMA delegates said Thursday, calling it a ``landmark'' in AMA history.
Car with explosives kills 60 in north Lebanese port
A car packed with explosives blew up outside a sweet shop in the northern port of Tripoli, killing more than 60 people and wounding at least 100, police said Thursday. Police said the car leveled the six-story building that housed the store crowded with customers buying sweets in celebration of the end of Muslim Ramadan. There was no indication who was responsible for the explosion at time of writing.