In midmorning, shrilling sirens in San Jose brought the people of Costa Rica's capital out into the streets. Just nine days after Costa Rica had disbanded its army, the country had been invaded from Nicaragua by supporters of banished ex-President Rafael Calderon Guardia. Costa Rica's provisional government, headed by Colonel Jose Figueres, called the nation to arms, got set to fight for its life.

The first serious clash was in the northwest, at the town of La Cruz (pop. 2,000), where an advance column of attackers from Nicaragua with jeeps, mortars and automatic weapons routed the 15 customs guards in the...

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