Nicaraguan rebel leader Enrique Bermudez has said reductions in U.S. Contra aid programs are destroying the Contras' ability to fight.

"The Sandinistas are receiving $40 million a month in military aid (from the Soviet Union), while we are getting maize and beans. Who has the advantage?" he asked.

Giving a bleak assessment of the rebels' prospects late Friday night in a Central American country he did not want named, the Contras' top military leader bitterly criticized inconsistencies in U.S. support for the rebels.

Current U.S. aid programs "do not allow us to maintain either the integrity or the viability of the army," he told reporters late Friday night.

He said that a majority of Nicaraguans favored a U.S. invasion to end the seven-year war.

Military aid for the rebels was suspended on Feb. 29, making the reb-els feel like "Cinderella at midnight," stripped of support like the fairy tale character whose gown suddenly turned to rags and whose coach became a pumpkin, he said.

Since February the Contras have received only humanitarian supplies. Bermudez said the army was still united but could not remain so forever.

Bermudez, a colonel in the National Guard of the late ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza, was elected political leader of the rebels last month and officially dropped his title of commander of the army, but he continues to direct military strategy.

A new bill in Congress providing $27 million in humanitarian aid would do nothing to put pressure on the Sandinistas to carry out democratic reforms, he said.

But Bermudez added that the reb-els had not given up hope of a major new infusion of military aid to help them recover their fighting strength of 1987, when the Contras received an unprecedented $100 million.

"We're not giving up until we're sure the lottery ticket we're holding won't be a winner," he said.

More than 40,000 people have died in the war.

Around 80 percent of the rebel army would be in Honduras around the start of October if the Contras were still unable to make resupply flights to Nicaragua. The percentage of the army in Honduras was now around 60 to 65, he said.

Resupply flights were suspended with the end of military aid, although the Sandinistas say the Contras still sometimes fly from Honduras.

Bermudez said the arrival of around 1,000 fighters and Contra sympathizers in eastern Honduras a week ago was not part of a policy of pulling out all the rebel's civilian supporters.

The civilians were offered the chance of supplies at the border, he said, adding "when our troops leave a zone . . . the Sandinistas come for our collaborators and imprison them or put them in another zone or kill them."

Military analysts say it may be impossible for the Contras to rebuild their network of informants, couriers and collaborators.

Bermudez ruled out new peace talks with the Sandinistas, saying they would be under no pressure to make concessions since they perceived the Contras as weak.