The leftist Sandinista government Friday released almost 1,900 former National Guardsmen, most of them jailed since the 1979 revolution that ousted President Anastasio Somoza.

The prisoners were freed in a ceremony at the Jorge Navarro Penal Rehabilitation Center in Tipitapa, 15 miles east of Managua.The release was a first step in complying with an agreement by Central American presidents on democratization in Nicaragua and the eventual disbanding of U.S.-supported guerrillas that have been fighting the Sandinista government.