An American oil executive was kidnaped in front of his hotel in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula yesterday evening but escaped this morning when his kidnapers vainly sought aid from the Nicaraguan Embassy here in the capital.
The brief abduction of Texaco regional vice president Arnold Quiroz was the first politically motivated kidnaping in the recent history of Hunduras. Informed diplomatic sources believe it was an attempt by Honduran militants to emulate recent abductions for ransom by leftisit guerrillas in several other Central American countries.
Honduras, now on the eve of parliamentary elections and a possible end to eight years of continuous military rule, until now has been spared the kind of political terror that preceded the Nicaraguan revolution and continues in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala.
Police would release no details of the kidnaping except to say that some suspects are in custody and the rest are being sought. But there are speculation in some government and diplomatic circles that the kidnaping may have been an attempt to disrupt Sunday's balloting or to raise money for future guerrilla activities.
Although there is currently no significant guerrilla action in Honduras, some leftist groups have said they will resort to violence if Sunday's elections appear to be fraudulent.
According to witnesses and local reports, Quiroz a Costa Rican-born U.S. citizen, had just parked his car near the Gran Hotel Sula at about 6:15 p.m. last night when he was confronted by young men wearing stocking masks and carrying pistols beneath folded newspapers.
Quiroz was forced to enter a white van parked nearby and driven away. In all it is believed as many as six people were directlly involved in the abduction.
At about 8 a.m. this morning two of the kidnapers arrived with Quiroz at the Nicaraguan Embassy here. One of the captors stayed in the street while the other and Quiroz went inside the walled embassy compound.
A recedptionist at the embassy said that Quiroz looked dirty and exhausted, his shirt was torn, and she did not recognize him as the dapper executive whose pictures appeared in this morning's newspapers. She did not realize what was going on.
The young kidnaper asked for the ambassador, according to the receptionist but was told he had not arrived yet.
The receptionist gave the kidnaper, who was not visibly carrying arms, the home address of the ambassador but as Quiroz and his abductor were walking through the door in the embassy wall, Quiroz shoved his abductor into the street, slammed the door and fled into the small embassy building, where he stayed drinking coffee and trying to calm himself until the Nicarguan ambassador arrived and called the police.