TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, JUNE 12 -- The Honduran military has expelled two Miskito Indian leaders of a Nicaraguan rebel group, preventing them from attending a meeting of Nicaraguan Miskitos aimed at unifying their opposition to the Sandinista government.
The expulsions occurred while U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William Walker was at Tegucigalpa airport preparing to fly to the Miskito meeting site for a brief appearance.
The military yesterday detained Roger Herman and Adan Artolla, leaders of a Miskito rebel group called Kisan, and summarily expelled them on a commercial flight to Miami.
The ostensible reason for the deportations was an interview that Herman had given the day before to a Honduran newspaper in which he discussed arrangements for the Miskito conference in eastern Honduras. The interview violated an informal prohibition by the Honduran military against public statements by Miskito leaders regarding the rebel movement, rebel sources said.
The offending statements by Herman were published Wednesday in the newspaper La Tribuna. Herman was quoted as saying that Kisan was fielding 1,500 guerrillas to provide security for the meeting and that if the Sandinistas dared to attack the conference, it could provoke a conflict between Nicaragua and Honduras.
The meeting, which began yesterday in the remote refugee village of Rus Rus in eastern Honduras, is being held as a result of U.S. pressure on the Miskitos to resolve years of infighting, informed sources said.
The United States is urging the Miskitos to close ranks with non-Indian Nicaraguan rebels if they want to share in a $100 million U.S. aid package approved by Congress last year, the sources said.