TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, FEB. 6 -- In the face of the pending cut in U.S. aid to anti-Sandinista rebels, the head of the Honduran armed forces has said his government will not allow any new Nicaraguan refugees to enter Honduras.
Gen. Humberto Regalado Hernandez said yesterday that the United States had a "moral obligation" to care for any of the rebels, known as contras, who try to leave Nicaragua because of the aid cut. He also warned of a plan by a group of Honduran guerrillas backed by the Sandinista rulers of Nicaragua to attack government officials and electric plants.
Regalado's concern about returning contras is shared by many Honduran politicians who have begun to call for assurances that Washington will deal with any problems that arise because of the aid cut.
The contras insist they will fight on without U.S. help and that their forces will not be a problem for Honduras.
Until late 1986, when U.S. military aid to the contras began to reach Central America after a two-year hiatus, more than 10,000 contra troops sat in Honduran base camps waiting for supplies. As a result, thousands of Honduran civilians were forced from their homes because Sandinista troops crossed the border and fought rebel troops inside Honduras.
The Honduran military has vowed that will not happen again.
Clearly reacting to the threat of armed contras returning to Honduras, Regalado said in an interview with a Honduran radio station that the Army has plans to prevent them from doing so, although he did not elaborate.
He placed the responsibility for the contras squarely on the United States.
"Honduras has not organized or financed the resistance to overthrow the Managua regime and I believe the United States has a moral obligation with these people," he said.
A number of Honduran congressmen have also called on Washington to assume responsibility for any problems caused by contras returning to Honduras.
U.S. Embassy officials in Tegucigalpa refused to comment today on any U.S. obligation to deal with returning contras.
Regalado charged that guerrillas of the Cinchonero Popular Liberation Movement had infiltrated groups from Nicaragua who were planning to assassinate officials and destroy electrical plants.
In the past, Honduran military officers have warned of threats from guerrilla groups, but it has been years since a group has carried out a major operation.
Some diplomats have suggested that warnings of subversion are pretexts for the government to move against its opponents.