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Contras Dissidents Disappear; Family Blames Contra Leader

May 6, 1988

MIAMI (AP) _ The whereabouts were unknown early today of five Contra officials who had expected to be expelled from Honduras, and one of their wives blamed their disappearance on Contra military commander Enrique Bermudez.

Bermudez, who has been at the center of a bitter power struggle within Contra ranks for several weeks, had been accused by some of the missing men of corruption and surrounding himself with supporters of deposed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle.

The men were detained by Honduran security police Tuesday, and some of the men told their wives after their arrest that they expected to be expelled from the country Thursday.

″There is no doubt that Bermudez is responsible,″ said Marsha Lacayo, wife of missing Contra military adviser Donald Lacayo.

Mrs. Lacayo said the men wrote a letter April 16, which was to be opened in case anything happened to them, blaming Bermudez in advance for ″any attack on our lives, damages, injuries or deaths.″

At a news conference Thursday in Washington, Bermudez denied having any information about the whereabouts of the missing Contras.

But they failed to show up at the airport in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and their whereabouts are unknown, Mrs. Lacayo said here Thursday night.

However, Honduran authorities said the men were expelled. Manuel Suarez Benavides, a Honduran armed forces spokesman, said the five dissident military commanders left Thursday on a flight to Miami.

″We don’t want the Contras to settle their problems in Honduras,″ Suarez Benavides said. ″The Contras must resolve their internal affairs outside of our national territory.″

The U.S.-backed Contras are waging a guerrilla war to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

Bosco Matamoros, a spokesman for the Nicaraguan Resistance, a Contra umbrella group, arrived in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on Thursday but refused to comment on the whereabouts of the five.

One of the five is Enrique Sanchez, brother of Contra director Aristides Sanchez, according to Mrs. Lacayo. Enrique Sanchez, like Lacayo, was a civilian aide to the Contra military forces.

The other detainees were Walter Calderon Lopez, known as Commander Tono; Tirzo Ramon Moreno, known as Commander Rigoberto; Alejandro Montealegre and a rebel pilot identified only as Waikita.

Adolfo Calero, one of the five directors of the Resistance, reportedly agreed with the dissidents that Bermudez should be removed, in part because he has opposed parts of the peace agreement with the Sandinista goverment.

Calero unsuccessfully tried to persuade the other four directors to remove Bermudez, but the leaders deadlocked.

Mrs. Lacayo said a Contra military doctor ran into a top aide to Bermudez at the airport at the same hour that Mrs. Lacayo’s husband and the others were being arrested. The aide said the men were to be expelled immediately.

One commander, Diogenes Hernandez Membreno, also known as Fernando, escaped detention when the others were arrested and is in hiding, Mrs. Lacayo said.

Until January, Fernando was the personnel assistant to Bermudez, a former colonel in Somoza’s hated National Guard.

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