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Leaders of Honduran Guerrilla Group Lay Down Arms

May 11, 1991

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Four leaders of a Honduran guerrilla movement say their organization will disarm and become the second leftist group in the Central American country to renounce its armed struggle this year.

The Cinchonero leaders asked all remaining rebels to lay down their arms and urged in a joint statement Friday that ″all political organizations, without exception whatever, build a democratic and multiparty system in the country.″

At least one guerrilla group has not renounced its fight. The Morazano National Liberation Front still focuses its attacks on U.S. military personnel. The United States keeps about 2,000 soldiers stationed in Honduras on a rotating basis and often conducts military exercises here.

The four guerrilla leaders - Efrain Manzanares, Roger Aludin Rosales, Fausto Orellana Luna and Luis Rivera - were presented to journalists at a news conference by President Rafael Leonardo Callejas and Gen. Luis Alonso Discua, head of the armed forces.

The four arrived in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday from Nicaragua and said they belonged to the Cinchoneros’ political-military commission. Manzanares said the Cinchoneros were willing to organize a political party and take part in 1993 general elections.

In October, Callejas issued an invitation to leftists who fled to the Soviet Union, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and Costa Rica during the last 10 years to return to Honduras.

Since January, 41 Honduran leftists have returned with support from the United Nations.

Last month, the Popular Revolutionary Forces announced they were laying down their weapons after years of being blamed for attacks, bombings and the 1982 hijacking of a commercial airliner.

However, Honduran guerrilla actions have been muted compared to insurgencies in neighoring Central American countries, with few deaths.

Neither the Popular Revolutionary Forces, founded in 1980, nor the Cinchoneros, who appeared a year earlier, have carried out sustained warfare. The numbers of members in the shadowy groups is unknown.

The Cinchoneros took their name from Serapio Romero, a peasant who made saddle cinches, or cinchos, and who occupied a Honduran military installation in 1865 as a tax protest.

Romero died in a shootout with the army, which then cut off his head and put it on display as a warning to those similarly inclined.

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