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Honduran Army Only Half as Big as Experts Thought

June 19, 1996

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ The Honduran army has thousands of paper soldiers in the barracks.

For years, the military kept troop figures a secret. Obliged by a new election law, the generals have released a manpower list that shows Honduras’ army is only half as numerous as previously thought.

Analysts had estimated the army had 6,000 officers and 12,000 enlisted men.

But Tuesday’s list shows Honduras actually has a total of 12,115 troops, including 12 generals and 2,013 other officers.

Luis Sandres, director of voting registry, said the accounting was needed to eliminate soldiers from voting lists ahead of the 1997 elections. Soldiers in Honduras are not allowed to vote.

The army retains a large measure of legal autonomy in Honduras, which was governed by the military from 1963 to 1981.

But the military is adjusting to the 1995 abolition of conscription and drastic cuts in U.S. aid, which totaled more than $600 million from 1979 to 1990 because of civil wars in neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua.

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