There are also widespread reports of human rights abuses, and international relief workers say the forces often harass and drive back Indian groups that seek to make their own way back to Nicaragua from the refugee camps.
But an increasing number of refugees are willing to risk returning to try to rebuild their lives in their homeland. According to U.N. figures, 1,475 Miskitos returned to Nicaragua in the first six months of 1987--1,714 went back in all of 1986--through a U.N.-sponsored voluntary repatriation program. Under the plan, those seeking to return contact U.N. officials and stay at a U.N. house in Mocoron before they are flown back to Nicaragua.
Fear of Draft
"I do not think I will have a happy life there, but it is better to be poor there than poor here," said a 25-year-old man who identified himself as Carlos as he and 63 others boarded a U.N. truck in Mocoron to start the journey home.
He acknowledged that he was afraid of being drafted into the Sandinista army but said it was a risk he was willing to take to go home.
Other returnees echoed the most common refugee complaints--the scarcity of food provided by the UNHCR and prohibitions by Honduras on opening up new land for the Indians.
"We never have enough to eat; we cannot work or plant. So most of us are returning for economic reasons," said Guillermo, 42, who lived in Honduras for five years.