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Honduran President Accused of Taking Bribes From Drug Traffickers

President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Miami, Florida, USA.
President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Miami, Florida, USA. (Photo: President, El Salvador)

During the trial of Tony Hernández, a US prosecutor alleged that his brother, President Juan Orlando Hernández received 1.5 million in bribes.

(By Peoples Dispatch) The long-awaited trial of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández on charges of drug trafficking began on Wednesday, October 2 in New York. Tony Hernández, the younger brother of the President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández, is accused of trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States. During the opening of the trial, a US prosecutor alleged that Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, commonly known as  “El Chapo”, gave 1 million USD to Tony as a bribe that was intended for the president himself.

Prosecutor Jason Richmon also alleged that Tony Hernández used his brother’s administrative connections to smuggle large amounts of cocaine into the US for years and in exchange of bribes, while JOH provided him with protection. Tony Hernandez was arrested during an anti-drug operation in Miami in November 2018 and has been charged with four separate crimes. The New York prosecutor has labelled JOH as a co-conspirator of the case. Honduras is a major transit route for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to the US.

In the trial, Richmond stated that JOH and other politicians and government officials “relied on drug proceeds to fund National Party campaigns and other political operations, to control large swaths of the Honduran government, to bribe officials who helped ensure safe passage for their cocaine.”

In a tweet, President Hernández denied any involvement in drug crimes. He said that the allegations were “100% false, absurd and ridiculous” and were “less serious than Alice in Wonderland.”

Nevertheless, the case has once again brought to light the corrupt and fraudulent character of the government of JOH. In August, when documents from the case were leaked which named JOH as a co-conspirator, the social and political movement calling for JOH’s resignation, strengthened immensely. Massive demonstrations were held across Honduras in the week when the report was released demanding the resignation of narco-dictator.

JOH is considered to be a close ally of US President Donald Trump’s administration. Last week, he visited the US and signed a Safe-Third Country immigration agreement to cut down the number of migrants from Central American countries seeking asylum in the US. The said agreement would allow the US to send asylum seekers to Honduras to process their asylum applications. However, thousands of Hondurans leave their country every month, mainly for the US, due to the endemic poverty, violence, corruption and lack of opportunities in the country.

Since, JOH’s fraudulent re-election in November 2017, there have been several series of mobilizations against his neoliberal, anti-people and repressive policies. The corruption case, as well as the inhuman immigration agreement, reinforce the popular belief that the government is corrupt and not working in the interests of its people.

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