Will the new government in Honduras turn over outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández to US authorities? This in order to be prosecuted for drug trafficking crimes.
by Maibort Petit
Freedom Voice Reports
A series of indications, unofficial information, as well as data provided by Honduran political sources, show the -for now- veiled intention of the next government of Xiomara de Zelaya to hand over to the judicial authorities of the United States the still president, Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). This in order to be prosecuted for drug trafficking crimes.
Although there is currently no formal accusation against JOH, his name came up during the trial that followed his brother, former deputy Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández,in which he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking. There, federal prosecutors in the case accused the Honduran president of being a co-conspirator in the plot that landed his brother in jail.
About the Author
Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specialized in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for various Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for various firms in New York and Washington DC.
A suspicion that adds more uncertainty to the already rarefied political climate prevailing in the Central American nation in the midst of which Xiomara Castro de Zelaya will assume the presidency of the Republic on January 27 before a National Congress in which two boards of directors dispute the command. A situation that becomes even more serious if one takes into account the divergence that operates within the political organization of the elected president, namely the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre).
Undoubtedly, for Castro the first of his challenges to face is to assume control of parliament, since it is necessary to put order if he wants to have legislative support in his administration. And from what he has shown so far, his intention is to "recover the National Congress", and he has called on the militancy of Libre to take action in support of this initiative. For now, she is reluctant to be sworn in by Jorge Cálix, who she considers the architect of the betrayal, and for that reason she has ruled in favor of carrying out her swearing-in before the sentencing judge Karla Lizeth Romero Dávila.
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A possibility that specialists consider remote, since the Honduran Constitution stipulates that the president of the National Congress is the one who takes the oath of office to the president and, in case of not being able to do so, it corresponds to the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, establishing that if he does not have this either, a judge of letters would do it and, ultimately, a justice of the peace. The truth is that the ruling party is cracked on the eve of its flag bearer assuming the presidency of the Central American nation.
A drawback that must be overcome since, although she obtained 1.7 million votes, the Freedom and Refoundation Party barely obtained 50 deputies, meanwhile the Salvador Party of Honduras (PSH), an organization with which she had reached an agreement, barely achieved 10 seats.
This agreement established that Salvador Nasralla's party (the PSH) would not stand for election as a presidential candidate if Libre guaranteed him the vice presidency and the possibility of electing the board of directors of the Congress. Luis Redondo (attached to the PSH) was castro and Nasralla's token for the presidency of the parliament, but a group of Libre parliamentarians who denounced not having been taken into account in the negotiations and ended up agreeing with the 44 deputies of the National Party and the minorities, to promote Jorge Cálix and his own directive. On Tuesday, January 25, when the installation of the first legislature of the 2022-2026 period corresponded, two processes of installation of the National Congress were scheduled,one that was convened by the deputies who support Luis Redondo as president of the parliament, and the other, by those who support Jorge Cálix, the first was face-to-face and the second virtual.
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From the United States, the government calls for calm in the face of this panorama and asks political actors to "refrain from violence and provocative rhetoric, and we urge their supporters to express themselves peacefully respecting the rule of law" and to disturb the inauguration of Xiomara Castro.
Xiomara Castro's Warning
The "traitors" were expelled from Libre and Xiomara Castro de Zelaya in the calls he has formulated to hold vigils in the basement of the National Congress ordered "to stop the businesses of organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking that represent 'JOH' now within Libre to prevent the transformation of Honduras." Was Xiomara Castro warning Juan Orlando Hernandez about what his future might be?
In any case, she would not be the only one who has made the notice, because also the Democratic congresswoman, Norma Torres, asked for patience from Hondurans in the face of the crisis, as it will begin the calls for extradition of the "appointed in the court of NY. Patience, the nightmare is already over."
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But the warnings, then, would be part and part, given that from the Judicial Branch it has been reported that Judge Romero Dávila has, at least, three complaints that link her to organized crime,while she has been accused by her colleagues of negotiating files in the courtroom.
And either before each other, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya will take office this Thursday, January 27, and this will be witnessed by the Ibero-American left that will meet in the Central American nation represented by the president of Panama, Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo (center-left);
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard; Venezuelan Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia; the president-elect of Chile, Gabriel Boric; Cristina Fernández, Argentine vice president; Evo Morales, former Bolivian president; Fernando Lugo, former Paraguayan president; Leonel Fernández, former Dominican president; José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former president of the Spanish government.
All of them sponsored by the US vice president, Kamala Harris,who comes to give her backing to the mandate of Castro de Zelaya. And not only from the US executive branch. They have given a nod to Xiomara Castro, but also from Congress, where Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said Castro's victory is "a great opportunity."
The democrats of the legislature have indicated that among the conversationsthey have held with the Honduran president-elect, the possibility of reinstalling an international anti-corruption and impunity mission has been handled,of the same characteristics of the extinct Anti-Corruption and Anti-Impunity Mission in Honduras (MACCIH), supported by the OAS and that ceased to exist by order of JOH in January 2020.
And before all the indications indicated the question arises of whether the presence of Kamala Harris also comes to endorse what until now is only a warning from Xiomara Castro regarding Juan Orlando Hernández.
It should also be remembered that also during the trial that in a New York court followed the Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes, the federal prosecutor, Jacob Gutwillig,maintained that Juan Orlando Hernández agreed to an alliance with a local cartel, the Cachiros, which helped him introduce thousands of kilos of cocaine into the United States.
At the same time, Gutwillig described Honduras as a "narco-state" where a huge cocaine distribution business operates thanks to violence and its connections with the police, the army and the political class, "including the current president of Honduras."
According to the prosecutor, JOH's alliance with "the Cachiros" occurred in 2013, when he was running for president, and that together they planned to send "as much cocaine as possible to the United States." Evidence presented at Fuentes' trial indicated that Hernandez allegedly received bribes from Fuentes of $25,000 in cash from drug money.