Honduran leader warns of drug cooperation with US


TEGUCIGALPÁ – TEGUCIGALPÁ Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said drug cooperation with the United States could “collapse” if US authorities believe “false testimony” accusing him of cooperating with traffickers.

Hernández spoke to the Central American nation’s Congress on Wednesday, a day after several U.S. Democratic senators backed a bill calling on President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on Hernández and “determine whether he is a specially designated drug dealer “.

Hernández has repeatedly denied testimony from witnesses in US drug prosecutions – one of whom convicted his brother – accusing him of accepting bribes from traffickers. He was not charged, however.

On Wednesday, he again claimed that a group known as “Los Cachiros” was seeking revenge on him for allowing their extradition to the United States. He said they “repeatedly lied in the most obvious way” in order to manipulate the US authorities acting against the Honduran officials who were prosecuting them.

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“This would mean, sooner or later, that the systems of effective cooperation that I helped build, which have been repeatedly recognized and praised by Washington, would inevitably collapse – and not just in Honduras, but in several countries of the United States. Americas, ”he said. noted.

On Tuesday, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a bill to isolate Hernández, who in recent years has relied heavily on US government support in the face of national opposition and allegations of ties to drug traffickers.

“The United States cannot remain silent in the face of deeply alarming corruption and human rights abuses at the highest levels of the Honduran government,” Merkley said in a statement. Failure to hold Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, national officials, and members of the police and military accountable for these crimes will fuel widespread poverty and violence and force more families to flee their seeking communities. of security. “

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Merkley’s bill was supported by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, among others.

The bill calls for a suspension of security assistance, seeks to ban the export of items such as tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets for Honduran security forces, and calls on the United States to oppose loans extended to these forces by multilateral development banks.

He also calls on the Honduran government to discuss with the United Nations the creation of an anti-corruption mission. Under Hernández, a similar mission backed by the Organization of American States was not renewed after it began to involve a number of federal lawmakers.

Earlier this month, U.S. prosecutors filed documents in an upcoming lawsuit suggesting the president himself was under investigation. One of his many brothers, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, was convicted in New York of drug conspiracy in 2019.

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