2/2 © Reuters. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández addresses Congress in Tegucigalpa 2/2
By Gustavo Palencia TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said Wednesday that accusations by US prosecutors about his involvement in organized crime could affect cooperation with Washington in the fight against drug trafficking. US prosecutors, in a filing in federal court in New York on February 5, said Hernández used Honduran law enforcement https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-honduras-idUSKBN2A8291 and officials military to protect drug traffickers as part of a plan “to use drug trafficking to help assert power and control in Honduras.” US prosecutors have said Hernández accepted a $ 1 million bribe https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-honduras-drugs-president-idUSKBN1WY03R from Mexican drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was convicted in 2019. and is serving a life sentence in a United States prison. Hernández has denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crime. Hernández, while speaking to the Honduran Congress on Wednesday, said members of the “Los Cahiros” cartel falsely accused him in an effort to seek shorter prison sentences. He warned US officials that believing these accusations could compromise joint security efforts between Washington and Tegucigalpa. “If certain offices in the United States make the mistake of rewarding drug traffickers who give false testimony, instead of increasing their penalties … then the battle that we have waged jointly with our allies against drug trafficking may become unsustainable because there will be loss. Of confidence, “Hernandez said. He added that if Washington takes the accusations against it seriously, “it will mean that sooner or later effective cooperation systems will inevitably collapse.” Hernández, who has been in power since 2014, is a close ally of the United States in Central America. Yet the accusations against him pose a challenge to the Biden administration, which has promised to invest $ 4 billion in Central America to address the root causes of migration from the region. Earlier this week, a group of Democratic senators introduced legislation to impose sanctions on Hernández for corruption and human rights abuses and to suspend US security assistance for the Honduran police and military.