Hundreds of people gathered Thursday night in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, to pray for former President Juan Orlando Hernández in front of the police headquarters where he is detained and with an extradition request from the United States, where he is accused of drug trafficking.
“He is not alone,” “Long live JOH,” some 300 supporters shouted at the former president, referring to the former president’s initials.
His wife Ana García, meanwhile, among the participants, lamented what she described as the “derision” of which her husband is a victim.
“They didn’t have to do what they did (…) but I tell them today that there is a God in heaven,” she added, quoted by the AFP news agency.
On Monday, the United States asked Honduras for the extradition of Hernández, accused of introducing 500 tons of cocaine into the US market when he was president of Congress (2010-2014) and then as president (2014-2022).
Given the request, Hernández was arrested the next day without offering any resistance.
He left his home and the police immediately put a bulletproof vest on him and handcuffed his hands and feet with a chain to transfer him to the Special Forces.
On Wednesday he was taken to the hearing before the judge, who gave the lawyers a month to present defense arguments. Then he sent it back to the Special Forces headquarters.
“I want to thank you for this support and tell you that as a family we have a very clear conscience because I know who we are,” Garcia said.
“I saw him work tirelessly, like no other, put his chest up for this nation, to restore peace and security,” said Hernández’s wife.
On February 7, the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, said that Hernández was included on July 1, 2021 in the list of people accused of corruption or undermining democracy in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“The United States is promoting transparency and accountability in Central America by making public the visa restrictions against the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, due to corrupt acts,” Blinken tweeted, when disclosing the information.
Hernández, who left the Honduran presidency on January 27, was implicated by New York prosecutors as having ties to drug trafficking. His brother, former deputy “Tony” Hernández, was sentenced in March 2021 to life imprisonment in the United States for that crime.
Hernández rejects the charges, criticizing that the decision was made based on “media reports and also statements by drug traffickers and confessed murderers” who were extradited by his government.