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8 Feb, 2022 15:28

US declassifies blacklisting of one nation's president

Then-President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez was barred from entering the US over “significant corruption”
US declassifies blacklisting of one nation's president

Washington has declassified information on the blacklisting last year of Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernandez, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

Hernandez was barred from entering the US after it had received “credible” reports he’d “engaged in significant corruption by committing or facilitating acts of corruption and narco-trafficking, and using the proceeds of illicit activity to facilitate political campaigns.,” the top American diplomat explained on Monday.

Hernandez was named in sworn testimony in a US federal criminal proceeding over claims he was handed the proceeds of drug trafficking, part of election campaign donations he received. While leader of Honduras, he was added to Washington’s Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors list. With Hernandez having now left office, the US has declassified the decision.

The inclusion of Hernandez on the list would have made him “ineligible for visas and admission to the United States.” He denies the allegations, responding to America’s disclosure by highlighting his achievements in tackling street crime and addressing drug traffickers’ attempts to move narcotics into the United States.

He said it was surprising that the US had taken the move against him based on media reports and accusations from drug traffickers and murderers who had been extradited from Honduras.

In 2021, a US court sentenced Hernandez’s brother Tony to life in prison for drug trafficking, after finding him guilty of smuggling tonnes of cocaine into the US. Prosecutors had stated that Tony Hernandez, himself a former politician, had bribed law enforcement and was complicit in at least two murders.

53-year-old Juan served as President of Honduras for eight years, finishing his term on January 27, when he was succeeded by the country’s first female president, Xiomara Castro.