Honduran civil groups call for president's resignation over drug trafficking charges

Tegucigalpa (AFP) –


Dozens of Honduran civil society organizations on Monday demanded the "immediate" resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez and main government officials for having turned the country into a "narco-state."

Hernandez's brother was sentenced to life in prison by a New York judge at the end of March for large-scale drug trafficking. During the trial, US prosecutors said the president had been a "co-conspirator" in Tony Hernandez's crimes.

The organization leaders said they were "filled with indignation" in a statement released to "unconditionally demand... the immediate departure of Juan Orlando Hernandez from the government (and) the replacement of the high military command" that supports him.

They also called for the resignation of the "attorney general, the president of Congress, the head of the Supreme Court of Justice and the attorney general of the republic," and called to convene a transitional government to carry out the general elections on November 28.

"We are witnesses to the destruction of the rule of law and the construction of a party dictatorship that has turned into a narco-state," the civil society groups said in the statement.

The statement's 36 signatories include the United Confederation of Workers of Honduras and Convergence against Continuism, an alliance of non-governmental and political organizations.

Tony Hernandez, 42, was found guilty in October 2019 on four counts -- including conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, possessing machine guns and making false statements.

During his trial in March, the US government successfully argued that the former Honduran congressman was a large-scale drug trafficker who smuggled more than 185 tons of cocaine into the United States.

Judge P. Kevin Castel also said that Tony Hernandez had acted as an intermediary in providing bribes to politicians, including his brother President Hernandez and the ruling National Party.

Earlier in March, a New York jury found Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, an alleged associate of President Hernandez, guilty of drug trafficking.

During his trial, US prosecutors said the Honduran leader had helped Fuentes smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States.

Hernandez, who has styled himself as a champion in the fight against drugs, has repeatedly denied all allegations of drug trafficking.