Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxwan oɾˈlando eɾˈnandes]; also known as JOH; born 28 October 1968) is the President of Honduras. He assumed office on 27 January 2014, after winning the 2013 Honduran general election. He began his second presidential term on 27 January 2018 which is set to end on 27 January 2022.
Juan Orlando Hernández
|55th President of Honduras|
|Assumed office |
27 January 2014
|Vice President||Ricardo Álvarez|
|Preceded by||Porfirio Lobo Sosa|
|President of the National Congress|
25 January 2010 – 25 January 2014
|Preceded by||José Alfredo Saavedra (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Mauricio Oliva|
Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado
28 October 1968
Gracias, Lempira, Honduras
|Political party||National Party|
|Residence||Palacio Jose Cecillio De Valle|
|Alma mater||National Autonomous University of Honduras|
State University of New York, Albany
Hernández was the president of the National Congress of Honduras between January 2010 and June 2013, when he was given permission by the Congress to absent himself from all responsibilities in the Congress to dedicate himself to his presidential campaign. He announced that he would seek re-election in 2017, after the Supreme Court allowed it in April 2015. On 15 December 2016, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal decided, by two votes to one, to allow Hernández to stand in the primary elections by the National Party of Honduras on 12 March 2017, despite arguments that such a decision was illegal. On 12 March 2017, he won the National Party's primary vote to allow him to represent his party during the 2017 Honduran general election on 26 November 2017. In the elections, Hernández was declared the winner by a narrow margin (0.5%), after a reelection campaign criticized as fraudulent, while the United States recognized Hernández as the official winner.
Early life and careerEdit
Hernández was born in Gracias, Honduras to Juan Hernández Villanueva and Elvira Alvarado Castillo, as the fifteenth of seventeen children. His siblings include Hilda Hernández (1966–2017) and Juan Antonio (Tony) Hernández, a former deputy now in U.S. federal custody on drug trafficking charges. He has a master's degree in public administration from the State University of New York at Albany. On 3 February 1990, he married Ana García Carías. This union has produced three children: Juan Orlando, Ana Daniela, and Isabela. He was a coffee-growing campesino in his native Gracias.
Juan Orlando Hernández, who represented Lempira Department since 2001, was elected President of the National Congress where the National Party had a comfortable majority, on 21 January 2010, and took office four days later.
In 2012, he fought a campaign against Ricardo Álvarez to try to become the National Party presidential candidate for 2013, and won the internal election of November 2012; Álvarez publicly denounced the result as fraudulent and demanded a "vote by vote" recount, which the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) rejected.
A poll conducted in May 2013 saw him in third place with a projected 18% of the vote. He began his presidential campaign in July 2013 in Intibucá and La Paz with a campaign entitled El Pueblo Propone (The People Propose in English). He campaigned for the military to police the streets, and claimed that his closest rival Xiomara Castro wanted to remove the Policía Militar (English: Military Police) which were already in Honduras' two main cities. He won the election, beating Castro by 250,000 votes.
Hernández said National Party accountants found that approximately L3 million lempira (about US$140,000) from companies with links to the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) scandal had entered its campaign coffers.
On 22 April 2015, the Supreme Court unanimously allowed presidential re-election. On 12 March 2017, Hernández became the National Party candidate by defeating his rival Roberto Castillo during the National Party primary. The Honduran Constitution allows revocation of citizenship of anyone who promotes changing the law to allow re-election, however Hernández's National Party, which also controls Congress, says a Supreme Court ruling last year allows him to stand for a new term. Opposition Liberal Party claims that the court does not have the power to make such decisions.
The President was re-elected in the 2017 presidential election after a vote deemed fraudulent by the opposition and international observers. The government declared a state of emergency. Some 30 demonstrators were killed and more than 800 arrested. According to the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, "many of them were transferred to military installations, where they were brutally beaten, insulted and sometimes tortured".
Hondurans both in and outside Honduras have protested against corruption in Honduras, allegedly by Hernández government as well as the judiciary, the military, the police and other public administration entities, demanding an end to what they say is the theft of funds and public money; for example, the embezzlement of the IHSS. In May 2015, Radio Globo discovered documents that allegedly showed that the Honduran National Party had received large amounts of cash from nonexistent companies through fraudulent contracts awarded by the IHSS when it was run by Mario Zelaya. The contracts were approved by the National Congress of Honduras when Hernández was its president and the party funding committee was headed by his sister, Hilda Hernández. Hernández has accepted that his election campaign received money from companies tied to the scandal, but denies any personal knowledge. By June 2015, Hernández had appointed a commission to investigate the cause of the corruption.
In 2017, the Drug Enforcement Agency in Miami arrested Hernández's brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, for drug trafficking and for using Honduran military personnel and equipment to ship cocaine to the United States on behalf of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.
Rosenthal family case of drug traffickingEdit
On 7 October 2015, the United States Department of Justice released a statement saying that Jaime Rosenthal, his son Yani Rosenthal and nephew Yankel Rosenthal, as well as seven other businesses, were labeled "specially designated narcotics traffickers" under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the first time this had been used against a bank outside the United States. As a result, the Honduran National Commission for Banks and Insurance (Comisión Nacional de Banca y Seguros, CNBS), forcibly liquidated the Banco Continental, property of the Rosenthal family, which was closed as of Monday, 12 October 2015, as well as other businesses and properties allegedly involved in money laundering. Hernández said that the financial system "is solid" and made it clear that this "is a problem between Banco Continental and the USA justice system".
His presidency was marked by an increase in the influence of conservative evangelical organizations and Opus Dei on government decisions. Compulsory prayer at the beginning of the day was instituted in schools and in certain institutions such as the police and the army. At the beginning of 2021, the total prohibition of abortion and same-sex marriage was included in the Constitution, making it very difficult to change the law later on.
Appointment of sister as Minister of Communications & Government StrategyEdit
The US Central Intelligence Agency listed Hilda Hernández as Minister of Communications & Government Strategy. When questioned by journalist Fernando del Rincón of CNN en Español over the appointment of his sister, Juan Orlando Hernández said that his sister did not hold any position of Secretary of State (but rather, "Advising Minister") and did not manage a budget. As corruption enquiries continued, on 2 January 2016 Hilda Hernández left her position in the government.
US drug trafficking investigationEdit
At the end of May 2019 US prosecutors unsealed some 2015 documents which revealed that Hernández was himself the subject of a major drug trafficking and money laundering investigation, alongside his sister Hilda and others.
On 21 June 2018, president Hernández ordered units of the Honduran army and the military police in the streets of the capital after renewed protests. According to a Hospital Escuela Universitario spokesperson, at least 17 people suffered bullet wounds as a result of violence in the protests, and two of them died at the hospital.
In April 2019, new anti-privatisation and anti-corruption protests erupted, lead by Tegucigalpa Autonomous University students and by health care workers. Tear gas was used against the protesters in demonstrations that took place in the center of Tegucigalpa.
Implicated in drug money conspiracyEdit
Hernández was identified as a co-conspirator in a drug trafficking and money laundering case against his brother, according to document filed in U.S. district court. Prosecutors say $1.5 million in drug proceeds was used to help elect him in 2013. Hernández responded saying he is foe of traffickers who are out for revenge against him.
A document released by a U.S. district court implicates Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in a conspiracy with his brother, Antonio "Tony" Hernández, and other high-level officials — including former President Porfirio Lobo Sosa — "to leverage drug trafficking to maintain and enhance their political power."
The 44-page document – which is related to the trial of Tony Hernández in New York's Southern District on drug trafficking and other charges – summarizes some of the key evidence collected by prosecutors against the defendant, who they accuse of being a “violent, multi-ton drug trafficker” who allegedly abused his political connections for personal and political gain and at least twice “helped arrange murders of drug trafficking rivals.”
After Tony Hernández's conviction on 18 October 2019, 7,000 supporters of President Juan Orlando Hernández, including members of the official National Party of Honduras, marched in Tegucigalpa. President Hernández criticized his brother's conviction as basado en testimonios de asesinos ("based on testimony from killers") and denied that Honduras has become a narco-state.
Fake Facebook supportersEdit
From June to July 2018, 78% of Hernández's Facebook posts received likes were not real people, artificially boosting Hernández' apparent popular support by a factor of 5. The Social Manager of Hernandez's official Pages of both Hernández and his late sister, who had served as communications minister, was directly controlling several hundreds of these fake entities. This campaign innovated by using Facebook's Organization Pages, configured with human names and photos, to add apparent support and to lure unaware readers.
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- Biography by CIDOB (in Spanish)