On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon launched a invoice that might search to isolate Hernández, who lately has leaned closely on his assist inside the U.S. authorities when going through home opposition and multiplying allegations of connections to drug traffickers by U.S. prosecutors.
“America can’t stay silent within the face of deeply alarming corruption and human rights abuses being dedicated on the highest ranges of the Honduran authorities,” Merkley stated in a press release. “A failure to carry Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, nationwide officers, and members of the police and army accountable for these crimes will gas widespread poverty and violence and pressure extra households to flee their communities in the hunt for security.”
Merkley’s invoice, “Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021,” calls on Biden to impose sanctions on Hernández and “decide whether or not he’s a specifically designated narcotics trafficker.” The laws additionally has the backing of Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts amongst others.
Such a designation can be an amazing reversal of fortunes for a president who incessantly cites Honduras’ energetic participation within the U.S. battle on medication each time U.S. prosecutors in New York recommend his political rise was funded partly by drug traffickers. He has not been charged.
The invoice additionally seeks to ban the export of protection objects comparable to tear gasoline, pepper spray and rubber bullets that Honduran safety forces have deployed lately in opposition to protesters. The U.S. authorities would actively oppose loans to Honduras’ safety forces from multilateral improvement banks.
It calls on the Honduran authorities to speak to the United Nations about establishing an anti-corruption mission within the fashion of 1 that had success in Guatemala. Below Hernández, a mission backed by the Group of American States was not renewed after it started to implicate quite a few federal lawmakers in corruption scandals.
Earlier this month, Hernández once more denied any connection to drug trafficking after U.S. prosecutors filed paperwork in an upcoming drug trafficker’s trial suggesting the president was underneath investigation. Hernández’s brother Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández was convicted in New York of a drug conspiracy in 2019.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke together with his Honduran counterpart about cooperation between the 2 international locations’ governments.
Below the administration of President Donald Trump, immigration overshadowed the whole lot else within the relationship. Biden has spoken about improvement assist for so-called Northern Triangle international locations to deal with the basis causes of migration, however Blinken additionally included “corruption and lack of respect for human rights” as causes of migration, in keeping with a State Division abstract of the decision.
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