“We made history together.” With these words, Juan Orlando Hernández said goodbye to the Honduran presidency at the end of January after eight years.

The actual story is different and should follow.

A few weeks after leaving office, Hernández found himself in a nightmare.

The police surrounded his house and a short time later he was taken away in handcuffs.

Tjerk Bruhwiller

Correspondent for Latin America based in São Paulo.

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On Thursday evening, he was flown to New York by a DEA plane, where he is charged with drug trafficking, among other things.

According to US Attorney Damian Williams, Hernández "worked with some of the most prolific drug traffickers in the world" who trafficked thousands of tons of cocaine in a brutal and corrupt manner.

The head of the DEA, Anne Milgram, even called Hernández "a central figure" in one of the world's largest organizations in the cocaine trade.

The allegations against Hernández are based on a lawsuit against his younger brother Tony.

Tony Hernández was also once a politician and as such a member of the Honduran Congress.

Today Tony is in prison.

A court sentenced him to life imprisonment last year for trafficking 185 tons of cocaine.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged that notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán personally handed the younger Hernández $1 million and told him to pass the money on to his older brother to help fund his election campaign.

Successor facing a challenge

Juan Orlando Hernández is accused of having accepted millions of dollars in bribes during his eight-year tenure to protect drug traffickers from investigation, arrest and extradition.

With his help, deliveries of several tons of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela were smuggled via Honduras to the United States.

Hernández rejects the allegations and sees himself as a victim of a conspiracy of angry drug dealers.

As president, Hernández had always had strong support from Washington.

Apparently the White House was misinformed.

Juan Cruz, Latin America's top official from 2017 to 2019, said in an interview that the State Department had "no idea" that Hernández was a suspected drug dealer.

Observers suspect that Hernández also enjoyed Washington's support because he was supposed to curb migration from Central America.

In Honduras, however, Hernández was mistrusted.

In last year's elections, they clearly opted for the left-wing Xiomara Castro.

It is questionable whether it can counter corruption and drug trafficking.

Their vice president, Salvador Nasralla, said drug traffickers are in the country's institutional structures, in the ministries, in Congress, in the Supreme Court.

"Honduras is a living example of a narco-state."