Narco-State: U.S.-Backed Fmr. Honduran Pres. Juan Orlando Hernández on Trial in NY for Drug Trafficking

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Federal prosecutors in New York have rested their case against former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who is accused of turning the Central American country into a narco-state. Hernández is on trial for cocaine trafficking and weapons charges and is the first former head of state to stand trial in the United States since Panamanian dictator and U.S. ally Manuel Noriega was also tried on drug charges after a U.S.-led ouster. Prosecutors accuse Hernández, a longtime U.S. ally accused of human rights violations throughout his presidency, of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection and turning Honduras into a drug trafficking narco-state. If convicted, Hernández could join his brother Juan Antonio in serving a life sentence in the U.S. We speak to two writers who have been attending the trial in New York: historian Dana Frank and author and Honduran screenwriter Oscar Estrada. “There’s a narrative here that … the Honduran people can’t govern themselves, and then suddenly the U.S. is coming in and heroically imposing the rule of law,” says Frank about U.S. public perception of the trial. However, she continues, “It’s the opposite. It’s the United States that helped destroy the criminal justice system in Honduras.”

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