Juan Orlando Hernández

Juan Orlando Hernández

Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, often written as JOH,  is the fifty-fifth and current President of Honduras, assuming office January 27, 2014. He is a politician, member of the conservative National Party of Honduras, and former businessman who won the 2013 Honduran presidential election. He 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 has stated that he will seek re-election in 2017 in spite of the constitution only allowing a single-term as president. On December 15, 2016 the Tribunal Supremo Electoral decided, by two votes to one, to allow Hernández to stand in the pre-candidacy internal vote by the National Party of Honduras on March 12, 2017, in spite of arguments that such a decision was illegal. On March 12, 2017, Hernández won the National Party’s primary vote to allow him to represent his party during the 2017 Presidential election in November.
Juan Orlando Hernández
Juan Orlando Hernández, May 2015.jpg

Hernández, 2015.
55th President of Honduras
Assumed office
27 January 2014
Vice President Ricardo Álvarez
Preceded by Porfirio Lobo Sosa
President of the National Congress
In office
27 January 2010 – 13 June 2013
Preceded by José Alfredo Saavedra (Acting)
Succeeded by Mauricio Oliva
Personal details
Born Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado
28 October 1968 
Gracias, Honduras
Political party National Party
Spouse(s) Ana García Carías
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Honduras
State University of New York, Albany
Religion Roman Catholicism

Early life and career

The parents of Juan Orlando Hernández are Juan Hernández Villanueva and Elvira Alvarado Castillo, and he is the 15th of their 17 children. His siblings include Hilda Hernández and Juan Antonio Hernández, known as Tony and currently a deputy in the National Congress. A lawyer and notary, he graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras in social and legal sciences and studied legislation, and was President of the Association of Students 1988-1989. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the State University of New York. He was a businessman in coffee cultivation in his native Gracias and in the radio and television industries as well as being an owner of hotels. He gained notoriety in Honduras when Liberal leader Rafael Pineda Ponce described him as a “cipote malcriado” (poorly raised kid).

Juan Orlando Hernández, who represented Lempira Department since 2001, was elected head of a National Congress where the National Party had a comfortable majority, on January 21, 2010, and took office four days later.

Presidential campaign

In 2012 he fought a campaign against Ricardo Álvarez to try to become the 2013 presidential nationalist candidate, and won the internal election of November 2012 which Álvarez publicly denounced 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 3rd 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.

Hernandez said National Party accountants found that approximately $3 million lempira (about $140,000 USD) from companies with links to the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) scandal had entered its campaign coffers.

On March 12, 2017, Hernandez 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 Hernandez’s National Party, which also controls Congress, says a Supreme Court ruling last year allows him to stand for a new term. Hernandez’s opposition in the Liberal Party claims that the court does not have the power to make such decisions.


Corruption protests

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, Rede 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 congress 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.

Rosenthal Family Case

On October 7. 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, October 12, 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”.

Appointment of sister to Secretary of State

The US Central Intelligence Agency currently recognizes Hilda Hernández as “Secretaria de Estado de Comunicación y Estrategia” (Secretary of State of Communication and 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 does not hold any position of Secretary of State and does not receive a salary. On 2 January 2016 Hilda Hernandez left her position in the government.

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