Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado (Spanish pronunciation: [xwan oɾˈlando eɾˈnandes alβaˈɾaðo]), often written as JOH (born 28 October 1968), is a former businessman and the fifty-fifth and current president of Honduras, who assumed office on January 27, 2014, after winning the 2013 Honduran presidential election. He is a member of the conservative National Party of Honduras. 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 had stated that he would seek re-election in 2017, despite the constitution only allowing a single term as president. On December 15, 2016, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal 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, despite arguments that such a decision was illegal. On March 12, 2017, he won the National Party's primary vote to allow him to represent his party during the 2017 Honduran presidential election on November 26, 2017. Hernández was declared the winner by a narrow margin on December 16, after a reelection campaign widely criticized as fraudulent. He began his second presidential term on January 27, 2018.
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 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.
In 2012, he fought a campaign against Ricardo Álvarez to try to become the nationalist 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.
Hernandez said National Party accountants found that approximately L3 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. Opposition Liberal Party claims that the court does not have the power to make such decisions.
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 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.
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".
The US Central Intelligence Agency listed 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 did not hold any position of Secretary of State (but rather, "Advising Minister") and did not manage a budget. On 2 January 2016 Hilda Hernández left her position in the government. In December 2017, Hilda was killed in a helicopter crash near Lepaterique.
José Alfredo Saavedra
|President of the National Congress
Porfirio Lobo Sosa
|President of Honduras