Honduras ex-first lady says presidential bid not meant to protect herself after husband’s conviction

Ana García de Hernández, Honduras' former first lady, speaks during an interview in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, March 14, 2024. García de Hernández says her decision to seek the presidency next year is about showing the world the injustice that was done to her recently convicted husband, not an attempt to protect herself from prosecution as some allege. (AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)

Ana García de Hernández, Honduras’ former first lady, speaks during an interview in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, March 14, 2024. García de Hernández says her decision to seek the presidency next year is about showing the world the injustice that was done to her recently convicted husband, not an attempt to protect herself from prosecution as some allege. (AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Former Honduras first lady Ana García de Hernández said Thursday that her decision to seek the presidency next year is about showing the world the injustice that was done to her recently convicted husband and defending Honduras’ reputation, not an attempt to protect herself from prosecution as some allege.

In an interview with The Associated Press in the same Tegucigalpa home where police arrested her husband Juan Orlando Hernández in February 2022, on a United States extradition request, she maintained her husband’s innocence and said the U.S. government had stained not only her family, but all Hondurans.

“For me it was painful to see that from another country they judged our nation because they tried an ex-president who was the head of Honduras,” she said. “They accused him of being a drug trafficker and Honduras of being a narco-state, when it is the complete opposite.”

“With the affront they have made to Honduras, I want to raise my voice,” she said, noting that Hondurans should feel indignant. “This (presidential run) is a platform from which I am going to do that.”

García de Hernández said that in conversations with Hernández since his conviction in a Manhattan courtroom last Friday, he told her “this is another test and we are going to continue exhausting appeals; the world saw the injustice that was committed and we have to remain standing.”

Hernández’s arrest came just three weeks after he left office and was followed by his extradition in April 2022. His two-week trial ended last week when he was convicted of charges that he conspired with drug traffickers and used Honduras’ military and police to help move tons of cocaine north to the United States.

García de Hernández announced Tuesday in a news conference that she would seek the nomination of the National party, her husband’s party and one of the main opposition parties. Honduras’ national elections are scheduled for Nov. 30, 2025.

She said many within the National party have expressed their support for her bid and that she has received many messages of support from Hondurans across the country. The decision was not taken in haste, she said, but after much consideration.

Some politicians immediately suggested her bid for the presidency was an attempt to protect herself from prosecution. García de Hernández has not been charged with any crimes.

García de Hernández did not rule out that prosecutors could pursue her, but she noted that her name never came up in the U.S. case and she has done nothing wrong, so there would be no basis for a case.

“There could be investigations, I imagine there will be, but here I am,” she said. “I’m not fleeing.”

Hernández’s brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández was sentenced to life in prison in the United States on drug and weapons charges in March 2021.

U.S. prosecutors called Hernández’s presidency “state-sponsored drug trafficking,” despite parts of the U.S. government praising Hernández over the years for his cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.

García de Hernández, herself a lawyer, spoke at length about a lack of hard evidence presented by U.S. prosecutors, who relied on testimony from drug traffickers she said were seeking revenge against her husband.

She noted meetings her husband had with Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden when he was vice president, as well as meetings he had inside CIA headquarters and with the U.S. Southern Command.

“Were they going to reveal these operations to a drug trafficker?” she asked, adding that her husband’s conviction sends a chilling message to other Latin American leaders.

“Who is going to want to fight against criminality if in the end they’re going to receive a life sentence?” she said.

____

Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

International Headlines

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed AP

Trending on NewsNation