The president of Honduras traveled to Washington, DC for a two-day official visit this week, and the mainstream US media completely ignored explosive charges leveled against the president’s brother, his political mentor, and other current and former Honduran elites.
During President Juan Orlando Hernández’s trip to Washington, he met with many of the top officials in the US government — which one would think would make this visit newsworthy in and of itself.
The president began his tour of Washington’s halls of power by meeting with several leading members of Congress, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Kay Granger, Norma Torres, Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker and Benjamin Cardin.
Hernández also met with other top US officials, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who himself made many trips to Honduras as head of the US Southern Command from 2012 to 2015.
The Honduran president also met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as well as the head of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, William Brownfield.
He even met with Vice President Mike Pence.
But most major US media outlets completely ignored Hernández’s visit.
The New York Times … nothing:
The Washington Post … nothing:
Reuters … nothing:
The Associated Press … nothing:
The Wall Street Journal did not cover Hernández’s visit, either. But a few days earlier the news outlet ran a story that should have made the Honduran president’s visit a fairly big news story, even in the midst of such a crowded news cycle. But the Journal’s headline (“Trafficker says he met with the Honduran president’s brother”) downplays the explosive nature of the actual statements made by the trafficker in question.
As we reported on March 20 at InSight Crime, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former head of the drug trafficking group known as the “Cachiros” who later became a DEA informant, testified in a federal court in New York that not only had he met with President Hernández’s brother Tony, but that Tony had asked Rivera Maradiaga for bribes in exchange for making payments to a company controlled by the Cachiros organization.
To state it plainly, Rivera Maradiaga alleged that the brother of the current president of Honduras solicited bribes from a known drug trafficker. And he made those allegations just days before the president met with some of the top officials in the US government. And the US mainstream media said absolutely nothing about it.
But there’s more to the story. Not only did Rivera Maradiaga accuse President Hernández’s brother of having ties to organized crime, he had also testified earlier this month that he repeatedly bribed Hernández’s presidential predecessor and political mentor, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo. (These allegations were made in testimony given at the trial of Pepe Lobo’s son, Fabio, who has pled guilty to drug trafficking charges in the New York court.)
It is remarkable, to say the least, that President Hernández could meet with so many of the most powerful people in the US government just days after these explosive allegations were made public, and that not one of those officials — and not a single major US media outlet — would raise the issue, even in passing.
(The Guardian provided some of the only mainstream coverage of Hernández’s visit, but that outlet’s article focused entirely on protesters heckling the president over his government’s handling of the investigation of the murder of prominent environmental activist Berta Cáceres.)
The lack of mainstream coverage of these allegations is particularly galling, considering the close relationship between the United States and Honduras, particularly with regard to security and law enforcement matters. It is disappointing that the US mainstream media has so utterly failed to inform the American people about significant developments that could affect public attitudes about the United States’ cooperation with and assistance to the Central American country — which is one of the most violent and corrupt in the region.