TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his brother Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, who was found guilty in the US of drug trafficking, will be burned in effigy this week in the capital city of Tegucigalpa to bid farewell to 2019 and usher in 2020.
A straw figure of the president is the primary image prepared by employees of an upholstery workshop in southern Tegucigalpa this year for their yearly bonfire on the last night of 2019 as part of a popular tradition in the Central American country.
“Over these many years we’ve been making these presidential (effigies) to protest in a healthy way without hurting anyone,” Luis Lagos, one of the owners of the workshop, told EFE, noting that his workers have been creating these images each year for the past 18 years.
Two other figures – Tony Hernandez, who was convicted in a US court in October of drug trafficking, and that of an airplane similar to the one used by President Hernandez – will also be burned using gasoline in the capital’s southern Germania district.
Lagos said that making the straw figures is one way of “protesting” and showing that “we’re really upset by all the ... negative things that the presidents can easily foment in the country,” including the high cost of electricity and fuel.
The artisans prepared the image of “JOH” (Juan Orlando Hernandez) riding on the airplane that, Lagos said, represents the presidential jet and, at the same time, the planes that land in Honduras loaded with illegal drugs and those that carry Hondurans extradited from the US.
Lagos said that all 14 of the workshop’s employees helped prepare the figures that will be burned and the hardest part was to make the faces of the people they represent, as well as the structure of the plane.
The president’s image is dressed in a coat and tie, while his brother is wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.
Lagos said that the images burned each year represent public officials because “they have favored themselves by enriching themselves and doing things to benefit themselves and not the people.”
He urged the Honduran leader to “be closer to the people and to take better care of them,” as well as to create more jobs.
Among the materials used to make the images – a project that was launched in November – are wood, foam rubber, paint, paper and PVC tubes.
Elsewhere in Tegucigalpa, Juan Alberto Almendares prepared another image also representing Tony Hernandez and a helicopter that local media said was allegedly presented to him by drug cartels in 2014.
Almendares told EFE that the president’s brother, who was arrested in Miami in November 2018, will be burned in effigy to express in a resounding way the people’s rejection of him on the basis of the charges on which he was convicted in the US.
Tony Hernandez was charged with exporting drugs to the US, possessing machineguns and destructive devices and lying to federal authorities, all of which he denied.
Although in the past, effigy figures that were burned had been stuffed with fireworks, this year the authorities prohibited the sale of gunpowder in Tegucigalpa and in the city of San Pedro Sula with an eye toward preventing people, especially children, from being burned at yearend celebrations.