Protesters set fire to U.S. Embassy in Honduras

June 1, 2019
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Protesters torched the access gate to the U.S. Embassy in the Honduran capital on Friday during a second day of major protests against President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Honduras was hit by a fresh round of violent demonstrations Friday as protesters clashed with security forces a day after it emerged that President Juan Orlando Hernandez had been investigated for drug trafficking by U.S. authorities.

Local television reports showed images and video of anti-government protesters blocking highways and throwing stones at anti-riot police, who fired teargas back.

The attack came on the second day of protests over decrees by Hernandez that his critics argue will lead to the privatization of public services.

The demonstrators were pushed toward the embassy after being dispersed from a nearby commercial zone by police nearby, though it was not immediately clear why they attacked the building.

The protesters chanted “American trash, American trash” outside the embassy, which was not being guarded at the time.

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A court filing earlier this week showed that Hernandez had been investigated by U.S. authorities as part of a drug trafficking and money laundering probe linked to his brother. The president has not been charged with any crime.

Hernandez has faced stiff opposition in Honduras since he claimed a second term in a highly divisive election at the end of 2017 which was heavily criticized by international observers and which his opponents say he stole.

Hernandez, a conservative ally of the U.S. government, rode out protests against his re-election after he was recognized as the victor by countries including the United States.

The main airport in the capital was temporarily closed as the unrest spread. One group — it was unclear whether they were pro or anti-government — set fire to a pile of tires in an entrance to the U.S. Embassy.

Teachers and medical workers began striking Thursday, demanding that the government repeal decrees that seek to restructure the public education and health sectors. Workers say the reforms will lead to privatization and mass layoffs.

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