Thousands of protesters have marched through the capital of Honduras calling on President Juan Orlando Hernandez to resign after he admitted his 2013 presidential campaign took money from companies linked to a major corruption scandal.
Many of them bearing torches, demonstrators on Friday shouted “JOH out, JOH out”, using Hernandez’s initials, as they marched through the centre of Tegucigalpa to the local offices of the UN, where they demanded the creation of an anti-corruption commission.
Protest organisers said up to 20,000 took part in the demonstration, while a reporter from the Reuters news agency estimated about 8,000 were in attendance.
The protest came after Hernandez acknowledged that his election campaign received financing from business people linked to a social security embezzlement scandal that investigators allege involved millions of dollars misspent on marked-up goods and services.
Hernandez made the admission on Wednesday, but said he and his National Party had been unaware of the background of the money and hoped that an investigation would find those responsible.
He also denied any personal involvement in the scandal.
A new congressional report released on Friday said that business people linked to the social security corruption scandal gave $280,000 to Hernandez’s political party during his 2013 campaign.
“It’s intolerable, not just the corruption, but also the cynicism of Honduran politicians and the government,” one of the protesters, 35-year-old Emanuel Cruz, told Reuters as he took part in Friday’s rally.
Hernandez, a conservative, took office at the start of 2014 in what is one of the poorest nations in the Americas.
The Central American country of about 8.5 million has had the world’s highest murder rate for several years.