Asuncion, 12 Aug. The United States reported this Friday that it included the Vice President of Paraguay, Hugo Velázquez, on its list of corrupt, who rejected these accusations and immediately announced that he will resign from office and his presidential candidacy for the ruling Colorado Party.
The legal adviser of the Yacyretá binational entity (EBY), Juan Carlos Duarte, considered by the US to be a “close personal and professional collaborator” of the Paraguayan vice president, was also accused of corruption.
The decision, which shook local politics, was announced by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in a statement released in Washington and during a press conference in the Paraguayan capital by the US ambassador in Asunción, Marc Ostfield.
Blinken reported on his Twitter account that Velázquez and Duarte are “ineligible to enter the United States for being involved in significant corruption.”
Their families will also be denied entry to that country and will not be able to obtain visas.
Ostfield claimed that Duarte, at Velázquez’s request, “offered a bribe of more than a million dollars” to a public official, with the alleged intention of “obstructing an investigation that threatened the vice president and his financial interests.”
“The corrupt acts of Velázquez and Duarte undermine the confidence of the Paraguayan people in the stability of Paraguay’s democratic institutions,” he warned.
According to the diplomat, acts of corruption include “offering a bribe to a public official and interference in public proceedings.”
The ambassador framed the appointments within a “comprehensive strategy to combat corruption” and expressed his country’s commitment to continue “working closely” with the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benítez.
In response to the US announcement, Velázquez stated that he will present his resignation to Congress next week as Vice President.
“Really, for me it fell like a bucket of cold water,” the official told Radio Monumental, and assured that he will come out as an “ordinary citizen” to defend himself from “an injustice.”
In turn, he indicated to the ABC Cardinal station that he does not have “the faintest idea” about that accusation, and denied being investigated.
The vice president announced that he will also abandon the race in the internal ones of the ruling party, which will elect its presidential duo on December 18.
Velázquez presented his presidential candidacy last June on behalf of the Republican Force, a faction that he registered last January within the Colorado Party.
For his part, Abdo Benítez thanked his “friend” and “partner” Velázquez for the gesture, after admitting that his continuity “was already unacceptable.”
“I congratulate him for his mature attitude in prioritizing the interests and building credibility of our nation,” Abdo Benítez told reporters from the department of Itapúa (south).
The head of state, who admitted that Washington’s announcement surprised “everyone”, also ordered the “immediate” dismissal of Duarte from Yacyretá’s legal department.
On July 22, the US also accused former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2008-2012) of corrupt acts. EFE