Bloomberg Línea — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday that the US government has designated Paraguay’s Vice President Hugo Velázquez and his associate Juan Carlos Duarte as “ineligible for entry to the US for involvement in significant corruption”.
“We stand committed to supporting democracy and promoting accountability for corrupt officials,” Blinked added in a tweet.
Following Blinken’s announcement, Velázquez announced he was stepping down from the role, and said he would renounce his aspirations to become the South American country’s president as a candidate for the Colorado Party.
The US indictment states that Velázquez participated in acts of corruption including bribery of a public official and interference in public processes.
Velázquez’s resignation from the pre-candidacy would be presented Friday, while his resignation from the post of vice president would be presented next week, in order to “leave the house in order”, he said in a conversation with news outlet ABC Cardinal.
In addition, the US State Department added that Velázquez’s wife, Lourdes Samaniego, and their children, are also included in the designation as ineligible for entry to the US. Samaniego is an assistant prosecutor.
“I have not yet talked to her [Samaniego], but I wanted her to resign from the Public Prosecutor’s Office to accompany me in the campaign (...) I do not have the clearest idea [about the designation] because I am not under investigation, I have absolutely no idea of the accusation”, Velázquez told ABC in a telephone conversation after Blinken’s announcement.
Juan Carlos Duarte, Velázquez’s associate and a former prosecutor, is also named in the accusation, which specifies that Duarte, at the request of the vice-president, bribed a public official with more than $1 million to obstruct an investigation that threatened Velázquez and his financial interests.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Paraguay,Marc Ostfield said he will continue to work with President Mario Abdo Benítez and his government to fight corruption and impunity, while promoting economic growth in both countries.