Paraguay vice-president stays after corruption charges | Politics News

Hugo Velazquez is reversing his decision to step down after the United States accused him last week of being involved in “significant” corruption.

Paraguay’s vice president canceled a resignation plan this week, saying he would not give up his post until he had details of the US corruption charges against him.

Hugo Velazquez told reporters on Thursday that he originally offered to resign last week because he “assumed” there was a national investigation against him.

But on Wednesday, he received a notice from Paraguay’s prosecutor’s office saying “there are no charges against me,” Velazquez said.

“I had mentioned in my conversation with you that I was going to resign from my position … in order to go and defend myself as an ordinary citizen,” Velazquez told a local radio station.

“Yesterday afternoon, I learned that the public prosecutor had decided to ask the United States Embassy for the facts concerning the complaint against me. Today, I have no platform to defend myself because there is no investigation in the United States either,” he added.

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said an associate of Velazquez had offered a bribe to a Paraguayan public official to “obstruct an investigation that threatened the vice president and his financial interests”. .

Blinken said Velazquez would not be allowed to enter the United States because of his “involvement in significant corruption, including bribery of a public official and interference in public process.”

“Acts of corruption such as these also contribute to diminished trust in the government and to the public perception of corruption and impunity within the office of the Paraguayan vice president,” the senior diplomat said. American in a press release.

The accusation sparked a political earthquake in Paraguay, where Velazquez was set to be the government’s presidential nominee in the Colorado Conservative Party primary in December.

Velazquez, who has denied any wrongdoing, nevertheless renounced his candidacy and said he would step down as vice president this week.

But while the 54-year-old said on Thursday he would not step down as vice president now, he also said in a statement that his decision not to run for president was “immutable”.

In July, the United States also announced the banning of former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, accusing the businessman-turned-politician of corruption and links to “terrorist” groups.

Cartes’ political movement will face Velazquez’s in the primaries and the winner will be a candidate in the legislative elections scheduled for April 2023. Cartes’ candidate, former minister Santiago Pena, is still in the running.

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