Paraguay’s VP resigns and voids presidential bid amid corruption charges

paraguay vice president
Vice President Hugo Velázquez in campaign. Photo: Twitter/@HVelazquezPy

Vice President Hugo Velázquez of Paraguay said Friday he will resign from his post after being designated by the U.S. for “significant corruption” — less than a month after Paraguay’s former President Horacio Cartes was also blacklisted by the U.S. for corruption.

Mr. Velázquez also withdrew his bid for the country’s 2023 presidential elections. President Mario Abdo Benítez, who is yet to officially accept his VP’s resignation, said failure to withdraw the candidacy would be “unacceptable.”

Mr. Velázquez was the favorite name to run representing the ruling Colorado Party. He said he had decided to abandon his presidential aspirations to focus on “defending himself.”

According to the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay Marc Ostfield, who called a press conference at the embassy in the capital Asunción on Friday night, Mr. Velázquez is accused of offering a USD 1 million bribe to curb an investigation that threatened him. 

That day the U.S. Department of State announced sanctions against the VP and Juan Carlos “Charly” Duarte, an official at the Yacyretá Binational Dam that Paraguay manages with Argentina, and the presumed facilitator of Mr. Velázquez’s bribery scheme. Mr. Duarte has also left his job following the corruption allegations.

“We stand committed to supporting democracy and promoting accountability for corrupt officials,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted.