Vice President Hugo Velazquez of Paraguay backpedaled on his previous promise of resignation, saying this Thursday that he won’t leave his post “until receiving further details” about U.S. corruption investigations that originally led him to announce his plans to leave the government.
As The Brazilian Report wrote on Monday, the U.S. Department of State designated Mr. Velazquez for “significant corruption,” alongside several other Latin American officials. The accusation was confirmed by the U.S embassy in Asunción and concerns a possible million-dollar bribe scheme.
Though Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benítez did not immediately accept the resignation, leaving Mr. Velazquez’s situation on hold during the week, the same is not true for the VP’s intention to withdraw his presidential candidacy for the ruling Colorado Party in 2023. According to Mr. Velazquez, his decision to withdraw from the coming election is irreversible.
In the meantime, President Benítez already backed former Public Works and Communications Minister Arnoldo Wiens to be his possible successor. Mr. Wiens resigned two days ago to become an official candidate.
The former evangelical pastor will challenge economist Santiago Peña in the party’s December primaries. Mr. Peña, in turn, is endorsed by former President Horacio Cartes, who belongs to the Colorado Party but is amid an internal dispute with Mr. Benítez. Mr. Cartes, a bank owner and cigarette industry tycoon, is himself accused of corruption and obstructing investigations by the U.S.