Paraguay's vice president resigns amid corruption allegations

Hugo Velazquez announces resignation ahead of 2023 presidential election.

Paraguay's vice president resigns amid corruption allegations

Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velazquez announced Friday that he will resign following corruption allegations made by the US.

Velazquez had been hoping to stand for elections during next year's presidential election for the ruling Colorado Party until he was sanctioned.

"The decision to step aside is to avoid affecting the environment of the President of the Republic (Mario Abdo Benítez) or the Colorado Party," Velazquez told a local radio station.

"I'm going to retire from politics. It was the last stage of my career," he added.

US Ambassador to Paraguay Marc Ostfield said at a news conference Friday that Velazquez was placed on a corruption list for allegedly offering bribes to a public official and intervening in public processes.

He has refuted the allegations, insisting he was innocent and did not know what Ostfield was talking about.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the move bars Velazquez from entering that country following his alleged "involvement in significant corruption, including bribery of a public official and interference in public processes."

Several of Velazquez’s family members also received sanctions, as well as Juan Carlos Duarte, a friend and legal adviser to the company operating the Yacyreta Dam.

Blinken said the sanctions on Duarte were for allegedly offering a bribe to a "Paraguayan public official in order to obstruct an investigation that threatened the vice president and his financial interests."

Blinken wrote on Twitter that "today the @StateDept designated Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velazquez and associate Juan Carlos Duarte ineligible for entry to the U.S. for involvement in significant corruption. We stand committed to supporting democracy and promoting accountability for corrupt officials."

Velazquez pledged to resign next week to defend against the allegations.