The US extended the sanctions for corruption to the vice president of Paraguay and former president Cartes
The State Department explained that the move was taken because of its “involvement in systematic corruption that has undermined the country's democratic institutions”. The assets that they could have on US soil were frozen
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Hugo Velázquez and Horacio Cartes
The United States sanctioned this Thursday the vice president of Paraguay, Hugo Velázquez, and the country's former president Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who had already been accused of corruption by Washington in recent months.
The US State Department said in a statement that it had taken the decision to sanction them for their “involvement in systematic corruption that has undermined democratic institutions in Paraguay.”
Under these sanctions, by order of the US Treasury, the financial assets that the two individuals may have in the US are frozen and, in addition, they are directed against four companies controlled by Cartes: Tabacos USA Inc., Bebidas USA Inc., Dominicana Acquisition S.A., and Frigorifico Chajha S.A.E., detailed the State Department.
In July, the State Department had classified Cartes as “significantly corrupt”, and in August he did the same with Velázquez. Neither of them was charged or prosecuted, and they had only been the subject of complaints filed by a bicameral commission of Congress.
Horacio Cartes, President of Paraguay
On that occasion , Blinken noted the designation of Cartes “as ineligible to enter the United States due to his acts of corruption while in office.” “Former President Cartes obstructed a major international investigation into transnational crime to protect himself and his criminal associate from possible prosecution and political harm,” Washington denounced.
This time, The State Department described Cartes as one of the “richest individuals” in Paraguay and said that, during his administration and in the years that followed, he engaged in a “coordinated pattern” of corruption, including bribing officials and legislators
Specifically, for “more than a decade,” Cartes took advantage of his “illegitimately acquired wealth and influence to expand his political and economic power in Paraguayan institutions,” the statement said.
< p class="paragraph">Currently, Cartes is the leader of the ruling Colorado Party after defeating the current ruler, Mario Abdo Benítez, in power since 2018 in an internal process last year.
Regarding Velázquez, the State Department affirmed that he is “extensively” involved in corrupt practices, including influence peddling and bribery.
Washington went even further and assured that, in his position as Vice President, Velázquez “has worked to interfere in judicial proceedings in order to protect himself and other criminal associates from any investigation and has threatened those who might expose his criminal activities.”
Last year, the US government already included Cartes and Velázquez on its corrupt blacklist, so that both they and their close relatives were restricted from entering the United States.
When Washington made public the accusations against Velázquez, in August of last year, the vice president immediately resigned his presidential candidacy for the ruling Colorado Party and expressed his intention to leave the vice presidency, although he later decided to continue.
According to the State Department, today's sanctions show the United States' commitment to combating “systematic corruption” in Paraguay, strengthening its democratic institutions, and holding those who have committed crimes accountable to justice.
Both Cartes and Velázquez have denied the accusations against them.
(With information from EFE)