The State Department has barred Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velazquez from entering the United States due to his "involvement in significant corruption, including bribery of a public official and interference in public processes,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Vice President Velazquez announced his resignation from office and will no longer run for president in the next election. The United States also designated Yacyretá Bi-National Entity Legal Counsel Juan Carlos “Charly” Duarte for involvement in significant corruption.
“Duarte, a close personal and professional associate of Vice President Velazquez, offered a bribe to a Paraguayan public official in order to obstruct an investigation that threatened the Vice President and his financial interests,” explained Secretary Blinken in a statement. “Corrupt acts such as these also contribute to diminished confidence in the government and public perceptions of corruption and impunity within the office of the Paraguayan Vice President,” he added. Moreover, Duarte’s act of corruption abused and exploited his privileged public position within the Yacyretá Bi-National Entity, risking public confidence in one of Paraguay’s most vital economic assets. Duarte has since been removed from his post at Yacyretá, said Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez.
The U.S. Department of State also designated Velazquez’s immediate family members as ineligible to enter the United States, including Lourdes Maria Andrea Samaniego Gonzalez, Dionicio Adalberto Velazquez Gimenez, Sonya Rebeca Velazquez Escauriza, and Hugo Jose Velazquez Escauriza; and Duarte’s immediate family members including Ninfa Concepcion Vera Moreira and Tamara Duarte Martinez.
These designations reaffirm the commitment of the United States to combat corruption, which harms the public interest, hampers countries’ economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of their people.
The United States continues to stand with all Paraguayans in support of democracy and the rule of law and will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain, regardless of their position or political affiliation.