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Paraguayan Vice-President Hugo Adalberto Velázquez Moreno will step down from his post after the US blacklisted him for alleged corruption, a move that further erodes trust in the government of the South American nation, the Washington Post reported.
US officials unveiled a corruption list Friday that included Velázquez and a close associate of the vice-president, Juan Carlos ‘Charly’ Duarte Martínez. The vice-president’s designation stems from allegations that he, among other things, offered a bribe to a public official and interfered in public proceedings.
The designation means that Velázquez, Duarte and their immediate family members are barred from entering the US.
The US decision shook the landlocked nation amid an electoral campaign ahead of next year’s elections. Following the designation, Velázquez said he is withdrawing his candidacy for president and plans to resign as vice-president.
He added that he will work to clear his name.
Meanwhile, President Mario Abdo Benítez said the blacklisting “surprised all of us.”
Velázquez’s blacklisting comes a few months after the murder of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci by hit men in Colombia. Colombian authorities said the killing of Pecci, who was known for pursuing organized crime in the region, was connected to international drug trafficking groups.
Analysts said the blacklisting and Pecci’s murder confirmed suspicions among Paraguayans that “the justice system is infiltrated by corruption at the very highest levels.”