US sanctions former Paraguayan president for alleged Hezbollah ties
Paraguay's former president and current VP have been previously accused of being involved in systemic corruption
By News Desk - January 27 2023

Former President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes Jara (Photo Credit: EFE/Andrés Cristaldo)

The US government claims former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and current Vice President Hugo Velázquez have links with Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, as reported by The New Arab on 27 January.

The US Ambassador to Paraguay, Marc Ostfield, announced financial sanctions against the former head of state on 26 January.

“Mr. Cartes, as well as Mr. Velázquez, have links with members of Hezbollah, an entity that was designated by the United States as an entity that has committed acts of terrorism,” expressed the diplomat.

Ostfield claimed that reliable data from numerous US agencies supported the sanctions.

Both politicians are now blocked from using the US financial system and banned against transfers or transactions concerning their economic interests.

“Hezbollah has regularly held private events in Paraguay, where politicians made deals for favors, sold state contracts, and discussed law enforcement efforts in exchange for bribes,” he added.

They were both listed on a US corruption list last year, but the charges against them have increased. Additionally, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four businesses that Cartes owned or controlled.

The political landscape of Paraguay was rapidly shaken by the sanctions, with opposition members calling for the opening of investigations into Cartes, Velázquez, and all lawmakers who may have accepted bribes.

Meanwhile, Cartes’ lawyers denied the accusations. Pedro Ovelar, one of his defense attorneys, affirmed that the sanctions violated the former president’s rights and that his client “never had the right to a defense and never presented the alleged evidence” that supports these accusations. He also emphasized that his client does not have an open judicial process in the US.

Vice President Velásquez said in an interview with ABC Cardinal radio that he will not resign unless shown something “that makes him feel ashamed” and denied all accusations that he has links with Hezbollah.

US officials claim that Cartes routinely gave money to government employees in his presidential campaign and that this practice continued after he left office.

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