Paraguay VP blacklisted by US, set to resign
August 15, 2022
Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velázquez is set to resign from his post following an accusation of “significant corruption” by the US Department of State, reports Ultima Hora. He was informed of his inclusion on the US blacklist by Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez three minutes before the US released its official announcement.
Statements from the US ambassador to Paraguay and Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined an incident in which a bribe was offered to a Paraguayan public official to “obstruct an investigation that threatened the Vice President and his financial interests,” says Reuters. The bribe, offered by the vice president’s associate, Juan Carlos Duarte, was over $1 million USD. The vice president allegedly had knowledge of the situation, although he has denied the allegations. The families of both Velázquez and Duarte were also blacklisted by the US.
Velázquez was among the frontrunners for Paraguay’s 2023 presidential elections, according to the Latin America Risk Report. Now, he will withdraw his candidacy for the presidency.
Congressman Gerardo Milman asked relevant Argentine authorities to investigate a Turkish Airlines flight that landed in Buenos Aires last night following a tip that the flight’s airline crew included a member of the Iranian Quds Force, the paramilitary branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reports La Nación. Another suspected member of the Quds Force and former member of the IRGC, Gholamrez Ghasemi, is currently detained in Buenos Aires.
Thousands of Jewish refugees were saved by “tin baron” Moritz “Mauricio” Hochschild and given refuge in Bolivia during World War 2, writes the Guardian. His philanthropic endeavors, at odds with his ruthless business persona, were not widely known until recently.
New testimony reveals that the murders of indigenous rights defender Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips in the Amazon earlier this year, as well as that of Funai official Maxciel Pereira dos Santos in 2019, were connected to illegal fishing, reports Folha.
Facebook has failed to detect blatant misinformation related to Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, including posts “promoting the wrong election date, incorrect voting methods and questioning the integrity of the election — including Brazil’s electronic voting system,” notes AP.
Chile’s northern Tarapacá region, bordering Bolivia, has seen homicide rates skyrocket over the last two years. InSight Crime notes that the region has long been used for drug trafficking, but has recently also become a hub for arms smuggling and for migrant exploitation, most notably by the Tren de Aragua.
The Petro administration seeks to restart peace talks with the ELN guerrilla group, with members of the administration traveling to Cuba for talks. Multiple past attempts to strike an accord with the group have failed. (Reuters, InSight Crime)
“Amid multiple corruption and misconduct probes muddling his first three months in office, President Rodrigo Chaves has lashed out at the press. In July authorities shuttered a business financing the operations of leading newspaper La Nación, a move marking a sharp escalation in attacks against press freedom in a country that has for years provided safe haven for journalists fleeing neighboring Nicaragua,” reports El Faro.
An explosion in Guayaquil yesterday killed 5 and injured 26, with the Lass administration blaming the event on organized crime and claiming it was a “declaration of war” against the government, reports the BBC.
Guatemalan citizens took to the streets last Thursday to protest government corruption, the high cost of living, and recent attacks on the media and freedom of expression, writes AP News.
Guatemalan authorities have recently uncovered and dismantled multiple human and sex trafficking rings in the country. “Over the past three years, authorities have recorded nearly 1,500 human trafficking victims of primarily sexual exploitation, nearly two-thirds of whom are women and young girls,” reports InSight Crime. However, there is a reported lack of trust to denounce such crimes to authorities.
Murders and attacks across two of Mexico’s regions this week have proven the capacity of gangs to encourage seemingly random attacks at will, reports LA Times. Mexican troops were sent to the border at Ciudad Juárez as a deterrent following the attacks.
With a lack of the required congressional support, AMLO is considering regulatory changes or executive orders to remove civilian control from the military, says AP News.
As President Pedro Castillo struggles with corruption investigations and impeachment attempts, Peru’s political crisis is deepening, says Bloomberg. “The prime minister (has called) for people to defend the government in the street and lawmakers (have exchanged) shoves in congress.”
Colombia and Venezuela have nominated ambassadors to each other’s countries for the first time following a severing of diplomatic ties in 2019, reports Al Jazeera. The two countries are making the effort to normalize relations.
As Colombia seeks to normalize ties with Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has also held informal bilateral talks with the new Colombian government, informs Reuters.
The protagonists of Hamster and Gretel, Disney Channel’s newest animated show, form part of a Venezuelan-American family, the first animated representation of Venezuelans in US media, according to Caracas Chronicles.