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U.S. House of Representatives at the Paraguayan Government Palace. Mario Abdo's Twitter.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives at the Paraguayan Government Palace. Photo: Twitter- Mario Abdo.

Paraguay to host top White House official amid allegations against Hugo Velázquez

Washington's ambassador in Asunción, Marc Ostfield, made the announcement of the meeting through his social networks.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 24, Mark A. Wells, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State for the Western Hemisphere, held a meeting in Paraguay to "discuss economic, commercial and security matters, for the benefit of both countries."

"During his stay in the country, the Deputy Assistant Secretary will hold meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of the Interior, with the National Secretariat of Intelligence and with the National Secretariat of Administration of Seized and Confiscated Assets," the Ostfield said.

In addition, he said that Wells will have a meeting with members of the Paraguayan Congress and the private sector. This is to strengthen the long-standing relationship of friendship and cooperation between the nations.

The visit comes just after the U.S. declared Paraguayan Vice President Hugo Velázquez as "significantly corrupt."

Earlier, Cecilia Perez, Security Affairs Advisor Minister for the President of Paraguay, said that Wells cannot bring extradition orders with him, because "that would be done through the Department of Justice and not through the Department of State."

The Paraguayan vice president is accused of having offered a bribe of more than $1 million to a public official, as well as of hindering an investigation against him, in addition to being linked to terrorism and undermining the security of the United States.

Although Velazquez had stated that he would leave his post, he ruled it out a few days later, alleging that he was not aware that the Attorney General's Office had opened any case.

Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez confirmed the "opening of a criminal case" on Tuesday, Aug. 23, as a result of the U.S. accusations, since "facts that could be of criminal relevance" were exposed. The Specialized Unit of Economic Crimes and Anticorruption of the Prosecutor's Office will be in charge of the investigations.

The President of Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez, referred to the case this week, and said that "the right thing to do" would be for Velázquez to resign. 

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