Paraguay vice president backtracks, says he won’t resign

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BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Paraguay Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno said Thursday he will not resign from his post, backtracking on a vow he made last week shortly after he was included on a U.S. corruption list for his alleged involvement in offering bribes to a public official.

“I have decided not to resign from the vice presidency of the republic because, just like any Paraguayan citizen, I’m protected by the constitutional right to due process and fundamentally the presumption of innocence,” Velázquez said in a statement published on his social media accounts.

Velázquez is still stepping down from the presidential contest. The number two in President Mario Abdo Benítez’s administration had been seen as a leading contender to become a presidential candidate for the Colorado Party in next year’s elections until his inclusion on the U.S. list.

Velázquez said he had decided not to resign after he received confirmation from the Attorney General’s Office that he was not under investigation in Paraguay. He also has not received any information that would indicate he is under investigation in the United States.

Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Marc Ostfield said Velázquez was included in the list after “credible information” showed the vice president had ordered a bribe of more than $1 million be offered to a public official.

This offering of a bribe was “consistent with an apparent pattern of corrupt activity” and in this case it was carried out to “obstruct an investigation that threatened the vice president and his financial interests,” Ostfield said.

Vélazquez denied any wrongdoing.

The vice president said Abdo supported his decision not to resign. Last week, Abdo had congratulated Velázquez for his quick decision to step down following the accusations.

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