United States imposes travel ban on former Paraguay President Horacio Cartes over corruption

former Paraguay president Horacio Cartes

Former Paraguay president Horacio Cartes (File image)

Photo : AP

Washington: The United States on Friday blacklisted Paraguay’s former president Horacio Cartes for his alleged involvement in corruption. The US State Department imposed a travel ban against Cartes, accusing him of corruption and links to “terrorist” groups, reported AFP. However, the former Paraguay leader denied the allegations as “unfair and unfounded”.

Cartes and his three adult children were declared ineligible to travel to the United States. As per the US State Department, Cartes “obstructed a major international investigation into the transnational crime. Notably, Brazil has sought the extradition of the former president in a money laundering scandal.

“These actions undermined the stability of Paraguay’s democratic institutions by contributing to public perception of corruption and impunity within the office of the Paraguayan president,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken as quoted by AFP.

Blinken further added that these actions enabled and perpetuated Cartes’ recently documented involvement with foreign terrorist organisations. Notably, Paraguay’s Vice President Hugo Velazquez also accused the former leader of ties with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The group has allegedly profited from the smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes through Paraguay and its porous three-way frontier with Argentina and Brazil. Last month, Argentina grounded an airplane with Venezuelan and Iranian crew after Paraguayan intelligence accused a passenger of having links with Iran’s elite Quds Force, which backs Hezbollah. However, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez later called it a false allegation.

In a statement, Cartes said that he was ready to prove his innocence. The businessman-turned-politician led the South American nation from 2013 to 2018. He runs a business that included tobacco and soccer teams.