Paraguayan President picks Velázquez’s replacement as candidate, but the story is not finished

Paraguayan President picks Velázquez’s replacement as candidate, but the story is not finished

Monday, August 15th 2022 – 21:34 UTC

Registration for new candidacies within the Colorado Party has already closed, so it is not clear whether Wiens will be allowed to run

Paraguay’s ruling Fuerza Republicana faction from within the Colorado Party has chosen Public Works Minister and former evangelical Pastor Arnoldo Wiens as the future presidential candidate following Vice President Hugo Velázquez’s announcement that he would resign his current job and back down from the 2023 electoral race.

Velázquez’s decision came after he was declared Friday as “significantly corrupt” by the United States, which had also been applied to former President Horacio Cartés earlier this month.

The ticket selected by incumbent President Mario Abdo Benítez will face in the primaries those chosen by Cartés’ Honor Colorado faction.

“We are stronger than ever”, said Wiens as his pre-candidacy was made official in Asuncion. “Strengthened because the adversities that arise make that we have to show, as Paraguayans, as Colorados, and as members of a great team, who we really are,” he added.

Wiens valued the “gesture of the comrade, friend, vice-president” Velázquez to resign immediately and admitted that “many believed that this news” 48 hours ago was going to “destroy” his party faction. President Abdo Benítez, leader of Fuerza Republicana, celebrated the candidacy of his current Minister of Public Works “with much hope” and “all my support to continue working for our beloved country.”

Wiens took office as Minister of Public Works and Communications in August 2018. He holds a PhD in theology and is also a former Senator. He has a longstanding career in Biblical teachings.

However, Wiens’ pre-candidacy was announced after the time for new entries from within the Colorado Party has already closed. Party authorities will now have to rule on the matter. Honor Colorado will oppose the initiative. Juan Manuel Brunetti, who was to run for the Vice Presidency behind Velázquez will also second Wiens.

The primaries are scheduled for December 18 and the general elections are to be held in April next year.

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