Power corrupts

US accuses the Paraguayan Congressman, Ulises Quintana, of corruption.

On 7 April, the US State Department designated Ulises Quintana, a Paraguayan member of the Congress, the lower house of Paraguay, for engaging in significant corruption. US authorities argue that, while in office, Quintana eased transnational crimes operations, undermining the rule of law, and obstructed Paraguay’s public institutions.

Quintana is a prominent member of the Concordia Colorada faction within the ruling Colorado Party. The movement is currently under control of former President Horacio Cartes, who specifically designated Quintana to run for mayor of Ciudad del Este, the second largest city in the country, which is located close to the triple border with Argentina and Brazil and holds tax-free status. Following the US State Department announcement, the Colorado Party rejected starting an investigation into Quintana, arguing that local authorities had already investigated the matter and claiming that Quintana was innocent until proven guilty.

A Paraguayan political analyst commented, “Quintana is a toxic figure in the Paraguayan political scene but, unfortunately, we are growing accustomed to these characters. How can someone who has spent two years in prison and who is still being investigated by the prosecution for major crimes such as drug trafficking be a candidate for mayor of a city considered one of the drug-trafficking hotspots in the country?”

Quintana is being investigated by the Public Prosecutor in Paraguay for money laundering, drug trafficking and criminal organisation as part of the “Berilo Case”. Quintana was a focus of the investigation for allegedly facilitating drug trafficking deals carried out by the local drug dealer Reinaldo Javier “Cucho” Cabañas. Authorities considered that Quintana granted judicial protection to Cabañas in return for a campaign donation.

In connection to the investigations, Quintana was held in custody twice between September 2018 and July 2019 on the first occasion and, from November 2019 and October 2020 on the second. In an unprecedented decision, the judiciary allowed Quintana to maintain his congressional seat.

An investigative journalist in Paraguay thinks Quintana is just a puppet, “You should always follow the money. Quintana is just a middleman who gained enough popularity to run for an important seat, he is neither the source of the money, nor the person moving the strings in Paraguayan politics.” A Spanish logistics expert living in Paraguay agrees, “Quintana is just one of these lesser politicians controlled by Cartes, which funnily enough entered the Colorado Party as a member of President Benítez’s political faction.”

“Quintana is just a middleman who gained enough popularity to run for an important seat, he is neither the source of the money, nor the person moving the strings in Paraguayan politics.”

Investigative journalist, Paraguay

Following the opening of the prosecution’s investigation, Quintana accused general prosecutor Sandra Quiñónez of leading a “judiciary terrorist” initiative against him, to which Quiñónez responded that evidence of wrongdoing against him “spoke for itself”.

All of this just points to the level of control that the Colorado Party has over Paraguay. There have been weeks of protests [against the government for the mismanagement of Covid-19] and the fact that they refuse to drop Quintana as a candidate, or in the first place to choose him, shows the level of impunity with which the Colorado Party operates.

A Washington based geopolitical expert believes the US designation of Quintana is a message for the leadership of the Colorado Party, “It is unacceptable to the international community that Quintana remained a member of parliament while in jail. It just shows how politicised the judiciary is. Furthermore, there is a general perception that drug trafficking is not being taken seriously by Paraguay. Cabañas’ organisation isn’t small, his deals extend to Bolivia and possibly other countries in the region.”

“There is a general perception that drug trafficking is not been taken seriously by Paraguay. Cabañas’ organisation isn’t small, his deals extend to Bolivia and possibly other countries in the region.”

Washington-based geopolitical expert

The logistics executive agrees, “Of course it is a political message. Quintana, is a ‘useful idiot’ but US designation is directed at all power spheres in the country. Drug trafficking in Paraguay is out of control. In the past, it used to be a hub for transportation but now there is local production of some drugs like cocaine as seen with recent raids in the EU and the US.”

Important Notice
While the information in this article has been prepared in good faith, no representation, warranty, assurance or undertaking (express or implied) is or will be made, and no responsibility or liability is or will be accepted by Deheza Limited or by its officers, employees or agents in relation to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness or reasonableness of this article, or of any other information (whether written or oral), notice or document supplied or otherwise made available in connection with this article. All and any such responsibility and liability is expressly disclaimed.
This article has been delivered to interested parties for information only. Deheza Limited gives no undertaking to provide the recipient with access to any additional information or to update this article or any additional information, or to correct any inaccuracies in it which may become apparent.

Most recent in Politics

All eyes on you

Sheinbaum’s 2024 Mexican presidential race.

Panamania 

Panama's 2024 presidential election.

Troubled Waters

Haiti’s challenge of gang violence and international support.

Navigating the Surge

Addressing escalating crime in the Caribbean.

Ecuador shuts its door

President Noboa’s bold security measures and economic strife.

Colombia’s Political Carousel

Gustavo Petro's quest for stability.

Crude awakening 

Venezuela's ongoing political challenges amid eased oil and gas sanctions. 

Costa Rica’s escalating homicides

The urgent call for unified action against drug trafficking.

Unravelling the political tapestry

Mexico's presidential race.

Ecuador’s political crossroad

Shaking up Ecuador's 2023 presidential race.