The US prohibits the entry of the former president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, accused of corruption | International

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Juan Carlos Varela, in Paraguay, in 2019.Carlos Villar Ortiga (EFE)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. has reported this Thursday afternoon that he has prohibited the entry into his country of the former president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, whom Washington accuses of being involved in "important" acts of corruption. Blinken has specified that "while serving as vice president and president, Varela accepted bribes in exchange for the improper award of government contracts."

The Secretary of State has not said that "today I announce the designation of former President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez as generally ineligible to enter the United States, due to his involvement in significant corruption." Blinken has said in a statement issued by the State Department that “this designation reaffirms the commitment of the United States to combat endemic corruption in Panama. The people of Panama trust those who represent them. Corruption unfairly deprives the people of Panama of quality public services such as schools, hospitals and roads, damaging their economic prospects and quality of life. If not addressed, corruption will continue to depress Panama's prosperity, weaken its democracy and prevent it from developing to its full potential."

Varela, who ruled Panama between 2014 and 2019, is accused by the Panamanian Justice for money laundering in the Odebrecht case, in which former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) is also implicated. “We hope that today's action will galvanize Panama's elected representatives and authorities to address entrenched corruption and empower all those who uphold the rule of law. Corruption anywhere harms the national security and economic health of the United States and our allies. We will continue to promote accountability for those involved in significant corruption around the world," Blinken reported. The official has explained that the decision against Varela includes his immediate relatives, who are generally not eligible to enter the United States.

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