AMERICASOPINION

Javier Mancuello Benitez: South America’s contraband top dog

By Adam B. Fairmont

On July 1, 2019, the President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez presented before the National Congress and his countrymen the accomplishments of his government in infrastructure, affordable public housing, support for agricultural production and economic growth. [1]  

During his first year in office, President Mario Abdo Benitez’s Government has led various employment programs, started the process of building the new bridge on Parana River that will radically improve the connectivity between Paraguay and Brazil and has made important strides in delivering property documents to all citizens that are benefiting from Agrarian Reform.

However the Paraguayan head of state failed to openly admit and point out the poor performance of Paraguayan Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez Astigarraga, regionally known for her deep connections with organized crime and money laundering enterprises throughout Paraguay that are working to benefit Hezbollah Terrorist Groups and Islamic Republic of Iran. [2] 

During his tenure, President Benitez has failed to establish a reliable and honest network of District Attorney’s across Paraguay and conduct a thorough transparency operation within the leadership of Paraguay’s Naval Prefecture General that is led by Jorge Javier Mancuello Benitez.  Moreover, the Attorney General’s Office and Sandra Quiñonez constitutional responsibilities are practically used to muster nepotism, Quiñonez has used her authority to avoid credible investigation on traffic of influence and conduct thorough investigation for illicit enrichment committed by National Senator Javier Zacarías Irún and his wife Sandra María McLeod.  Quiñonez is openly guilty for looking the other way when it comes to investigating the mega schemes of money laundering orchestrated by terrorist groups and individuals connected to Hezbollah, acting like businessmen in Ciudad del Este; who are funneling and conducting money laundering operations, conducting financial operations to the benefit of their compatriots in Lebanon. [3] 

In March 2019, Roberto Acevedo, former president of Paraguayan National Senate (2016-2017), has openly denounced the involvement of district attorneys in Pedro Juan Caballero into major corruption affairs and for receiving briberies in exchange of allowing large shipments of weapons crossing the border between Paraguay and Brazil and vice versa. Furthermore, Congressman Acevedo has expressed his frustration when it comes to Mrs. Quiñonez district attorneys’ direct implications in providing a safe harbor to various drug trafficking groups and for enabling the safe passage of large contraband shipments across the international border line between Paraguay and Brazil, in the departments of Amambay and Canindeyú.

In the same vein, Miguel Prieto, the newly elected mayor of Ciudad del Estehas openly accused Sandra Quiñonez for her direct ties to organized crime, nepotism and for not properly investigating the financial crimes, kleptocratic practices and other crimes committed under the previous administration of Mayor Sandra McLeod. [4]

As if it were not enough, it is a fact that Sandra Quiñonez is also closely connected (receives the lion’s share of the pie) to a small sectarian group within the General Naval Prefecture, led by Jorge Javier Mancuello Benitez, the incumbent General Naval Prefect who is currently running and sheltering the contraband sale of vegetables and other agricultural products that are illegally crossing the border from Argentina into Paraguay. [5] Even the offices of various Governors, including Ñeembucú, Central and Missiones, are purchasing these contraband products in support of their over charged food programs implemented in the elementary schools across the country.

In these illegal business operations that have been going on for a few years, Calte. Javier Mancuello Benitez has been working closely with his brother, Captain N. Juan Mancuello; they both have earned the nick name of ‘untouchables’ due to their deeply ingrained partnership with Sandra Quiñonez.  According to locals familiar to this matter in Asuncion, General Prefect Mancuello Benitez has made a fortune from earnings generated by extensive briberies paid by Vegetable Smuggles who bring into Paraguayan markets large quantities of tomatoes and other Argentinean vegetables, therefore harming the small local farming enterprises and ruining the domestic production of organic horticulture products. [6] The question is: where do Mancuello brothers find this immunity to safeguard and harbor the vegetable contrabandists that are ruining the domestic farmers’ production? It is Sandra Quiñonez’s responsibility to find out! 

According to local Paraguayan farmers, the agents of Naval Forces’ General Prefecture under the leadership of Mancuello Benitez are not conducting extensive, routine controls in the international borders and they allow the passage of large quantities of tomatoes and green peppers coming from Argentina, with a questionable quality and without having the phytosanitary certifications.  As a result GMO Tomatoes that have crossed the border from Argentina, have flooded the vegetables markets in Asuncion and across the Central Department, causing a decrease of the overall vegetable prices and generating a chaos in the fresh food markets. [7] 

Contra-almiranteMancuello Benitez is also the main person responsible for letting the main headquarters of General Naval Prefecture in Asuncion to be in a deplorable state, where its outside walls and columns are ruined by excessive moisture and its outside patio is the dirtiest block in Paraguay’s capital city.   

Perhaps, President Mario Abdo Benítez should pay a closer look into Javier Mancuello’s and Quiñonez’s wealth generation and astronomical asset growth, at a time when over three million of Paraguayans have no homes, are gravely malnourished and are living in the ugliest slums of Asuncion. [8] While earning an honest living in Paraguay is becoming ever more difficult and poverty levels are rapidly deteriorating due to rampant corruption and pervasive organized crime that controls sectors of Paraguayan Government.  

Sources:

[1] https://www.ip.gov.py/ip/abdo-destaca-avances-en-infraestructura-vivienda-y-reforma-agraria/

[2] https://www.ip.gov.py/ip/mandatario-afirma-que-se-redoblaran-esfuerzos-en-la-lucha-contra-el-secuestro/

[3] https://www.ultimahora.com/fiscales-defienden-sandra-quinonez-y-critican-miguel-prieto-n2828415.html; http://www.novaparaguay.com/nota.asp?n=2019_6_30&id=25273&id_tiponota=4

[4] http://www.laclave.com.py/2019/06/27/miguel-prieto-sandra-quinonez-es-parte-de-la-mafia-y-no-debe-seguir-en-el-cargo/

[5] https://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/economia/2019/07/02/apuntan-a-la-armada-y-a-la-policia-por-contrabando/; https://www.abc.com.py/nacionales/2019/07/01/abdo-reconoce-flaquezas-pero-evita-hablar-de-corrupcion/

[6] https://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/economia/tomate-pese-a-promesas-el-contrabando-sigue-campante-1667799.html; https://www.hoy.com.py/nacionales/incautan-35.000-kilos-de-tomate-de-contrabando-en-tres-dias; https://www.ultimahora.com/contraloria-filtra-mensajes-acusando-quinonez-malversaciones-n2804692.html

[7] https://www.ultimahora.com/sandra-quinonez-asegura-que-no-hay-dilaciones-investigacion-miguel-cuevas-n2827548.html

[8] https://www.ultimahora.com/defensa-cuevas-denuncia-manejo-poco-claro-causa-que-lo-investiga-n2823990.html

Disclaimer: The views are that of the authors and not of the Council or Foreign Policy News.

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