Corrupción en Guatemala

Cable de EE UU en el que Castresana le comunica que el 60% de Guatemala está bajo el control de los narcotraficantes

El fiscal español asegura que el narcotráfico, fundamentalmente mexicano, recluta a pandilleros de la Mara Salvatrucha y corrompe a los cuerpos de seguridad y de la judicatura

Date:2009-12-24 18:16:00
Source:Embassy Guatemala

DE RUEHGT #1035/01 3581816
R 241816Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/24
SUBJECT: WHA DAS Reynoso's Visit Reaffirms Partnership with Guatemala

REF: A) 09 GUATEMALA 254; B) 09 GUATEMALA 1284; C) 09 GUATEMALA 917
D) 09 GUATEMALA 1023

CLASSIFIED BY: Stephen G. McFarland, Ambassador, STATE, POL/ECON;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: During her December 13-16 visit to Guatemala,
WHA DAS Julissa Reynoso

met with President Colom, First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom, senior
members of government, CICIG Commissioner Castresana, and
representatives of civil society, the press, and the business
community. Colom focused on the situation in Honduras and
Guatemala's pending tax legislation while the First Lady noted the
positive impact of the many social programs which fall under the
Social Cohesion Council, which she leads. Colom also expressed
interest in making an official visit to Washington to meet
President Obama and the Secretary. CICIG Commissioner Castresana
detailed the continuing challenges his commission faces in
prosecuting cases in Guatemala and sought support for a U.S.-based
CICIG office in Houston. DAS Reynoso also visited various
USG-supported projects which are decreasing rates of malnutrition,
supporting microenterprise, and making the judicial system more
efficient. She also met with Otto Perez Molina, the principal
opposition leader, who explained his party's platform for the
upcoming 2011 elections. DAS Reynoso's visit received wide and
positive press coverage indicating interest on the part of
Guatemalans in seeing high-level USG engagement. End Summary.

Meeting with President Colom Focuses on Honduras, Tax Reform

2. (C) President Alvaro Colom, accompanied by Foreign
Minister Haroldo Rodas, opened his

meeting with DAS Reynoso by discussing justice reform in Guatemala.
Colom acknowledged that the UN-led International Commission Against
Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has provided crucial support to the
justice sector, particularly to the Attorney General's office
(Public Ministry) and the courts. Colom also touched on his
administration's pending tax legislation proposals, and noted that
there was still a chance of passing them this year despite the
traditional resistance Guatemalans have to taxes. (Note: The
proposed law would increase taxes on businesses and impose a
much-derided cell phone tax. Recent press reports following the
visit indicate this issue will be tabled until 2010. End Note.)
Turning to the issue of food security, Colom lauded the First
Lady's Social Cohesion Council programs, which he claimed have
improved human development indicators in all areas where the
programs are active except for maternal deaths (Ref A). Colom then
expressed interest in making an official visit to Washington in the
first half of 2010, and underscored his desire to meet with
President Obama and Secretary Clinton.

3. (C) Shifting the focus to Honduras, Colom agreed with DAS
Reynoso that newly-elected

President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo seems like a well-intentioned
interlocutor and someone who can restore peace to the country.
Foreign Minister Rodas interjected, stating that once Lobo begins
his mandate, Guatemala will have to wait and see what happens.
Rodas asserted that Guatemala could not accept that a coup,
followed by elections, would somehow justify the illegal overthrow
of the government. Rodas also noted that the USG's continued role
in Honduras is critical to ensure a smooth recovery. According to
Rodas, the economic and social impact of the crisis will only begin
to be felt once a more stable government is in place.

4. (C) DAS Reynoso asked Colom for Guatemala's support on the
upcoming UN vote on the "Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic
Republic of Iran". Rodas responded that Guatemala was awaiting the
results of a UN commission deliberating the issue and hinted that
Guatemala would follow this commission's recommendation. (Note:
Guatemala previously abstained from voting on this issue. End
Note.) Rodas also indicated that Guatemala is not interested in
establishing a closer relationship with Iran as other Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) countries have done.

5. (C) In an otherwise positive meeting, Rodas criticized the
USG for its reporting cycle which

publicizes country indicators from the prior year. While Rodas was
likely alluding to Guatemala's less-than-stellar MCC report card,
Rodas generalized and stated that he did not feel Guatemala is
treated as well as other countries in the region despite its
importance in Central America (Ref B). HehEhHeHe argued that
Guatemala's indicators have improved in the last year. Colom,
however, ended the meeting on a positive note claiming that 2010
would be a better year for Guatemala and that with Honduras
resolved, the country could proceed to aggressively tackle other
issues, including focusing on empowering indigenous women.

First Lady Emphasizes Development and Women's Issues

6. (C) DAS Reynoso's conversation with First Lady Sandra
Torres de Colom centered on

development and women's issues. The First Lady acknowledged the
support Guatemala has received through USAID programs. In
addition, she detailed the many successes of the social programs
which fall under the Social Cohesion Council, which she spearheads.
Despite implementation obstacles, including the difficulty of
working with a population that speaks 23 different indigenous
languages, a traditionally male-dominated society, and a natural
suspicion of social programs, a number of her initiatives have been
highly successful. She noted that the "My Family Progresses"
program has assisted 500,000 families by providing monthly cash
stipends to poor mothers on the condition that they keep their
children in school and vaccinated. Torres de Colom noted that this
has resulted in a 53% increase in school attendance where the
program is established. She also noted that another component of
the Council is the "Open Schools" program which provides children
in gang-infested neighborhoods a safe place to play and learn on
the weekends. Torres de Colom advocated that these programs should
be permanently institutionalized within the government.

7. (C) When discussing conflicts with the private sector over
pending tax legislation, Torres de Colom argued that the private
sector needs to be more flexible and was dismissive of its
accusations of government corruption, which, she claimed have never
amounted to anything but have only detracted from finding real
solutions. The Ambassador offered to facilitate dialogue between
the private sector and the Colom administration (including the
First Lady) in the hopes that they could come to a mutual
understanding of how best to tackle the country's problems.
(Comment: Torres de Colom appeared calm, confident and likable
during the meeting. She linked her initiatives with those of
Secretary Clinton in terms of advancing the rights of minorities
and women. She was clearly convinced that the Colom
administration's domestic-rural focus was the appropriate one.
Torres de Colom is hoping to garner rural support when she runs for
president in 2011 and these programs are an integral part of
establishing herself as an effective leader in these communities
(Ref C). End Comment.)

Private Sector Frustrations

8. (C) In a meeting hosted by the Ambassador at his residence, a
dozen representatives from private industry and the influential
Coordinating Committee for the Chambers of Agriculture, Commerce,
Industry, and Finance (CACIF), voiced their concerns and
frustrations over the current poor state of relations with the
Colom administration. They repeatedly justified their opposition
to the president's tax reform package based on the high levels of
corruption that they believe characterize the government. All
appreciated the Ambassador's efforts to bring the two sides
together but stated that President Colom has only provided empty
promises to date. When DAS Reynoso pressed the private sector to
focus on making practical solutions, they pushed the blame onto
Colom and said that without a credible partner, they could not
accomplish anything. DAS Reynoso pressed back, urging the private
sector to take some responsibility for bridging Guatemala's extreme

wealth distribution gap. In response they noted that the private
sector pays 89% of the country's taxes while individuals only
contribute 11%. Many added that the wealthy are not the only ones
responsible for combating poverty, and argued that the government
needs to increase competition attacking corruption, tax evasion,
and smuggling.

9. (C) Government corruption was also a recurrent theme in a
separate meeting between DAS

Reynoso and members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
A number of members remarked that the goal of the current
administration is to ensure the First Lady is elected president in
2011. However, they also praised CICIG and the Embassy for their
efforts in helping to pass needed legislation and for bringing
together civil society and government organizations in an effort to
foster communication between the two. Members also brought
attention to various training programs the AmCham is sponsoring to
educate judges on intellectual property rights and to train labor
inspectors. Some board members also highlighted their efforts to
demonstrate good corporate social responsibility. For example,
Microsoft has a program in place which teaches former gang members
technical computer skills. Citibank, the largest foreign banking
institution in Guatemala, wants to partner with USAID to allow
Citibank customers to use their credit cards to make contributions
to a food security campaign while doing their regular shopping.
When some AmCham representatives asked DAS Reynoso for the USG's
continued assistance in Guatemala in order to resolve the country's
problems, DAS Reynoso made clear that the USG does not solve
problems but works in partnership with other countries. She
reminded the AmCham guests that Guatemala, and its citizens, need
to take responsibility for making positive change.

CICIG Commissioner Maps Out Next Two Years

10. (C) Carlos Castresana told DAS Reynoso that CICIG would focus
on strengthening the police,

the prison system, the Attorney General's Office, and the courts
during his second two-year tour as Commissioner. Castresana noted
that beefing up security programs for judges and prosecutors are
two areas that he plans to emphasize. Castresana explained that he
expects the next two years to be extremely difficult and a time for
critical decisions, including election of the new Attorney General
in May 2010 and the appointment of a new Constitutional Court in
2011. Castresana thanked the Ambassador for his continued
political support of CICIG, and for the USG's financial and
operational support to the organization. Castresana also sought
resources for a U.S.-based CICIG office in Houston and suggested
that it would cost around 3 million USD per year to operate
although he said a more specific proposal would be submitted soon.
When asked about cooperation with Mexican law enforcement,
Castresana stated that CICIG has utilized DEA Guatemala to
communicate with DEA Mexico and identify reliable Mexican
counterparts. Castresana lamented that the chances of compromising
operational integrity are too great in dealing directly with
Mexican authorities. Castresana opined that 60% of Guatemala was
already in the hands of Mexican drug trafficking organizations and
claimed that if Guatemala becomes a narco-state, El Salvador and
Honduras will fall immediately thereafter.

USG-Supported Projects Showcase Success

11. (U) A Peace-Corps supported women's cooperative and a
USDA-assisted food donation

program welcomed DAS Reynoso on site visits. One Peace Corps
volunteer has been working with a small, local cooperative that
makes organic shampoos, detergents, and soaps. The volunteer, who
holds a degree in advertising and marketing communications, has
been assisting the cooperative in marketing its products with
professional labels and teaching participants how to improve
business practices through employee hour logs and inventory
records. A USDA-assisted food donation program is functioning in
15 departments around Guatemala and has assisted 175,000 people by

providing basic staple foods. The local implementer noted that
there has been a 19% decrease in malnutrition among those children
participating in the program. The assistance also includes an
educational component where mothers give lectures to their peers on
a range of health and social issues. (Note: Residents reported
that the government's social programs, under the First Lady's
Social Cohesion Council, were not active in the community visited.
End Note.)

12. (U) DAS Reynoso also visited a USAID-supported 24-hour court
in Guatemala City. USAID

has supported the creation of five 24-hour courts where police,
prosecutors, judges, public defenders, prison officials, forensic
technicians and court administrators are co-located in

one building and able to efficiently process offenders through the
judicial system. The 24-hour courts are able to hold arraignments,
order pre-trail detention or bail, and authorize arrest and search
warrants, and have been successful in significantly reducing the
opportunities for corruption during this process. Erick Alvarez,
the newly-elected President of the Supreme Court, described for DAS
Reynoso the numerous challenges facing Guatemala's judicial system
- lack of security for judges and witnesses, a lack of focus on
victim protection, the constant struggle prosecutors face in
bringing strong cases to judges for prosecution, and bureaucratic
hurdles which prevent the easy purchase of needed equipment,
including armored vehicles.

Civil Society Pessimism

13. (SBU) In a meeting with representatives of civil society, DAS
Reynoso heard about their

frustrations with the current administration. Influential human
rights activist Helen Mack, of the Myrna Mack Foundation, stated
that Guatemala is "going the way of Honduras" and there is
increasing instability. Others criticized the corruption and
inefficiency of the government but offered no solutions. NGO
Mutual Support Group (GAM) leader Mario Polanco thanked DAS Reynoso
for Embassy support for human rights, including the Ambassador's
presence at the trial that resulted in the first conviction of a
military officer for forced disappearance (Ref D).

Opposition Candidate Prepares for 2011

14. (C) DAS Reynoso also met with Otto Perez Molina, the leading
opposition candidate, of the

Patriot Party (PP). Perez Molina described his party's platform
and his focus for the 2011 election. He said that PP also has
included a version of the "My Family Progresses" in his party's
platform but wants to add additional elements of transparency and
accountability. He stated that security and justice reform will be
a central part of his proposal although he is also working on a
social/rural development plan.

15. (C) When asked what the USG could do to help Guatemala, Perez
Molina responded that

the U.S. and Guatemala are "natural allies" who should enjoy even
better commercial relations. Perez Molina thought CAFTA-DR could
be better managed by the government to compel local businesses to
meet their obligations under the agreement. In turn, this would
make the government look better; however, the current organization
is weak and inefficient. He remarked that human rights seemed to
be the Obama's administration dominant priority while for him, the
commercial relationship between the two countries was the most
important issue. He also acknowledged that Guatemala needs to do
its part as a responsible U.S. partner rather than always asking
for help. The government must provide basic services including
education, health care, potable water, and roads. In addition, the
government must invest in establishing a proper police academy to

better train police officers. PP envisions creating a police
academy with vetted cadets who will pursue a six-month intensive
training program. Perez Molina also faulted the lack of civil
service employees for inconsistency in the execution of basic
services. He noted that there is a civil service law in the
Guatemalan Congress which his party supports.

16. (C) Perez Molina predicted that beginning next year,
Congressional deputies would begin to

change parties in an attempt to align themselves with the
presidential candidate they think has the greatest chance of
winning. However, he noted that this lack of attention on domestic
problems will make it even more difficult for President Colom to
pursue his agenda. Regarding tax reform, Perez Molina criticized
Colom for showing no interest in this issue earlier in the year and
said that it is not the kind of legislation that can be "put
together at the last minute." Consequently, he believed the
legislation was unlikely to pass.

Broad Press Coverage

17. (U) DAS Reynoso's visit received wide and positive press
coverage. In her public statements

and private meetings, DAS Reynoso emphasized the USG's desire to
partner with countries in the region to improve the justice and
security sectors, alleviate poverty and develop fitting food
security iQtiatives. Her visit reaffirmed for the Guatemalans
that it is considered a USG- partner nation and that USG
assistance, through USAID programs, the Merida initiative, the
Department of Defense, and other sources, will continue to help
Guatemala prosper. It was clear from the positive reaction to her
visit that Guatemala highly values its relationship with the U.S.
and would eagerly support another high-level visitor.

18. (U) WHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Reynoso cleared this
message prior to transmission.
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