US embassy cable - 03GUATEMALA77


Identifier: 03GUATEMALA77
Wikileaks: View 03GUATEMALA77 at
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Created: 2003-01-10 18:18:00
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  The Ambassador and USAID Director met 
with MINUGUA Chief Koenigs, who was thankful for USG support 
on extension of MINUGUA's mandate through 2004, and was 
cautiously optimistic about further implementation of the 
Peace Accords.  The Ambassador discussed possible 
counternarcotics decertification, CAFTA negotiations, and 
donor collaboration in the Consultative Group.  Koenigs 
described MINUGUA's priorities for 2003-2004, which include a 
very limited electoral monitoring role, and said MINUGUA 
would have little to contribute to an investigation of 
clandestine groups in Guatemala.  End Summary. 
2.  (U) On January 6, Ambassador Hamilton, USAID Director 
Anders and USAID Coordinator Reisman paid a courtesy call on 
MINUGUA Representative Tom Koenigs, his deputy Maria 
Maldonado and assistant Jens Urban.  The discussion was 
wide-ranging and cordial in tone. 
Grateful for Extended Mandate 
3.  (SBU) Koenigs thanked the Ambassador warmly for USG 
support for extending MINUGUA's mandate to the end of 2004 
and outlined MINUGUA's priority agenda for its remaining two 
years, namely human rights, indigenous advancement, and 
demilitarization.  MINUGUA's focus will be on 
capacity-building of local institutions, and all human rights 
case verifications will be conducted jointly between MINUGUA 
and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH).  Koenigs 
said he would propose to UN headquarters that all field 
officers work exclusively in local capacity building in 2004. 
Upbeat on Accords; Concerned About "Differences In Agenda" 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
3.  (SBU) Koenigs said he was optimistic about prospects for 
progress on Peace Accords implementation in the remaining 
year of the Portillo Administration, despite the challenges 
ahead.  Koenigs highlighted MINUGUA's successes and ongoing 
efforts to urge the government to adhere to key elements of 
the peace agenda.   He cited the importance of the 
Consultative Group process and meeting in Guatemala later 
this year.  The Ambassador pledged support for the donor 
consensus in the CG while noting we had some doubts over the 
value of a CG with an outgoing government. 
4.  (SBU) Koenigs referred to a perceived "difference in 
agenda" between the USG and MINUGUA, particularly in the area 
of security and demilitarization.  On the security issue, 
Koenigs said that although personal security is the top 
concern of the majority of Guatemalans, Guatemala lacks a 
"Giuliani" to help address law enforcement problems.  He was 
critical of the performance of the National Civil Police 
(PNC), citing "stupidity" as "half of the problem."  Koenigs 
also noted that the PNC did not receive adequate resources 
(and international donor support was limited) and was 
consistently overshadowed by the military. 
5.  (SBU) Koenigs said that MINUGUA is particularly concerned 
about "remilitarization" and the growing power of the 
military (he cited joint patrolling with PNC, potential role 
in maritime patrols, etc.).  While claiming a good working 
relationship with the military, particularly the Minister of 
Defense, Koenigs nonetheless believes that civilian oversight 
and control is weak at best.   Koenigs also expressed concern 
that no security body be set up outside of civilian control 
(Comment: perhaps alluding to Presidential candidate Oscar 
Berger's idea to convert the Army into a "gendarmerie-like" 
institution.  End Comment.).  Koenigs credited the GOG for 
its announced plan to demobilize the EMP, but expressed 
concern that the EMP's civilian presidential security 
replacement (SAAS), might be vulnerable to a security 
incident intended to undermine its political viability. 
6.  (SBU) The Ambassador doubted that we actually have a 
difference in agenda.  He explained current restrictions on 
our mil-mil relationship, i.e., regular IMET and FMF being 
prohibited by law.  He said we will have a frank dialogue 
with the Guatemalan military on human rights, transparency in 
the military budget and on the need for the military to be 
apolitical.  Thus, the Ambassador said, we see no difference 
in agenda. 
7.  (SBU) Koenigs asked the Ambassador how USG narcotics 
decertification would affect the GOG.  The Ambassador 
explained the possibility of a national interest waiver and 
said we will seek GOG participation in a Central Amercian 
Free Trade Agreement regardless.   The Ambassador told 
Koenigs that while there was obvious tension in our bilateral 
relationship due to our concerns over corruption and 
narco-trafficking, we have every intention of making progress 
in these areas and in the overall bilateral relationship. 
Sees Limited MINUGUA Role in Elections Observation 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
8.  (SBU) Koenigs said that MINUGUA sees itself playing a 
very limited role in elections monitoring -- since its field 
presence and capacity are now so limited.  He said the OAS 
and the EU (which is well advanced in planning an observer 
mission) must take the lead role in elections monitoring. 
(Note:  USAID is funding part of the OAS' broader voter 
outreach effort and is gathering more information on other 
OAS and EU plans for election monitoring.  End Note.)  Since 
Guatemala's last two elections have been largely free and 
fair, Koenigs does not expect UN headquarters to mount an 
observation mission in 2003 unless it receives a specific 
request from the GOG.  Were MINUGUA asked to take a more 
prominent role in elections monitoring, he said, it would 
need additional resources. 
9.  (SBU) When pressed about a possible Rios Montt candidacy, 
Koenigs commented that he guessed it to be a "50/50" 
possibility, particularly now given his hold on the Army 
through his son's recent promotion.  Koenigs said he was 
under strict orders from UN headquarters not to comment 
publicly on the validity of specific candidacies, 
particularly if Rios Montt were to be cleared to run by the 
Constitutional Court. 
Concerned About Human Rights 
10.  (SBU) Koenigs lauded the Department's annual Human 
Rights Report for Guatemala and commended the Embassy's 
continuing concern and emphasis on human rights and 
implementation of the Peace Accords.  Koenigs expressed 
concern about recent extrajudicial killings and threats 
against indigenous leaders.  The style of the attacks clearly 
indicate involvement of individuals trained in military 
11.  (SBU) Turning to the proposal from human rights groups 
to mount a commission to investigate clandestine groups and 
activities in Guatemala, Koenigs was distinctly 
unenthusiastic about MINUGUA collaboration and about any such 
commission's prospects for success.  Koenigs stated flatly 
that, despite mention of the worrisome existence of 
clandestine groups in its most recent report, MINUGUA does 
not have specific information on clandestine groups, could 
not take on the task of verifying the existence of these 
groups without additional resources, and currently would not 
have much to contribute to such an investigation. 
Furthermore, Koenigs said that the Salvador death squad 
commission being promoted as a model for this commission was 
considered to have been largely ineffective by the UN. 
12.  (SBU) Koenigs, who has a background in Green Party 
politics before working for the UN for three years in Bosnia, 
seems a littled surprised but pleased to be so closely allied 
with the U.S. in Guatemala, his (mis)perceptions of 
"differences in agenda" notwithstanding.  This initial 
meeting was useful in clarifying some of those perceptions, 
and setting a cooperative tone for collaboration in the 
run-up to the Consultative Group meeting.  Koenig's 
misgivings about a commission to investigate clandestine 
groups seem to stem from an understandable concern to prevent 
further MINUGUA mandate-creep at a time when it is beginning 
its phase-out. 

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