US embassy cable - 03GUATEMALA102

AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES MILITARY-TO-MIILTARY RELATIONSHIP WITH MOD

Identifier: 03GUATEMALA102
Wikileaks: View 03GUATEMALA102 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Created: 2003-01-14 22:16:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MOPS PINR MASS PGOV SNAR PHUM GT
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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 GUATEMALA 000102 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2013 
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, PINR, MASS, PGOV, SNAR, PHUM, GT 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES MILITARY-TO-MIILTARY 
RELATIONSHIP WITH MOD 
 
 
Classified By: DATT COL RICHARD NAZARIO FOR REASON 1.5 (A) AND (D). 
 
 1.  (C) Summary: During an introductory call on MOD Robin 
Moran, the Ambassador restated USG policy in dealing with the 
Guatemalan military and reviewed the benchmarks for possibly 
establishing normal military-to-military relations.  The 
Ambassador said that the military needs to improve its human 
rights performance, especially its cooperation with other 
agencies, show positive results in curtailing illegal 
activities, and increase transparency in the military budget. 
 The MOD acknowledged the problems in the bilateral 
relationship and agreed that more needs to be done.  End 
summary. 
 
2.  (U) On 9 January, 2003, Ambassador Hamilton paid an 
introductory call on Minister of Defense, Major General Robin 
Moran  The meeting took place at the MOD's office; the 
Ambassador was accompanied by DATT and the MILGROUP Commander. 
 
3.  (C) The Ambassador began by telling the MOD frankly that 
the Guatemalan military continues to have a negative image in 
the USG, based largely on the human rights abuses committed 
during the internal conflict, the lack of cooperation in 
ongoing investigations into these atrocities, and deeply 
ingrained corruption.  The Ambassador noted that there is a 
perception that, in the last couple of years, the military 
has moved backwards in terms of human rights protection and 
budget transparency.  As a result, the current USG 
restrictions, which prevent normal military-to-military 
relations in terms of training, FMF and other military 
assistance, will remain in place.  When the Guatemalan 
military shows significant progress and complies with the six 
benchmarks (see para 11) that we have previously discussed, 
the U.S. Executive would be prepared to advocate lifting the 
restrictions with the Congress. 
 
4.  (C) The Ambassador noted that one of his personal goals 
while in Guatemala is to see Guatemalan military performance 
improve to such an extent that compelling arguments could be 
made for restoring a full military-to-military relationship. 
He said that it is up to the Guatemalan military, however, to 
show that they have reformed to such an extent as to merit a 
restored relationship. 
 
5.  (C) The Ambassador told the MOD that there is a high 
probability that Guatemala will be decertified based on poor 
counter-narcotics cooperation, and that this would affect 
other areas of the bilateral relationship.  The Ambassador 
noted that recertification could be possible, even in the 
current year, but would take a determined effort by the 
government to deal effectively with this problem.  The 
Ambassador said to the MOD that it is imperative that the 
military redirect its priorities and resources, and increase 
cooperation with other government agencies to combat drug 
trafficking together and show positive results.  The 
Ambassador also told the MOD that the military needs to 
cashier corrupt officers and eliminate the influence that 
some retired military officers have over military matters 
such as promotions, assignments and operations.  He also 
mentioned the imperative to do all possible to put an end to 
threats against the Guatemalan human rights community. 
 
6.  (C) An apparently sincere MOD thanked the Ambassador for 
his frankness and his candid observations regarding the 
weaknesses of the military.  The MOD said that these types of 
criticism have provided him with ammunition he needed to 
fight corruption and eliminate "bad apples."  The MOD 
explained that he had used recent declarations made by US 
officials about parallel forces and corruption to get 
authorization from President Portillo to remove from active 
duty several senior officers allegedly involved in 
corruption. 
 
7.  (C) The MOD described other initiatives that the military 
is taking to professionalize the institution, such as a major 
restructuring that will involve the reduction of 
approximately 6,000 members of the Armed Forces and the 
closure of several military installations around the country. 
 This restructuring will save money in salaries and overhead 
maintenance of the installations.  The money saved could be 
used to improve quality of life, training and equipment.  The 
MOD said that the personnel reduction involves approximately 
1,000 officers and 5,000 enlisted personnel and specialists. 
The MOD noted that he was promised a budget allocation by 
April to compensate officers and specialists for their 
services and to contribute to their retirement pensions.  In 
response to the Ambassador's question about how these 
officers will be selected for retirement, the MOD said that 
an honor selection board will be formed to review each 
officer's record and standard of living.  Those officers with 
a record of bad performance or who cannot justify their 
standard of living based on their salaries or other 
legitimate income will be removed first. 
 
8.  (C) The MOD tried to justify the need for secrecy of the 
military budget in order to be able to protect the country, 
and the lack of more active participation by the military in 
anti-narcotics operations based on scarce resources.  The 
Ambassador responded that there are several ways to justify 
the military expenditures and budget to their Congress while 
maintaining legitimate state secrets.  In regard to the lack 
of resources, the Ambassador suggested that the military 
needs to be more aggressive in working with the judicial 
system and other government institutions to find ways to use 
seized assets from anti-narcotics operations, such as boats 
and airplanes, against illegal traffickers. 
 
9.  (C) The MOD stated to the Ambassador that on December 31, 
2002, he traveled to Mexico accompanied by the Minister of 
Government to meet with their counterparts in order to 
increase regional cooperation in the fight against narcotics 
traffickers.  The MOD stated that the pledge for cooperation 
between both countries was put to the test immediately upon 
his return when the Mexican Navy was allowed to enter 
Guatemalan waters in pursuit of narco-traffickers, and 
captured two go-fast boats and over 2,200 kilos of cocaine. 
The MOD said that he needs more resources and intelligence 
cooperation to be able to be more responsive to these types 
of operations.  The Ambassador stated that based on current 
restrictions, the Guatemalan military should not count on any 
US material assistance other than advice and intelligence 
cooperation, but instead the military should seek increased 
regional cooperation and reprioritize use of their current 
resources. 
 
10. (C) Comment: The Minister of Defense clearly values the 
relationship with the USG, and was open in acknowledging the 
problems that have kept the bilateral military-to-military 
relationship at a low in recent years.  While anxious to work 
with us to improve the relationship, particularly in reducing 
the influence of former military officers and in increasing 
military cooperation against transnational criminal threats, 
Moran did not suggest that the GOG is moving to address the 
specific benchmarks for restoring IMET and FMF.  We will 
continue to use his interest in a better relationship with us 
to seek concrete action on the benchmarks during the coming 
months. 
 
11. (C)  In the interest of comprehensiveness, the six 
benchmarks are: 
--  Military cooperation with investigation into human rights 
abuses committed during the internal conflict; 
--  Disbandment of the EMP; 
--  Removal of certain key officers implicated in corrupt 
activities, human rights offenses, or organized crime; 
--  Full military cooperation and intelligence sharing with 
the USG against narcotics, alien smuggling and terrorism; 
--  Cooperation of the military (D-2) with civilian 
authorities to identify individuals and groups harassing 
human rights workers and provide intelligence; 
--  Military recognition of congressional (civilian) 
oversight of their budget. 
Hamilton 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04