US embassy cable - 03GUATEMALA127

AMBASSADOR'S INITIAL CALL ON HELEN MACK

Identifier: 03GUATEMALA127
Wikileaks: View 03GUATEMALA127 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Created: 2003-01-16 16:22:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PREL PINR KJUS 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 03 GUATEMALA 000127 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2013 
TAGS: PHUM, PREL, PINR, KJUS, GT 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S INITIAL CALL ON HELEN MACK 
 
REF: A. 02 GUATEMALA 2605 
 
     B. 02 GUATEMALA 2970 
     C. 02 GUATEMALA 3275 
 
Classified By: HR Off, Katharine Read, for reason 1.5 (d). 
 
1. (U) Summary: The Ambassador paid an introductory call on 
Helen Mack at the Myrna Mack Foundation on January 13.  They 
discussed the proposal to investigate clandestine groups, the 
impending decertification decision, the Consultative Group 
meeting, the status of the Mack case, and recent wave of 
violence.  After a cordial discussion, the Ambassador held a 
brief question and answer session with the press in which he 
reiterated support for human rights groups and concern over a 
"deteriorating human rights situation."  See paragraph 14 for 
account of efforts we are making to support the proposal to 
investigate clandestine groups. End Summary. 
 
2. (C) The Ambassador, accompanied by PolOff and HROff, 
visited the Myrna Mack Foundation on January 13 to meet with 
prominent justice and human rights advocate Helen Mack.  Mack 
had not been able to attend the Ambassador's initial meeting 
with human rights groups on December 20 (Ref C).  Mack began 
by thanking the Ambassador for his visit and his vocal 
support of human rights workers. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
Questions about the Investigative Commission Proposal 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
3. (C) Mack invited the Ambassador to attend the press 
conference that the Human Rights Ombudsman, Sergio Morales, 
is hosting on January 16, to present to the GOG and the 
public a proposal to investigate clandestine groups.  The 
Ambassador asked Mack if the human rights community had 
decided on a specific date range for the scope of the 
investigative commission (Ref B), what the legal status of 
the commission would be, and if Sergio Morales would be the 
public leader of the proposal after his press conference.  He 
also asked why Morales chose January 16 for his public 
announcement and what kind of responses the human rights 
leaders had received from GOG entities so far. 
 
4. (C) Mack said that the human rights community now agrees 
that the scope of the investigative commission should be from 
January of 1996 to the present.  Mack said the legal status 
of the commission is still negotiable, but that the 
international status of the commission would guarantee its 
integrity and freedom to operate in the country. 
 
5. (C) Turning to the Ombudsman's role, Mack said it is clear 
that Morales knows it is in his professional interest to ask 
for this commission and to embrace the human rights 
community, but he is also concerned about his personal 
safety.  Mack implied that, although Morales will lead the 
call for a commission, the human rights community will 
continue to play a major role in ensuring that the commission 
is set up and can do its work. 
 
6. (C) Mack said the Ombudsman chose January 16 to make the 
proposal public because the human rights community calculated 
that U.S. counter-narcotics decertification was imminent and 
that the GOG might support the creation of the commission in 
order to regain favor with the USG and the international 
community.  Mack asked the Ambassador if he would consider 
negotiating a decertification waiver in exchange for 
acceptance of the commission by the FRG leadership.  The 
Ambassador explained that decertification is a unilateral 
decision of the USG and will not be negotiated with the GOG. 
However, he pledged our continued support for the commission 
and told Mack he will attend the Ombudsman's event launching 
the proposal on January 16. 
 
7. (C) Mack, who has a close personal relationship with Vice 
President Reyes because of her past experience as a 
businesswoman and Opus Dei member, told the Ambassador that 
she had solicited Reyes' support for the commission, arguing 
that it offers the FRG an opportunity to distance itself from 
the Portillo administration.  Mack said that while he did not 
make any commitments, Reyes is "open" to the idea.  He is the 
only member of the GOG whom Mack has consulted. 
 
------------------ 
Consultative Group 
------------------ 
 
8. (SBU) Mack and the Ambassador agreed that a Consultative 
Group meeting could be useful to promote further steps toward 
completion of the peace accord goals.  The Ambassador 
mentioned the USG concern that, if the Consultative Group 
meeting were held now, Portillo would try to manipulate it 
for electoral ends.  However, as MINUGUA and civil society 
are strongly in favor of another Consultative Group meeting 
during this administration, the Ambassador said the USG 
accepts the idea.  He added that we will push to have 
opposition political parties involved so that they too will 
buy into the Consultative Group's conclusions and 
recommendations. 
 
---------------- 
Mack Case Status 
---------------- 
 
9. (SBU) The Ambassador asked Mack about the status of her 
cases against the GOG in the Inter-American Court on Human 
Rights (IACHR) and against the three military officers in the 
domestic courts (Ref A).  She said that the trial in the 
IACHR is set for February 18-20 and that she and her lawyers 
are busy preparing for the oral debate.  The sentence the 
domestic courts issued in October finding Colonel Valencia 
Osorio guilty and General Godoy Gaitan and Colonel Oliva 
Carrera innocent is currently in the appeals court, as both 
the defense and the prosecution have appealed.  Mack said the 
three possibilities from this appeals process are that the 
court will annul the sentence, confirm the sentence, or find 
all three officers guilty.  Mack is hoping for the 
condemnation of all three, but hopes that at the very least 
the sentence will be confirmed. 
 
---------------- 
Renewed Violence 
---------------- 
 
10. (SBU) The Ambassador shared with Mack his concern over 
the recent shootings of judges and threats against human 
rights workers.  In the past three weeks there have been a 
string of murders or attempted murders against prominent 
individuals, including a former Minister of Defense, former 
President of Congress, and two sitting judges.  He asked her 
what she thought of the murder of Judge Hector Mauricio 
Rodriguez, who was killed on January 12.  Mack replied that 
even though he was an administrative judge and the Supreme 
Court President said that Rodriguez was not involved in 
"conflictive cases," he was the presiding judge in the Maycom 
and Telgua telecommunications corruption cases.  She said 
Rodriguez had received previous threats from his work in the 
Criminal Court, which is why he was carrying a gun at the 
time of his shooting. 
 
11. (C) Mack believes the threats against human rights 
activists Orlando Blanco and Claudia Samayoa, as well as the 
blatant surveillance of Ombudsman Morales' daughters, are all 
connected to the proposal to investigate clandestine groups. 
She thinks members of these groups are threatened by the idea 
of an international investigation and are seeking to 
intimidate its proponents.  The Ambassador pledged to 
continue to support human rights workers publicly and to call 
on the government to investigate these incidents. 
 
------------------------ 
Press gets a Firm Pledge 
------------------------ 
 
12. (U) At the conclusion of the meeting, Ambassador Hamilton 
had a brief question-and-answer session with the press. 
Leading daily Prensa Libre published the following excerpt 
from his statements: 
 
"This (human rights) situation is troubling; after years of 
improvement, it is deteriorating.  We want to see advances 
and a situation in which there are neither threats nor 
political violence.  You can be sure that our support (for 
human rights groups) is going to continue." 
 
The article also mentioned that Ambassador Hamilton was 
concerned about recent acts of violence in the capital and 
that he has expressed confidence that the Public Ministry 
would investigate the murder of Judge Rodriguez as well as 
other violent crimes. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
13. (C) The Ambassador's meeting with Helen Mack highlighted 
continued USG support for human rights groups but revealed 
that the human rights community does not seem to have a firm 
grasp on where the money will come from (note: Mack mentioned 
MINUGUA transition funds or UN Operations funds), how to 
lobby the GOG (other than Mack's effective relationship with 
Reyes), or who will effectively lead the proposal to its 
fruition. 
 
14. (C) Although the proposal is no panacea for the problem 
of clandestine groups, we believe it has merit and are 
encouraging the GOG and the FRG to support it.  To that end, 
the Ambassador spoke by phone with President Portillo January 
14, Portillo responding that the GOG would indeed back the 
proposal (we shall see).  The Ambassador also pitched the 
proposal to Attorney General Carlos de Leon (on whose turf 
the commission would intrude) and to FRG Deputy Zury Rios 
Sosa (septel).  De Leon expressed qualified support, noting 
that legal niceties had to be respected in giving an 
international mechanism authority to investigate.  Rios said 
the FRG "would not oppose" but resisted being coaxed into a 
more positive position pending consultation with the party. 
The Ambassador will also raise the subject with the Foreign 
Minister and Vice President, both of whom have been at the 
Gutierrez inaugural in Quito.  We are also encouraging 
support from the Guatemalan private sector and from 
colleagues in the Diplomatic community.  In that vein, 
MINUGUA Director Tom Koenigs was more positive about the 
commission in a January 14 meeting with the Consultative 
Group Dialogue Group than he had been in a meeting January 6 
with the Ambassador.  End Comment. 
Hamilton 

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