|Wikileaks:||View 03GUATEMALA128 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PGOV PINR SNAR 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 000128 SIPDIS DEPT FOR WHA/CEN E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2013 TAGS: PGOV, PINR, SNAR, GT SUBJECT: PAN IN THE PROCESS OF OVERCOMING INTERNAL RIVALRY REF: A. 02 GUATEMALA 2891 B. 02 GUATEMALA 2977 C. 02 GUATEMALA 3158 Classified By: Political Officer Erik Hall for reason 1.5 (d) 1. (C) Summary: The National Advancement Party's two rival leaders, presidential candidate Oscar Berger and party Secretary General Leonel Lopez Rodas, announced their accord SIPDIS to work together in support of Berger's presidential candidacy. In a symbolic media event on January 13, bulldozers demolished a cement block wall between PAN headquarters and the adjacent Berger campaign office. The deal worked out between the two men consolidates the support of Lopez loyalists for Berger's presidential candidacy in exchange for Berger's support for other candidacies backed by Lopez. While details about the deal are partial, they apparently include an even split of Congressional candidacies, consensual decision-making in the PAN's executive committee, and future consideration of an accord on the vice presidency and mayoralty of the capital. Key private sector backers of Berger are happy with the accord, and some hope Berger will now reach outside the PAN in selecting his running-mate. By assuring party unity for the moment, the agreement between the two men boosts Berger's presidential prospects. End Summary. Background ---------- 2. (SBU) The PAN's November primary generated significant animosity between the two leaders of the Party -- Oscar Berger and Leonel Lopez (see RefTels -- and neither side sought a rapprochement with the other in the early days after the election. Despite Berger's overwhelming primary victory, Lopez Rodas continued to exercise significant control over the party organization through his influence with its local affiliates and his majority in the party's Executive Committee. Several of Berger's financial backers echoed the views of a Prensa Libre editorial calling on Berger to broker peace with Lopez in order to preserve party unity. They argued that Berger's unwillingness to make concessions to Lopez threatened to split the party, making a loss in the national elections more likely. The Deal: Lopez Rodas' Version ------------------------------- 3. (C) Leonel Lopez Rodas told us on January 12 that he and Oscar Berger had reached a firm agreement on the following: -- They will name an equal number of congressional candidates on the national list with Berger getting even numbers and Lopez getting odd numbers. The same applies to the list for congressmen representing Guatemala City. -- Mauricio Urruela (a Lopez supporter) is the candidate for mayor of Guatemala City (for now). He will receive the full support of the party. In early April, the PAN will conduct a poll, and if it looks as if Urruela will not win, he will be replaced by Berger's candidate, Eduardo Castillo. -- Lopez Rodas is the favorite to become the Vice Presidential candidate. However, if by April it looks as if the PAN needs to bring in someone from outside to boost their chances, then Lopez and Berger will make a decision on who to ultimately fill this slot. -- Lopez considers Berger's campaign manager, banker Eduardo Gonzalez, to be the main barrier to effective communication and collaboration between his camp and Berger's. Lopez believes Gonzalez has been the strongest advocate of not making concessions to Lopez that could later undermine Berger's ability to carry out his own plan of government if elected. The Deal: View from Berger Supporters -------------------------------------- 4. (C) The Berger-Lopez Rodas agreement is viewed somewhat differently by Berger supporters. Carlos Arias, CACIF's Labor Commission chief and purportedly a political strategist for Berger's major sponsors, gave PolOff a different account of the Berger-Lopez Rodas deal in a discussion on January 10. The sponsors, which Arias refers to as the "organized private sector" (SPO), is comprised of the Gutierrez-Bosch clan and others, including Peter Lamport, who acts as the group's international affairs person. Cement king Enrique Novella was part of the team before he died in a plane crash in El Salvador late in 2002. According to Arias: -- The SPO is happy that Berger has accommodated Lopez Rodas. The deal includes an even split of Congressional candidates and consensual decision-making in the PAN executive committee (Lopez Rodas had a one-vote margin of control there, but has agreed that Berger will be added to the group). -- The Vice Presidency is not part of the bargain. That issue will be revisited in March or April. Arias implied that there was an agreement that the Vice Presidential candidate should come from outside the PAN (ruling out Lopez Rodas). Ideally, it would be someone who could first unify the small third parties and bring leftist votes to Berger. Arias said his personal preference would be Alvaro Colom. There have also been talks with Mayan organizations about Rigoberto Queme, the indigenous Mayor of Quetzaltenango. (Comment: Queme has registered a party to give him an option to run for president. End Comment.) -- Arias said that the PAN's candidate for Mayor of Guatemala City was also not part of the Lopez Rodas-Berger deal. He noted that Prensa Libre had a story saying Berger had selected Mauricio Urruela as his preferred candidate. Arias called Urruela "a thief" from a good family who is hated by the SPO. He called the press article a trial balloon. -- Asked what role Eduardo Gonzalez would have in a potential Berger administration, Arias said Gonzalez would run it from within. He credited Gonzalez with engineering Berger's primary victory. -- The SPO invested heavily in the PAN primaries, and also contracted a U.S. political consultant and Felipe Noguera, an Argentine based in Miami for technical assistance. For now, they have retained only Noguera's services. -- SPO members recognize that to recoup power they must focus on the 2003 election (supporting Berger) while also looking beyond the presidency and cultivating Congressional deputies in as many parties as possible. They are now totally committed to legal, constitutional pursuit of lasting influence in the GOG, "whatever their attitudes may have been in the past." -- The immediate task now is to finalize Berger's political platform. In parallel, the SPO will also produce its own proposals on a plan of government, including how to finance it, and distribute it to all political parties. -- With the new accommodation between Lopez Rodas and Berger, the main losers, according to Arias, will be the Unionist party. The Unionist split from the PAN was a reaction by former president Arzu against Lopez Rodas. While some Unionists will return to the PAN to support Berger nevertheless, some Unionists closest to Arzu will not be welcomed by Lopez Rodas. -- According to Arias the SPO's "kings" of the private sector have changed their thinking: first, by deciding to work together for mutual rather than private interests, and second, to accommodate to new rules of the game under globalization by seeking influence by operating within the democratic system. He believes it is in the interest of the SPO for the USG to be aware of this democratic evolution and hopefully to welcome it. 5. (C) Note: Felipe Noguera, the Argentine consultant, has a long history as consultant to El Salvador's ARENA party, according to Pollo Campero magnate Juan Luis Bosch in a conversation with EconCouns. ARENA is the political model the SPO is emulating, including its support for Berger and the PAN, and resuscitating the local pro-private sector think tank FUNDESA as a copy of El Salvador's FUSADES. Bosch paid for Noguera's participation in CACIF's general annual assembly a year ago, which was orchestrated around presentations by Noguera y Associates that purported, by "scientific" and "objective" criteria, to show that the PAN was the only option for right-thinking Guatemalans. End Note. Berger Campaign Worried About Possible Narco-Financing --------------------------------------------- --------- 6. (C) We met on January 13 with Eduardo Gonzalez, Berger's campaign manager, at his request. Gonzalez is worried that the Berger campaign will be offered financing from dubious sources that might have links to illegal activities, and asked for Embassy assistance in "vetting" contributors. We informed Gonzalez that the Embassy can not vet their campaign contributors, and urged the PAN to check out campaign contributors locally, as their supporters in distant areas were likely to know who is a druggie and who isn't, and to just say "no" if they have any doubts. 7. (C) Gonzalez also said that Berger is worried about how to limit the influence of organized crime in their government. We responded that the key is appointing honest, reliable, incorruptible Ministers of Government and Defense, passing effective conspiracy legislation, and pressing the Courts and Public Ministry for results. Gonzalez said that Berger is determined to carry out a profound reform of the military, but that he would want USG advice in the process. Once in Government, he said, Berger would need counsel from the USG on which officers are close to Ortega Menaldo. Gonzalez added that he is worried about the possible use of violence by organized crime to keep Berger from taking office. Comment ------- 8. (C) The Berger-Lopez Rodas agreement is an important milestone for Berger, who emerges considerably strengthened by the alliance. On January 15 a major national daily supporting Berger reported polls showing Berger way ahead in popular preferences, at 45%, followed by Colom, with 9.7% and the FRG's Rios Montt at only 2.6% (Note: Guatemalan polls are not historically reliable. End Note). A good vice presidential pick would further boost Berger's chances. 9. (C) Berger also emerges from the accord hostage to Lopez Rodas' influence until the election. Lopez Rodas detests Gonzalez, who is widely viewed as the power behind the Berger throne. We suspect that Gonzalez will play a far greater role in a Berger government, should it come about, than Lopez Rodas. Lopez knows that after the election he will be of less value to Berger unless he is able to establish a firm base in Congress for his allies. Gonzalez is not only the architect of Berger's campaign, he is also the guy CACIF and the SPO trusts to keep the next government running in their direction. Hamilton
Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04