|Wikileaks:||View 03GUATEMALA139 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||KCOR KCRM SNAR PREL PGOV 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.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUATEMALA 000139 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR INL/C: RIGGS AND WERKSMAN, WHA/PPC: HAMANN, AND WHA/USOAS: STICKLES. E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KCOR, KCRM, SNAR, PREL, PGOV, GT SUBJECT: THIRD ANNUAL CORRUPTION REPORT - GUATEMALA REF: 02 STATE 239506 1. Summary: Guatemala made limited progress in 2002 in implementing its commitments under the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. The primary obstacle to greater progress was the lack of effective leadership on the part of the Executive in fighting corruption, and the political polarization that heightened confrontation between the GOG and its growing number of critics. Transparency International rated Guatemala near the bottom (81st out of 102 countries) of its annual review of public perceptions of corruption. On October 10, 2002, then-WHA Assistant Secretary Otto Reich testified to the U.S. Congress that SIPDIS corruption has increased under the Portillo Administration and had become the primary impediment to the strengthening of democracy in Guatemala. Guatemala's cooperation in the war on drugs also fell to historically low levels in 2002, in large part due to pervasive corruption. End Summary. Accomplishments by the Government of Guatemala --------------------------------------------- - 2. There were a limited number of successes in the GOG's efforts to control corruption in 2002. Congress passed two important pieces of legislation which make it easier to prosecute government officials for corruption. Both laws will come into force in early 2003. Several other transparency measures were proposed in Congress, including whistle-blower protections and a mechanism for the participation of civil society auditing government expenditures, but Congress had not passed these bills by the end of the year. One of the most concrete accomplishments in 2002 was the implementation of currency declaration forms at the International Airport. This initiative, which was intended to help implement new money laundering legislation, made it possible for the GOG to prosecute individuals who attempt to bring into the country or out of it more that 10,000 USD without declaring the funds to customs officials. While there have been no convictions yet, numerous arrests have been made and several cases are going forward to prosecution. The measure creates a significant disincentive for money laundering. 3. A further potential accomplishment was the announcement by the Attorney General's Office that investigations had been opened into the activities of five former military officers who are believed to be involved in organized crime -- all of the individuals are believed to have ties to senior GOG officials. The GOG also announced in 2002 the establishment of an ambitious National Anti-Corruption Plan which it drafted in coordination with World Bank experts. This project has not yet advanced significantly. Another accomplishment was the disbanding of the special counter-narcotics police (the DOAN) in the wake of extra-judicial killings and mounting evidence that the DOAN was engaged in selling seized drugs. One of the most promising recent accomplishments was the GOG's naming of a blue-ribbon Transparency Commission composed of several respected members of civil society. GOG efforts to manipulate the commission, however, have led to threats by several members to resign and have brought into question the efficacy of the commission. Accomplishments of Civil Society -------------------------------- 4. Civil society was an active player in the anti-corruption debate in Guatemala in 2002. Some civil society actors were motivated by their focus on strengthening the democratic institutions and processes of the state, and others by a more partisan interest in discrediting a government whose levels of corruption have been higher than Guatemalans are used to. The primary accomplishment of civil society groups in anti-corruption efforts in 2002 has been to keep the issue of government corruption in public view, primarily through use of the news media. This initiative has helped overcome traditionally high levels of apathy on the part of the general population. Press coverage of corruption scandals was relentless. In February, the "Foro Guatemala," a civil society organization encompassing representatives of most organized sectors of Guatemalan society, held a major conference on the effects of corruption. The results of several studies were compiled and released with great fanfare. The theme of the conference has not had the expected resonance among the population, however, and shortly after the conference a national opinion poll found that only 41% of Guatemalans agreed that acts of corruption should be denounced when detected. A banking scandal involving shell corporations in Panama established in the names of the President and Vice President, among others, resulted in the formation of a loose coalition of small political parties and civil society leaders known as the Civic Movement Aganist Corruption ("Moviemento Civico Contra la Corrupcion"). The movement did not take root, however, when they failed to mobilize significant participation in anti-corruption protests on the Presidential Palace to demand the resignation of the President and Vice President. Hamilton
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