|Wikileaks:||View 03GUATEMALA143 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL PGOV PINR SNAR ETRD CASC KIPR 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 000143 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/17/2013 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, SNAR, ETRD, CASC, KIPR, GT SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES COUNTER-NARCOTICS CERTIFICATION AND CAFTA WITH CONGRESSWOMAN ZURY RIOS Classified By: PolCouns David Lindwall for reason 1.5 (d). 1. (C) Summary: On January 16, the Ambassador and FRG legislator Zury Rios discussed possible counter-narcotics decertification and the importance of securing more effective GOG cooperation in the war on drugs before a free trade agreement is ready to be approved by Congress. Rios said that the FRG strongly supports CAFTA, but said that the lack of counter-narcotics cooperation was the fault of the Executive. She lamented that the timing of decertification will be used by the FRG's opponents to their advantage in the upcoming election. Rios offered to seek the repeal of a recently approved copyright law which represents a major setback for IPR protection, and welcomed a continuing dialogue with the Ambassador on issues affecting the bilateral relationship. End summary. 2. (C). The Ambassador, DCM and PolCouns had breakfast with Zury Rios on January 16 to discuss the full range of bilateral issues. Rios is the Second Vice President of Congress and is the daughter of President of Congress and former military ruler Efrain Rios Montt. Diminished Counter-Narcotics Cooperation ---------------------------------------- 3. (C) The Ambassador told Rios that GOG counter-narcotics cooperation in 2002 had fallen sharply from previous years, and that as a result there is a near certainty that, in the annual exercise mandated by U.S. law, Guatemala will be decertified as a cooperating partner in the war against drugs. He noted that recent achievements increase the possibility that Guatemala will be extended a vital national interests waiver, thus avoiding any sanctions, but that it will be important to get cooperation back on track in order for Guatemala to be re-certified at the semi-annual review in six months. 4. (C) Rios responded with thinly veiled pique that "the United States is the superpower, and it has to do what it has to do." She argued that the timing of decertification was "unfortunate" as it would be seen as a message from the USG during the elections. She said that the media (which is largely anti-Portillo) and the opposition parties would use it against the FRG in the upcoming national election, and lamented that this action had not been taken by the USG in 2002 so that it could have been cleared up before the election season. She then switched tracks, and said that the Guatemalan Executive had brought decertification upon itself, it was solely to blame for the GOG's poor performance in 2002, and she hoped that decertification would get its attention and make it take serious remedial actions. Rios commented that on January 14, Congress (which is dominated by the FRG) had voted unanimously for a resolution calling on President Portillo to fire Minister of Government Reyes Calderon (who has ultimate responsibility for all law enforcement -- including counter-narcotics). While Congress's censure of Reyes Calderon was based on his inability to control spiraling violent crime, Rios was implying that Portillo's choices of ineffective ministers has exposed the FRG to damaging criticism on the public security front in the upcoming elections, and they would not defend Portillo from our criticism of his poor performance on drugs. Free Trade with Central America and the New IPR Law --------------------------------------------- ------ 5. (C) In response to the Ambassador's question about the FRG's view of free trade negotiations between Central America and the US, Rios said that the leaders of the ruling party are unequivocal supporters of CAFTA. She stressed that successful CAFTA negotiations are a high priority for the FRG. The Ambassador said that there are many opponents of free trade in the United States, and that it is important that before any agreement is ready to go to the U.S. Congress, other bilateral issues of interest to American constituencies be successfully addressed, including counter-drug cooperation, justice in the case of murdered Amcits, a cessation to threats against human rights activists and protection of intellectual property rights, among others. 6. (C) The Ambassador told Rios that the USG was concerned over new harmful IPR legislation passed in December, 2002 by the Guatemalan Congress. This law was not vetoed by the President and will become law once published by Congress. Rios commented that she had not voted for the law (note: which was proposed by an opposition congressman, but supported by the majority of FRG legislators), and was unfamiliar with what could be done to correct it at this late stage. She promised to look into it, and later called back to say the FRG would seek the law's repeal as soon as it is published. Investigating the Clandestine Forces ------------------------------------ 7. (C) The Ambassador told Rios that he would attend that same afternoon a press conference held by Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales (septel) in which Morales would call for the creation of an international investigatory commission tasked with uncovering the activities of "clandestine forces." These clandestine groups are believed to be responsible for the rash of threats and attacks against human rights workers in the past five years. The Ambassador asked Rios if the FRG supported Morales's proposal, saying this would be a chance for the party to get on the side of the angels. Rios responded that she was unfamiliar with the proposal, but that the FRG had supported Morales election as Human Rights Ombudsman and they were generally supportive of his work. She said the FRG would review the proposal carefully.. Elections and Reform of the Electoral Code ------------------------------------------ 8. (C) Rios said the FRG has not yet decided who will be their standard bearer in the upcoming presidential election. She added that the FRG is making one more attempt to pass the electoral reform law (which has been in debate for almost two years), and that the FRG had agreed to drop some of the more controversial articles in order to secure opposition support. She said that the law contains a provision which will delay enactment of the law until after the 2003 elections so no one could claim that it was being passed in order to improve the FRG's chances in the upcoming election. Rios commented that the most important reform contained in the law is a provision to move voting booths out into rural locations with more than 500 voters, greatly increasing access to voting for Guatemala's rural poor. (Note: This provision was one of the most controversial, as it was seen by the opposition as favoring the FRG, whose base is largely in rural areas. end note). Comment ------- 9. (C) The meeting was cordial, and Rios clearly wants a good working relationship with the USG, stressing the importance of CAFTA and offering to be helpful on addressing our IPR concerns. While she knows that we are uncomfortable with her father's presidential ambitions (which she skillfully dodged in our conversation), she recognizes that there are too many shared interests for the FRG not to remain fully engaged with us. Hamilton
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