|Wikileaks:||View 03GUATEMALA146 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PHUM PREL PINR KJUS GT UN OAS|
|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 000146 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PHUM, PREL, PINR, KJUS, GT, UN, OAS SUBJECT: OMBUDSMAN CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE CLANDESTINE GROUPS REF: A. 02 GUATEMALA 2970 B. GUATEMALA 0127 1. (U) Summary: On January 16, Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales unveiled a proposal for a UN-OAS led commission to investigate clandestine groups (for details on the proposal, see Ref A). The proposal was enthusiastically received by the press, human rights NGOs, and the international community. The Ambassador had previously contacted the President, senior FRG members, the private sector, and the press to urge a favorable response to the proposal. After the presentation, the Ambassador told the press that the USG welcomes the initiative, that we hope the GOG will support it, and that we'll be taking a look at how the USG can support it. End Summary. 2. (U) Sergio Morales, along with his top assistants Maria Eugenia Morales de Sierra and Dunia Illias, invited human rights activists Helen Mack, Frank LaRue, and Orlando Blanco to join him on January 16 to present the proposal for a UN-OAS led commission to investigate clandestine groups. The Ambassador, with other members of the diplomatic and NGO communities, and press, were in attendance and received the announcement with enthusiasm and support. 3. (U) Morales began the press conference by calling on the Government of Guatemala to listen to the human rights groups leading the call for this commission. He said the "moment has come" for the GOG to recognize that there will be no peace in Guatemala until clandestine groups are removed from their positions of power. Morales requested that the President and the Congress authorize a request to the UN creating the commission. 4. (U) Maria Eugenia Morales de Sierra then gave details from the proposal, including a six-month period of investigation, the composition of the investigative team (one UN member, one OAS member, and one notable Guatemalan nominated by the President), and the scope (from January 1996 to the present). Morales de Sierra also mentioned that the findings of the commission could possibly be used to remove the influence of these groups from the government as well as in prosecutions by the Public Ministry. 5. (U) The press appeared initially stunned by the weight of this announcement, and had many questions for the Ombudsman. Members of the press asked what the GOG's, UN's, and OAS's responses were, to which Morales replied that he had not yet received any official responses. The press also asked why they had not heard anything about this proposal before, and Morales said that they were being careful because the existence of clandestine groups is such a grave, but sensitive, issue. 6. (U) LaRue chimed in with thanks for the Ombudsman and a brief explanation that this commission would be carrying on the work of previous investigative commissions, but also would work to end the current cycle of impunity that endangers human rights and justice advocates in Guatemala today. Contradicting Morales, LaRue (and later Mack) also said that while the human rights movement would welcome the congress's ratification of the proposal, only the President's request is necessary for the international community's acceptance and formation of the commission. 7. (U) Mack said UN and OAS involvement would protect the work of the commission. Mack maintained that clandestine groups are powerful mutations of war era power structures and must be removed if Guatemala is ever going to progress. Blanco said that he is worried about the way in which clandestine groups influence weak democratic institutions. 8. (U) The Ambassador informed Mario Polanco, Helen Mack and Frank LaRue of his lobbying efforts in support of the proposal with the government and private sector (Ref B), for which they expressed appreciation. Polanco told HROff that the human rights community was pleased by how strong a backing the Ambassador was giving this initiative. Polanco and Blanco both told HROff that they see the USG as their primary ally in the fight against clandestine groups. -------- Reaction -------- 9. (U) Leading dailies gave prominent coverage to the press conference in their January 17 editions. El Periodico and Prensa Libre carried the Ambassador's statements and Prensa Libre featured front-page pictures of the Ambassador shaking Morales' hand. Siglo Veintiuno showed the Ambassador shaking Mack and LaRue's hands in a front-page photo. 10. (U) The Ambassador was quoted by El Periodico supporting the proposal: "I hope that the government gives its firm backing to this proposal for a commission to investigate clandestine groups. I think it is a terrific initiative that can make a tremendous contribution." 11. (U) Comment: The press conference was a great success, generating attention and public support for the proposal. Although the USG is not providing financial support at this time, our moral support is clearly most welcome. However, some fundamental details, such as the GOG response and role remain unclear. While the proposal came from civil society, the Ombudsman showed leadership by adding his public support and imprimatur. We will continue to look for ways to support the proposal through our public and private diplomacy. End Comment. Hamilton
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