US embassy cable - 03GUATEMALA189

AMBASSADOR AND PRESS MAINTAIN PRESSURE ON GOG FOR PROPOSAL TO INVESTIGATE CLANDESTINE GROUPS

Identifier: 03GUATEMALA189
Wikileaks: View 03GUATEMALA189 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Created: 2003-01-23 22:51:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L GUATEMALA 000189 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2013 
TAGS: PHUM, PREL, PINR, KJUS, GT, UN, OAS 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND PRESS MAINTAIN PRESSURE ON GOG FOR 
PROPOSAL TO INVESTIGATE CLANDESTINE GROUPS 
 
REF: A. GUATEMALA 146 
 
     B. GUATEMALA 171 
 
Classified By: Katharine Read, HROff, for reason 1.5 (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: In the days following the Human Rights 
Ombudsman's public presentation of the proposal for a UN-OAS 
led commission to investigate clandestine groups (Ref A)), 
the media has followed up with domestic editorials and 
international endorsements of the idea.  The Ambassador has 
continued to solicit support from the GOG, in both his 
January 17 meeting with Foreign Minister Gutierrez, and his 
January 21 meeting with Finance Minister Weymann (Ref B). 
End Summary. 
 
2. (U) Leading dailies Siglo Veintiuno and El Periodico 
covered the statements made by the Ambassador, the Canadian 
Ambassador, Amnesty International London, and local NGOs in 
support of the proposal.  Siglo Veintiuno directly quoted the 
Ambassador's statement of, "It appears to me to be a very 
good initiative and very well thought-out.  The Commission 
can make a contribution to the strengthening of democracy and 
I hope the Government supports it, because I think it is 
something positive."  The Canadian Ambassador and Amnesty 
International reportedly echoed the Ambassador's sentiment 
and urged the GOG to support the Commission. 
 
3. (U) In a January 20 signed editorial in El Periodico, 
human rights activist Miguel Angel Albizures wrote about the 
hold which clandestine groups exercise over the civilian 
government.  Albizures acknowledged that clandestine groups 
were a pre-FRG phenomenon, but that the situation has 
deteriorated during the Portillo administration, despite 
Portillo's campaign promises to end the insecurity and 
delinquency affecting Guatemalans.  Albizures reiterated the 
human rights community sentiment that 'enough is enough' and 
urged the GOG to "open its eyes, even though it is in the 
final stretch of its disastrous governance."  He said that 
this proposal would "test Portillo's political will, because 
it is the President who must ask the UN and OAS for this 
Commission." 
 
4. (C) In a January 17 meeting called by Foreign Minister 
Gutierrez to discuss counter-narcotics efforts, the 
Ambassador reiterated his support of the proposal to 
Gutierrez and Ministers of Defense and Interior.  The 
Ambassador urged the GOG to give the proposal its full 
support and said that this would be a credible way in which 
they could demonstrate their commitment to reform.  Gutierrez 
agreed that the presence of clandestine groups was alarming 
and said that he came to similar conclusions during his time 
at the SAE, when he produced a report on clandestine groups. 
However, Gutierrez mentioned that he believed any 
investigation should be geared towards a fact-finding 
exposition rather than an evidence-gathering prosecution. 
Gutierrez also spoke (vaguely) of the need to move ahead "at 
the right political moment."  The Ambassador responded that 
there was no better moment than the present. 
 
5. (C) On January 21, the Ambassador spoke with Finance 
Minister Eduardo Weymann, an FRG inner circle member, about 
human rights, CAFTA, and counternarcotics efforts.  He said 
that the USG was giving the proposal firm public support and 
suggested it would behoove the GOG to back the effort to 
establish a commission to investigate clandestine groups. 
Weymann responded that Vice President Reyes would lead the 
FRG's policy on the proposal and that Reyes was already in 
contact with Helen Mack about this and other threats against 
human rights workers. 
 
6. (C) Also on January 21, Congress passed a resolution 
proposed by opposition congresswoman Nineth Montenegro to 
urge Portillo to accept the proposal to investigate 
clandestine groups.  The resolution passed with the support 
of 90 deputies, including members of the FRG.  In response to 
public and private pressure for executive action, Portillo 
and Gutierrez announced on January 22 that they had invited 
Human Rights Watch Director Jose Miguel Vivanco to facilitate 
the discussion between the Ombudsman, human rights NGOs, and 
the GOG on the mandate of the proposed Commission.  (NOTE: 
Vivanco is a long-time friend of Gutierrez, and his 
objectivity has been questioned by some.  We know Vivanco, 
however, and believe his involvement can be helpful.) Human 
rights groups are concerned that this may be a ploy on behalf 
of the GOG to hijack the Commission, but are refraining from 
public comment until they collectively decide how to proceed. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT: We are pleased by the continued press 
coverage of the proposal.  We will maintain the high-level 
dialogue on the proposal by raising it in press statements 
and in meetings with other GOG officials.  End Comment. 
Hamilton 

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