US embassy cable - 03GUATEMALA218

TOUR D'HORIZON WITH PRESIDENTIAL PRE-CANDIDATE ALVARO COLOM

Identifier: 03GUATEMALA218
Wikileaks: View 03GUATEMALA218 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Created: 2003-01-28 13:35:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PINR SNAR PHUM ETRD 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 GUATEMALA 000218 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2013 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, SNAR, PHUM, ETRD, GT 
SUBJECT: TOUR D'HORIZON WITH PRESIDENTIAL PRE-CANDIDATE 
ALVARO COLOM 
 
Classified By: PolCouns David E. Lindwall for reason 1.5 (d). 
 
1. (C) At a January 24 breakfast meeting with the Ambassador, 
presidential pre-candate Alvaro Colom of the center-left 
Union for National Hope Party (UNE) said that the main 
challenge for the winner in this year's presidential election 
will be to jump-start the economy and to shut down the 
transnational criminal mafias that currently have so much 
influence in the government.  He said that he would be 
meeting with PAN presidential pre-candidate Oscar Berger 
later that day to begin talks on an agreement to make these 
the focus of their common campaign against the ruling FRG. 
Colom dismissed rumors of his joining forces with the PAN 
during the first round of the election, but said that a 
second round alliance is already being discussed.  Colom 
believes he currently has 17% of the vote, though polls we 
have seen show him at between 5% and 12%.  Colom does not 
expect electoral fraud on voting day to be significant, but 
believes the FRG is already "stacking the deck" by wooing the 
ex-PAC's and others with irresponsible financial promises. 
 
2. (C) The Ambassador told Colom that we share his concerns 
over the influence of organized crime as well as his interest 
in promoting economic growth.  The Ambassador discussed our 
support for the idea of setting up a commission, under the 
auspices of the UN/OAS, to investigate the operations of 
"clandestine groups."  He noted that we look forward to 
working with the winner of the next election to curb the 
influence of these transnational criminal mafias.  The 
Ambassador said that the best hope for reducing poverty in 
the region was the successful negotiation of a free trade 
agreement between Central America and the United States.  A 
free trade agreement would meet opposition from sectors of 
U.S. society concerned about the situation of human and labor 
rights in Guatemala, the lack of resolution of the cases of 
11 Amcits murdered since 1999 and the lack of cooperation in 
the war against drugs.  It is critical that there be 
significant progress in these areas before CAFTA can be 
concluded.  Colom agreed, and said that his party is a big 
supporter of CAFTA (Note: In private life, Colom is an 
apparel exporter. End note). 
 
3. (C) Comment:  Colom won 20% of the vote in the 1999 
elections and, despite the subsequent fracturing of 
Guatemala's left, continues to have significant popular 
support.  It is too early to guess whether his movement can 
make it into the second round of elections, but at a minimum 
the votes of his supporters will be critical in a tightly 
fought race. 
Hamilton 

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