|Wikileaks:||View 03GUATEMALA218 at Wikileaks.org|
|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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