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Wikileaks Guatemala: US Ambassador Predicts Upcoming Presidential Elections “Will Feature Much Mud-Slinging”

April 18, 2011

Current Guatemalan presidential candidate, Otto Pérez Molina, and his running mate, Roxana Baldetti, of the Partido Patriota (Patriot Party, PP) have met with Ambassador McFarland at least twice since Pérez Molina’s failed 2007 presidential campaign. The contents of these meetings were revealed in Wikileaks cables released on 14 April in El País.

Otto Pérez Molina and Roxana Baldetti. Photo courtesy of Prensa Libre.

In a section of 08GUATEMALA1163, subtitled “Not Me,” Baldettti defended Pérez Molina against charges that he, too, was involved in the financial scandals that have beset Congress in recent years. Approximately $11.2 million is missing from Congress’s accounts. Baldetti stated that the personal loan Pérez Molina received from MDF, a private investment firm involved in the scandal, was not at all connected to Congress’s missing funds. Additionally, she characterized the Superintendency of Banks’ revelation of the existence of such a loan as “a politically motivated smear campaign.” McFarland commented to the State Department that “Perez’s loan from MDF manager Giron reportedly was drawn against the same account into which Congress’ funds were deposited, leaving some to doubt his assertion that he had nothing to do with the ongoing finance scandal.”

A second cable, 10GUATEMALA49, from 22 February 2010, contains additional information about the PP’s belief that there is an orchestrated campaign against Pérez Molina, led by then-First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom. Pérez Molina believed that Gloria Porras, elected to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court in March 2011, and Secretary of Peace Orlando Blanco were also involved. Additionally, Pérez Molina also stated that Colom would, at his wife’s request, name Porras as Attorney General. This move, Pérez Molina argued, would “politicize the Attorney General’s Office and guarantee impunity for the First Family.”

Pérez Molina told McFarland that Torres de Colom and Porras were working together to “develop specious embezzlement charges that would falsely implicate him in the congressional MDF embezzlement scandal.” As for Blanco, Pérez Molina accused him of “coaching” indigenous residents of the Department of Quiche’, where Pérez Molina served as commander of an army detachment in the 1980s, to make false claims against him. Specifically, Pérez Molina believed that “Blanco was preparing a false accusation that Perez Molina had personally murdered an entire indigenous family.” McFarland did not comment on these accusations other than to inform the State Department that in the 2007 presidential elections, Pérez Molina’s human rights record was scoured by opponents who “were never able to develop evidence of wrongdoing.”

At the same time, Pérez Molina declared that he was confident that he would win the 2011 elections, possibly even on the first round. Speaking of Pérez Molina’s possible opponents in the elections, Baldetti stated that neither GANA’s Alejandro Giammattei nor VIVA’s Harold Caballeros had a chance of advancing to the second round, if one were necessary. She also commented in an aside that Manuel Baldizón, of Líder, was a “charlatan and criminal.” While Pérez Molina mentioned the slim chance that the governing UNE (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza, National Unity of Hope) may select the “popular” President of Congress, Roberto Alejos, as their candidate, Baldetti spoke of Sandra Torres de Colom, the UNE’s more likely candidate. She stated that the UNE seemed to believe it could overcome the constitutional ban on the president’s family members running for the presidency, but had not yet accomplished this feat. Baldetti suggested that the government’s control of the courts would be key in this, but that it would cause much controversy.

Pérez Molina and Baldetti also spoke critically about the Mi Familia Progresa cash transfer program, headed by Torres de Colom. In the 16 September 2008 cable, Baldetti stated that the program had devolved into simply providing “handouts without providing accompanying incentives for self-help.” It was, she said, “fomenting a culture of dependency among its recipients.” She remained critical of the program in 2010, stating that the “program has divided poor rural communities into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; it’s actually somewhat dangerous.” However, when asked if he would vow to continue the program, Pérez Molina “smiled wryly and said ‘I’ll have to.'”

In his comments to the State Department, McFarland concluded that the 2011 election “will feature much mud-slinging.” He described Pérez Molina as the candidate to beat and that, as the “former head of military intelligence, Perez Molina is no babe in the woods, and will surely do his share of the slinging.”

The 2011 presidential campaign is heating up in Guatemala. It remains to be seen, however, if Pérez Molina’s confidence in his victory was misplaced and if McFarland comments about him will prove to be accurate.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 8:35 pm

    What a silly thing, is what they do with goberment. I am so bored of this. We need someone like Eduardo Suger, that will make this thing better.

  2. luz permalink
    June 21, 2011 8:17 pm

    SUGER VA A GANAR SE LOS ASEGURO EN UN 100% ESTAS SELECCIONES PROXIMAS POR VENIR

  3. jorge soto permalink
    September 7, 2011 1:11 am

    Votemos por suger mucha!!! Ojala no quede este delincuente de +Otto P.

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  1. Guatemala’s struggle against impunity, and a glimpse into the diplomatic black box | Cascadia Solidaria

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