|04GUATEMALA1573||2004-06-25 13:36:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Guatemala|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUATEMALA 001573
1. (SBU) Summary: The Ambassador and Embassy anti-TIP team
met with the Government of Guatemala inter-institutional
group to combat TIP on June 22 to formally present the 2004
TIP report and urge continued progress combating TIP. The
GOG's reaction to the release of the 2004 Trafficking in
Persons Report was generally positive, although VP Stein
publicly differed with the unilateral nature of the report's
judgments. The Ambassador conveyed Action Plan areas we hope
to see progress in the remainder of 2004 and briefed the
group on the Watch List interim report due in six months.
MFA VM for Migration and Human Rights, Marta Altolaguirre,
reaffirmed the Berger Government's commitment to combat TIP
and described the GOG's new National Strategy against TIP and
Alien Smuggling and Victims Assistance. The strategy will be
refined over coming weeks by a series of working groups, and
will be presented with a request for funding assistance to
the international donor community. For our part, as we
pressed the GOG for "actions, not words," we were once again
in the awkward position of reporting "no decisions yet" on
GOG funding requests. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Action Request: Embassy requests G/TIP support for
pending project assistance for Guatemala to strengthen
prosecutions and support GOG victims assistance efforts. End
3. (U) This was the Ambassador's fourth meeting with the
inter-institutional group, organized at our request. The GOG
included 44 representatives from institutions from all three
branches of government: high-level officials from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vice Minister of Government,
the Supreme Court acting president, the director general of
the Secretariat for Social Welfare, the Director General of
the Immigration; and the governor of the province of
Guatemala. Officials from the National Civilian Police,
Presidential Secretariat of Strategic Analysis, Secretariat
for Women, Solicitor General's Office, and Department of
Labor also attended. This was the first time the GOG invited
an NGO (ECPAT) to attend; the IOM was also represented, as
in a previous meeting. The Ambassador was accompanied by the
DCM, TIPCoord, HROff, PAOff, DHSOff, and an AID
4. (U) In press outreach prior to the meeting TIPCoord and
DHSOff credited the Berger government for its new commitments
to combat TIP, which merited its inclusion in the Tier II
Watch List. Some political sensitivities remain on the GOG
side, however, as demonstrated by VP Stein's public statement
criticizing unilateral USG judgment of other countries'
performance on this and other issues. VM Altolaguirre
publicly welcomed the report, cited the urgent need to
strengthen weak statutes against TIP-related crimes, and
stated that due to resource constraints, the GOG will request
international assistance to help victims.
5. (SBU) Vice Minister Altolaguirre opened the meeting and
after introductions described the advances made by the GOG
since the last bilateral meeting in February, including:
-- Guatemala deposited the instruments of ratification of the
TIP and Alien Smuggling Protocols of the Palermo Convention
in the UN on April 1.
-- The GOG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico
to the Protection of Women and Minor Victims of TIP and Alien
Smuggling on the Guatemala-Mexico border.
-- The Directorate of Migration has entered into an agreement
with the National Immigration Institute of Mexico for the
Dignified, Secure and Ordered Overland Repatriation of
-- On March 9, the Section for Crimes of TIP was created in
the Criminal Investigative Service of the National Civilian
-- There are two proposals before Congress to broaden and
stiffen sanctions against TIP and TIP-related crimes. The
government is considering developing an integrated proposal
for comprehensive reform of the penal code.
-- Since March, eleven joint operations (involving police,
prosecutors, and immigration officials) have been carried out
nationwide, with 217 women deported, two arrest warrants
issued against nightclub owners, and 12 minors rescued from
prostitution. Prosecutors reported that five sentences have
been issued against traffickers for the crime of pimping
minors; the prosecutor's office has appealed one so far,
seeking a stronger sanction. (Note: Prosecutors earlier
reported 23 cases opened against 17 individuals for
TIP-related crimes.) Police reported that in Guatemala City
this year, there have been 306 detentions of foreign
prostitutes (102 Hondurans, 97 Salvadorans, 96 Nicaraguans,
five Brazilians, three Russians, one Costa Rican, and one
Mexican; 25 people arrested for TIP-related crimes; and 10
minors rescued from prosecution.
-- The government will open a shelter specifically for
integrated attention and social reintegration of victims of
sexual exploitation in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango province,
which will have a capacity for 80 victims.
-- The Secretariat of Social Welfare has developed a
publicity campaign to prevent commercial sexual exploitation,
with help from the Secretariat of Social Communication and
from private sources.
-- The Government has created a National Commission to Combat
Sexual Exploitation of Minors and Adolescents, to implement
its National Plan with the same goal.
-- the GOG has developed a National Strategy Against TIP,
Alien Smuggling and to Assist Victims.
6. (SBU) The goal of the National Strategy is to strengthen
the capacity of the government to combat TIP and alien
smuggling through coordinated efforts of government,
international aid agencies and civil society. The strategy
includes eight priority areas, as follows: legislation,
prosecution and sanction, prevention, training, legal
protection (of victims), information (sharing), and
assistance to victims. Goals have been developed for each
area, and a sub-grouping of members of the
inter-institutional group has been assigned responsibility to
elaborate activities under each thematic area to achieve
these goals (in addition, NGOs are to be invited to
participate in the working group on victims assistance).
Next steps include development and approval of a
comprehensive Action Plan, which will be presented to
international aid agencies with a request for financing.
Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the plan will
follow. General coordination of these efforts will remain in
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will be advised by the
International Organization for Migration (IOM).
7. (SBU) Immigration DirGen Oscar Cordoba emphasized the
importance of the new accord with Mexico on dignified return,
which will return Central American deportees from Mexico
(over 160,000 last year, more than half of whom were
non-Guatemalan, and increasing) to cities inside their
countries of origin. This will cut down on Guatemala's TIP
problem which was exacerbated by Mexico's former practice of
leaving deportees at Guatemala's border, where many fell
victim of TIP. Cordoba said the Directorate General of
Immigration had radically changed its focus under his
leadership toward respecting the human rights of migrants and
assisting victims, and working in a coordinated fashion with
prosecutors and police in operations. He said the GOG is
considering granting amnesty to "regularize" illegal migrants
currently in Guatemala and would be seeking advice on how to
implement such an amnesty program from the U.S. and Mexico.
8. (U) The Ambassador thanked the GOG for its efforts, and
noted that the recently-issued USG TIP report reflects our
view that the GOG is committed to addressing this problem.
The reports contrasts the performance of the current
government with the previous one, and took note of the
memorandum of understanding with Mexico, stepped-up
operations to rescue victims. The Tier II rating reflects
USG confidence in the GOG's commitment; its inclusion in the
Watch List requires us to update progress made implementing
these commitments within six months and so gives Guatemala
the opportunity to improve its standing. The Ambassador
described ongoing USAID support to an NGO providing shelter
and vocational training to over 100 victims and potential
victims of TIP in Tecun Uman on the Mexican border, and said
we hope to hear soon about additional USAID funding to build
on this project. DOJ specialized anti-TIP training will be
offered in Guatemala, currently scheduled for October (Note:
since advanced to August). He said we are also considering
ways to support the work of the anti-TIP prosecution unit.
Finally, the Ambassador praised the GOG's planned prevention
campaign, and offered Embassy technical assistance in
9. (U) After praising the GOG's anti-TIP strategy the
Ambassador requested that the GOG keep the Embassy informed
over the next six months of:
--progress on rescues, arrests, prosecutions and sentences in
the next six months; he requested the GOG to designate an
official who might provide these statistics.
--collaboration with NGOs including Casa Alianza.
--any GOG estimates of the number of foreign sex workers
resident in Guatemala. (DirGen Cordoba pledged to look into
--prosecution of a corrupt police official arrested for
kidnapping and TIP-related crimes. (VM of Government Angel
Conte hinted there would be further revelations in this case.
Press reported on June 24 that the arrested official is also
being charged with involvement in a car theft ring. Note:
kidnapping, car theft and prostitution rings are mainstays,
with narcotics trafficking, of organized crime here.
--progress in implementation of GOG collaboration with Mexico
--progress of legislative reforms.
10. (U) The Ambassador also suggested to Altolaguirre that
the GOG build on this cooperation with Mexico by establishing
a direct bilateral TIP information exchange mechanism with
the governments of Ecuador, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El
Salvador and Nicaragua. In response to a query from VM
Altolaguirre, the Ambassador encouraged the GOG to keep USG
TIP officials informed through regular visits to Washington.
11. (SBU) The comprehensive planning and effort that went
into the GOG presentation and strategy document is impressive
and reflect the GOG's political will to combat trafficking in
persons and is a good faith effort to seriously address
trafficking. In addition to the commitments expressed by the
inter-institutional group, that political will has repeatedly
been expressed by President Berger, Vice President Stein, and
Foreign Minister Briz in meetings with the Ambassador. The
GOG is facing immense budgetary constraints and competing
demands on the revenue base it is working hard to expand. In
this context we believe it essential to offer USG support
where possible and look forward to early decisions from USAID
and G/TIP on our funding requests. It has become
increasingly awkward to press the GOG for "actions, not
words" while we have so far offered only words, not actions,
on their requests for funding on victims assistance (USAID)
and aid to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Women