Viewing cable 03GUATEMALA1815

03GUATEMALA18152003-07-15 22:15:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 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.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 193839 
¶1.  (SBU) Summary:  In response to RefTel, on July 7, the 
Ambassador and visiting G/TIP Program Officer Greg Holliday 
met with an inter-governmental group including the Minister 
of Government, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice 
Minister of Labor, Secretary of Social Welfare, a Supreme 
Court magistrate and other GOG officials to share the 
Department's 2003 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report 
findings and to request stepped-up GOG collaboration to 
combat trafficking in persons.  GOG participants described 
ongoing efforts to combat trafficking and alien smuggling and 
announced the formation of a GOG commission to follow-up on 
issues included in the TIP report.  The Embassy plans to 
follow-up on this result by developing and implementing a 
comprehensive anti-TIP strategy and continuing to encourage 
GOG attention to this issue.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (U) G/TIP Program Officer Greg Holliday visited Guatemala 
July 7-9 and met with the Embassy's anti-TIP working group, 
the GOG, locally-based NGOs and IOs working on anti-TIP, and 
visited NGO victims assistance projects on the 
Guatemalan-Mexican border at Tecun Uman.  Holliday also met 
with Embassy NAS staff and the GOG's Secretary of Social 
Welfare to discuss the results of an earlier G/TIP-funded 
project; met with the main opposition candidate's campaign 
advisor on social issues; discussed USG anti-TIP efforts with 
participants in a Vital Voices leadership workshop; and gave 
an interview to the leading daily "Prensa Libre." 
¶3.  (U) Guatemala is rated a Tier II country in the 
Department's 2003 TIP report.  The GOG acknowledges TIP as a 
growing problem and is taking steps to combat it.   The 
Embassy organized the bilateral meeting to take advantage of 
Holliday's visit and the publication of the TIP report to 
increase GOG understanding of and will to combat trafficking 
in persons. 
¶4.  (U) The GOG responded enthusiastically to our request to 
the MFA for an inter-governmental meeting on this subject. 
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabriel Aguilera hosted the 
meeting, and the following GOG officials attended: 
-- Supreme Court Magistrate Napoleon Gutierrez 
-- Minister of Government Dr. Jose Adolfo Reyes Calderon 
-- Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance Dr. Julio 
Molina Aviles 
-- Vice Minister of Labor Sandra Mendez de Arevalo 
-- Secretary of Social Welfare Marilys Barrientos de Estrada 
-- Director General of Migration, Oscar Contreras Hernandez 
-- MFA Director of Bilateral Affairs, Sara Solis Castaneda 
-- MFA Human Rights Advisor Mario Rene Cifuentes 
The Ambassador and Mr. Holliday were accompanied by Acting 
PolCouns (Embassy TIP Coordinator) and PolIntern. 
USG Pitch 
¶5.  (SBU) The Ambassador acknowledged that trafficking in 
persons is a serious problem in the U.S., and appealed for 
GOG cooperation to fight this scourge.  He explained the 
difference between trafficking in persons and alien 
smuggling.  Holliday described how the USG is tackling the 
problem in the U.S. domestically (through inter-governmental 
coordination) and abroad.  He explained the findings of the 
TIP report on Guatemala and the implications of a Tier II and 
III rankings.  Holliday described G/TIP and USG programs 
worldwide totaling $55 million in 2002 to combat trafficking, 
and gave examples of means to address prevention, assistance 
to victims, and law enforcement to catch and prosecute 
¶6.  (SBU) Holliday praised Guatemala's National Action Plan 
to Combat Sexual Commercial Exploitation of Children and 
Adolescents as a good first step and asked how implementation 
of the plan was proceeding.  He said that governments benefit 
from the expertise of IOs and NGOs working to assist victims 
of trafficking, such as the IOM and ILO and Casa Alianza in 
Central America.  He asked to hear about best practices being 
implemented to combat trafficking in Guatemala, and gave an 
example of a best practice in Nicaragua, where police visit 
schools to increase awareness of children to the risks of 
TIP.  Holliday urged GOG immigration authorities not to treat 
victims of trafficking as illegal migrants.  Instead, victims 
should be interviewed to develop investigations into 
trafficking rings, and provided assistance.  Deportation of 
victims does not solve the problem, he said, if the 
trafficker goes free.  He noted GOG efforts to combat and 
punish corruption and welcomed the start of a bilateral 
dialogue on TIP. 
¶7.  (SBU) After hearing the GOG presentations (see below) the 
Ambassador emphasized the need to implement concrete actions 
to combat TIP.  He urged a re-examination of the National 
Action Plan and Guatemalan laws to combat TIP.  Holliday said 
that efforts to combat alien smuggling can be adapted to 
combat TIP.  The hundreds of Guatemalans being deported from 
Mexico every day, for example, could be interviewed by 
Guatemalan authorities to determine if they are victims of 
GOG Presentations:  Confusing TIP with Alien Smuggling 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
¶8.  (SBU) DirGen of Immigration Contreras described the 
number of Salvadoran and Honduran undocumented migrants 
deported by Guatemala (36,917 in the first six months of this 
year), the number of people charged with migration crimes 
during that period (54) and the number of buses used to 
transport deportees to their countries.  Contreras said 
President Portillo is concerned about the lack of border 
control and lack of prevention of alien smuggling and 
corruption; he then described GOG efforts to change the 
situation since 2001, including Contreras' appointment as 
"intervenor" of the Migration Directorate.  117 migration 
officials have been discharged for corruption, nine have been 
charged, and 64 have been subject to disciplinary actions in 
the migration directorate, including some directors of the 
directorate's union.  He said that he had received threats 
linked to the case of union corruption. 
¶9.  (SBU) Continuing, Contreras said national Immigration 
Service computer networks have been established where they 
did not exist.  The Directorate is now much better equipped 
to detect false documents and has created a "blacklist," 
including information on terrorists and a national 
immigration database.  The Directorate has received 
assistance from the USG and the governments of Mexico and 
Taiwan to upgrade its capabilities.  The Directorate has 
cooperative relations with many Embassy sections, he said, 
and helped in cases involving the smuggling of 50 Salvadoran 
children to the U.S. and in the arrest of the ringleader 
responsible for 18 recent smuggling deaths in Texas.  He 
cited cooperative efforts and accords with Mexico to 
modernize border crossing posts.  He said that he is willing 
to cooperate with NGOs like Casa Alianza, but said "they 
sometimes exaggerate and criticize our efforts to protect the 
human rights of victims." 
¶10.  (SBU) In conclusion, Contreras said the Directorate 
cooperates with the MFA on visa matters to avoid corruption 
and said, under orders of the President, there are no 
"political or military appointees in Immigration."  Since 
9/11, the GOG has tightened up immigration procedures across 
the board, he said.  He cited measure taken at the Aurora 
International Airport in Guatemala City to tighten ingress, 
and provided a report entitled "Results of Intervention, 
December 2001-June 2003." 
¶11.  (SBU) MFA Human Rights Advisor Mario Rene Cifuentes said 
the GOG takes the problem of trafficking, which is really a 
modern form of slavery, very seriously.  He proposed that 
this meeting be considered the start of a bilateral process 
or dialogue on TIP.  In a formal presentation, Cifuentes 
described the GOG's efforts to address the problem 
bilaterally and regionally, including: 
-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Group on Immigration Issues 
-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Study on Immigration 
-- the GOG-GOM Ad Hoc Group on Temporary Agricultural Workers 
-- the GOG-GOM High-Level Group on Border Security 
-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Group on Ports and Border Services 
-- similar bi-national efforts with El Salvador and 
-- the Pilot Project on Temporary Agricultural Workers with 
-- Guatemala's pending request for a trilateral meeting on 
migration between the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala, made at the 
Regional Conference on Migration in Antigua in May 2002. 
(Note:  the Embassy facilitated a meeting of the US, 
Guatemalan and Mexican delegations to the Conference at GOG 
request.  At that time, USdel officials and the Mexicans 
offered to return to Guatemala at a later date to share 
lessons learned from US border control on the US-Mexican 
border, and US-Mexican cooperative efforts to combat alien 
smuggling.  That meeting has not taken place but would 
clearly still be welcomed by the GOG.  End Note.) 
-- the Regional Conference on Migration 
-- the Central American Commission of Directors of 
Cifuentes then listed international conventions Guatemala is 
party to related to TIP, including: 
-- the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking 
in Persons, signed and pending in Congress 
-- The UN Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant 
Workers and their Families (ratified March 14, 2003) 
-- Numerous ILO Conventions, including Convention 182 on the 
Worst Forms of Child Labor 
-- the Hague Convention on Adoptions 
Finally, Cifuentes described inter-institutional efforts to 
address issues related to TIP, including: 
-- the National Immigration Commission 
-- the National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons 
(formed in June 2003 to follow-up issues identified in the 
Department's 2003 TIP report.) 
-- the proposed National Commission Against Commercial Sexual 
Exploitation of Children and Adolescents 
-- various port and border crossing security commission and 
border consulate meetings 
¶12.  (SBU) Supreme Court justice Gutierrez acknowledged the 
need for new legislation to combat TIP, and said the 
judiciary is developing reforms to strengthen the penal code 
that includes TIP.  He distanced the judiciary from the role 
of public prosecutors, saying the role of the judiciary is to 
judge, not to investigate.  He cited the need for control 
over civil registries to combat undocumented migration, the 
use of mobile courts to try traffickers, and better control 
over the issuance of visas. 
Victims Assistance Efforts 
¶13.  (SBU) Turning to victims assistance, Immigration 
Director Contreras cited GOG efforts to provide 45 
recently-apprehended smuggling victims from Ecuador with 
shelter and medicines.  One of Contreras' assistants added 
that a project exists in cooperation with the IOM to 
interview Guatemalan deportees from Mexico to determine if 
they were victims of trafficking.  Contreras said his 
Directorate has proposed training police in humane treatment 
of victims, will construct a medical clinic for victims, and 
will continue to practice direct repatriation of aliens to 
avoid problems experienced in the past of mistreatment and 
corruption in holding centers. 
¶14.  (SBU) Social Welfare Secretary Barrientos said that 
legislation is pending in Congress to ratify the Trafficking 
in Persons Protocol and also to create a National Commission 
to Combat Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and 
Adolescents, which would implement the National Action Plan. 
The Commission would be comprised of all GOG institutions 
involved in combating trafficking, as well as NGOs.  The 
Secretariat operates four shelters for child victims of abuse 
referred by the courts.  Victims of trafficking referred by 
the courts have access to these shelters.  (There are 
currently approximately 100 children in each of these 
shelters and 300 more children in selected private homes, she 
said at a subsequent meeting.)  In 2002, the Secretariat 
assisted 37 victims of trafficking, and in the first six 
months of 2003 there have been 16.  The issue of trafficking 
will be introduced to secondary schools in a 24 hour module, 
and there are plans to extend education efforts to the 
primary level to reach those most vulnerable to becoming TIP 
¶15.  (SBU) Health Minister Molina described his Ministry's 
efforts to provide health services to migrant workers and 
deportees in three GOG shelters and at the Casa del Migrante 
(an NGO) on the border and in the capital. 
¶16.  (SBU) Vice Minister of Labor Mendez cited Ministry of 
Labor cooperation with the ILO's Program To Eradicate Child 
Labor (IPEC) in various sectors, and Ministry programs 
designed to help workers succeed in Guatemala.  She cited a 
new temporary labor pilot project with Canada which will 
provide 100 Guatemalans the opportunity to migrate legally to 
earn money for their families, rather than be trafficked. 
She also described the Ministry's role to permit ordered 
temporary migration for Guatemalans to work in Mexico. 
Comment and Action Plan 
¶17.  (SBU) The assembled group of GOG officials had copies of 
the translated TIP report, which we provided in an earlier 
demarche to MFA, and appeared to be familiar with the 
difference between trafficking and alien smuggling.  Their 
responses, however, described efforts to combat the latter 
more than the former.  While there is obviously substantial 
overlap, we will need to continue to emphasize the need for 
concrete steps focused on trafficking. 
¶18.  (SBU) Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the GOG's 
commitment to coordinate its anti-TIP efforts and collaborate 
with us to address this problem.  This is a good first step 
and offers possibilities for future collaboration which we 
hope to capitalize on over the coming year.  By tapping the 
talents of the Embassy's anti-TIP agencies we hope to achieve 
concrete progress on the legal regime, law enforcement, 
victims assistance, and public awareness to combat this 
scourge.  For example, the Embassy will help focus Congress 
on ratification of the UN Protocol to Combat TIP.  We will 
press the Public Ministry (the Attorney General was invited, 
but absent at this meeting) to step up investigations of 
trafficking in the border region (where at least two 
convictions of traffickers were reported several years ago). 
The Social Welfare Secretariat's shelters, which G/TIP has 
supported in the past, offer a good infrastructure for child 
victims, and the Secretariat has requested our help to create 
a new center in Coatepeque (strategically located on the main 
highway route to Mexico) specially geared to helping 
trafficking victims of all ages.  We will evaluate this 
proposal and report further on these possibilities and others 
under discussion with IO and NGO partners in the fight 
against TIP.