Guatemala Political Party Branded ‘Narco’ by US: WikiLeaks

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The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala classified the political party UCN’s affiliation as “narco,” according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

In the cable, published by Plaza Publica, each of Guatemala’s political parties was categorized according to its perceived political ideology, with now-President Colom’s UNE party classified as “center-left.” The Union of National Change (Union del Cambio Nacional – UCN), however, was bluntly classified as “narco.”

In an earlier cable, the UCN was described as “a small party based in eastern Guatemala reportedly tied to narcotraffickers.” The party, which has a candidate running in this month’s presidential elections, has recently faced further corruption allegations.

Current U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland wrote in a November 2009 cable that in Guatemala “most parties’ platforms/ideologies are weak” adding that, “personalities, personal relationships, pork barrel politics, and at times bribes are more important factors influencing deputies’ affiliations.”

In another recently released cable, dated 2005, Bruce Wharton, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, discussed the anti-drug efforts of the administration of former President Oscar Berger, and the effects of cuts to the army. 

Wharton wrote on February 6, 2005, that the Berger government was “making substantial efforts against corruption” and concluded that cuts to the Guatemalan armed forces had not had a negative impact on drug trafficking, due to corruption within the army. This is at odds with the view of current President Alvaro Colom, who has often cited cuts to the army by his predecessor as a principal factor behind the rise in drug trafficking during his presidency.

Despite some words of praise for the Berger government, Bruce Wharton said that the results of the government’s anti-drug measures were “not encouraging.”

In the years since the cable was written drug trafficking has increased dramatically in Guatemala with some, including Colom, warning that the country could be become a “narco-state.”

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