Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Huffington’s Plunder

(This piece by journalist and author Chris Hedges is perhaps the best article that I have yet read on the scandalous and rapacious practices that are killing real journalism these days. As Hedges writes, "this latest form of 'liberal' exploitation exposes yet again the liberal class for who they really are—opportunists whose operating methods are as callous as those used in running the textile mills in southern China." Well said, Mr. Hedges. MD)

Huffington’s Plunder

Please read the original article here.

Posted on Feb 21, 2011

By Chris Hedges

I was in New York City on Thursday night at the Brecht Forum to discuss with the photographer Eugene Richards his powerful new book “War Is Personal” when I was approached for an interview by a blogger for The Huffington Post. I had just finished speaking with another blogger who had recently graduated from UC Berkeley.

These encounters, which are frequent at public events, break my heart. I see myself in the older bloggers, many of whom worked for newspapers until they took buyouts or were laid off, as well as in the aspiring reporters. These men and women love the trade. They want to make a difference. They have the integrity not to sell themselves to public relations firms or corporate-funded propaganda outlets. And they keep at it, the way true artists, musicians or actors do, although there are dimmer and dimmer hopes of compensation. They are victims of a dying culture, one that no longer values the talents that would keep it healthy and humane. The corporate state remunerates corporate management and public relations. It lavishes money on the celebrities who provide the fodder for our national mini-dramas. But those who deal with the bedrock virtues of truth, justice and beauty, who seek not to entertain but to transform, are discarded. They must struggle on their own.

The sale of The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million, and the tidy profit of reportedly at least several million dollars made by principal owner and founder Arianna Huffington, who was already rich, is emblematic of this new paradigm of American journalism. The Huffington Post, as Stephen Colbert pointed out when he stole the entire content of The Huffington Post and rechristened it The Colbuffington Re-post, produces little itself. The highly successful site, like most Internet sites, is largely pirated from other sources, especially traditional news organizations, or is the product of unpaid writers who are rechristened “citizen journalists.” It is driven by the celebrity gossip that dominates cheap tabloids, with one or two stories that come from The New York Times or one of the wire services to give it a veneer of journalistic integrity. Hollywood celebrities, or at least their publicists, write windy and vapid commentaries. And this, I fear, is what news is going to look like in the future. The daily reporting and monitoring of city halls, courts, neighborhoods and government, along with investigations into corporate fraud and abuse, will be replaced by sensational garbage and Web packages that are made to look like news but contain little real news.

The terminal decline of newspapers has destroyed thousands of jobs that once were dedicated to reporting, verifying fact and giving a voice to those who without these news organizations would not be heard. Newspapers, although they were too embedded among the power elite and blunted their effectiveness in the name of a faux objectivity, at least stopped things from getting worse. This last and imperfect bulwark has been removed. It has been replaced by Internet creations that mimic journalism. Good reporters, like good copy editors or good photographers, who must be paid and trained for years while they learn the trade, are becoming as rare as blacksmiths. Stories on popular sites are judged not by the traditional standards of journalism but by how many hits they receive, how much Internet traffic they generate, and how much advertising they can attract. News is irrelevant. Facts mean little. Reporting is largely nonexistent. No one seems to have heard of the common good. Our television screens are filled with these new chattering celebrity journalists. They pop up one day as government spokespeople and appear the next as hosts on morning news shows. They deal in the currency of emotion, not truth. They speak in empty clichés, not ideas. They hyperventilate, with a spin from the left or the right, over every bit of gossip. And their corporate sponsors make these court jesters millionaires. We are entertained by these clowns as corporate predators ruthlessly strip us of our capacity to sustain a living, kill our ecosystem because of greed, gut civil liberties and turn us into serfs.

Any business owner who uses largely unpaid labor, with a handful of underpaid, nonunion employees, to build a company that is sold for a few hundred million dollars, no matter how he or she is introduced to you on the television screen, is not a liberal or a progressive. Those who take advantage of workers, whatever their outward ideological veneer, to make profits of that magnitude are charter members of the exploitative class. Dust off your Karl Marx. They are the enemies of working men and women. And they are also, in this case, sucking the lifeblood out of a trade I care deeply about. It was bad enough that Huffington used her site for flagrant self-promotion, although the cult of the self has reached such dizzying proportions in American society that such behavior is almost expected. But there is an even sadder irony that this was carried out in the name of journalism.

“Something is happening here,” Bob Dylan sang in “Ballad of a Thin Man,” “but you don’t know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones?”

This latest form of “liberal” exploitation exposes yet again the liberal class for who they really are—opportunists whose operating methods are as callous as those used in running the textile mills in southern China. Is it any wonder that working men and women, who have been abandoned and betrayed by these self-identified liberals, hate the liberal class and its transparent hypocrisy? Is it any wonder that the some 40 million Americans who live in poverty are invisible to the wider culture? Is it any wonder that the tea party and all the lunatics on the fringe of our political spectrum put their cross hairs on the liberal class and its purported values? Let’s not forget the title of Huffington’s latest book: “Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream.”

Liberals like these deserve the rage they engender.

The argument made to defend this exploitation is that the writers had a choice. It is an argument I also heard made by the managers of sweatshops in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, the coal companies in West Virginia or Kentucky and huge poultry farms in Maine. It is the argument made by the comfortable, by those who do not know what it is to be hard up, desperate or driven by a passion to express one’s self and the world through journalism or art. It is the argument the wealthy elite, who have cemented in place an oligarchic system under which there are no real choices, use to justify their oppression.

Who would not want to be able to carry out his or her trade and make enough to pay the bills? What worker would decline the possibility of job protection, health care and a pension? Why do these people think tens of millions of Americans endure substandard employment?

If Huffington has a conscience, she will sit down when the AOL check arrives and make sure every cent of it is paid out to those who worked free or at minimal wages for her over the last six years, starting with Mayhill Fowler, the blogger who broke the “clinging to guns and religion” story about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and spent two years writing and reporting without a salary.

“She strung me along for two years while I repeatedly asked for funding for three projects, and then I quit,” Fowler told me from Oakland, Calif., as I spoke with her by phone. When Fowler, whom the site nominated twice for a Pulitzer, finally resigned last year in disgust, Mario Ruiz, the spokesperson for The Huffington Post, acidly told Yahoo News: “Mayhill Fowler says that she is ‘resigning’ from The Huffington Post. How do you resign from a job you never had?”

That comment says it all. It exposes the callousness of our oligarchic class and their belief that they have a right to use anyone who can contribute to the monuments they spend their lives erecting to themselves.

Chris Hedges is a fellow at The Nation Institute and a weekly Truthdig columnist. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dear Muammar

Dear Muammar: A Note to Muammar Gaddafi

On behalf of the 270 people killed aboard Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988,

On behalf of all of those killed and victimized by Charles Taylor and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, for whom you served as one of the key initial backers,

On behalf of all of those killed and victimized in Sierra Leone by Revolutionary United Front forces who attended guerrilla training camps in Libya,

On behalf of all those killed, victimized and displaced by the propagation of Arab supramacism in the Sudanese region of Darfur, which you helped create by aiding in the formation the Arab supremacist organisation Tajamu al-Arabi,

And on behalf of your own people, who you continue to victimize,

I sincerely hope, failing the proper processes against you by the International Criminal Court, that you soon come to the Benito Mussolini-like end that you so richly deserve.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Haiti’s Aristide should be greeted with prosecution, not praise

Haiti’s Aristide should be greeted with prosecution, not praise

By Michael Deibert

The indictment late last year by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of six prominent Kenyans for their roles in violence following that country’s disputed 2007 elections was a welcome sign for those seeking to hold politicians accountable for their crimes. Though the ICC has badly bungled what should have been its showpiece case - against the ruthless Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga - the Kenya indictments nevertheless represented a welcome extension of its continuing mission.

To those of us who have seen Haiti’s political convulsions first-hand over the years, that Caribbean nation makes a compelling case for attention by the ICC as perpetrators of human rights abuses often go unpunished or are even rehabilitated in subsequent governments. With one despotic former ruler (Jean-Claude Duvalier) having recently returned and another (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) announcing his intention to do so, one Haitian case, in particular, would seem tailor-made for the ICC’s attention.

In February 2004, in the midst of a chaotic rebellion against Mr. Aristide's government, the photojournalist Alex Smailes and I found ourselves in the central Haitian city of Saint Marc, at the time the last barrier between Aristide and a motley collection of once-loyal street gangs and former soldiers who were sweeping down from the country's north seeking to oust him.

Several days earlier, on 7 February, an armed anti-Aristide group, the Rassemblement des militants conséquents de Saint Marc (Ramicos), based in the neighborhood of La Scierie, had attempted to drive government forces from the town, seizing the local police station, which they set on fire.

On 9 February, the combined forces of the Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH), the Unité de Sécurité de la Garde du Palais National (USGPN) - a unit directly responsible for the president’s personal security - and a local paramilitary organisation named Bale Wouze (Clean Sweep) retook much of the city. By 11 February, a few days before our arrival, Bale Wouze - headed by a former parliamentary representative of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party named Amanus Mayette - had commenced the battle to retake La Scierie. Often at Mayette’s side was a government employee named Ronald Dauphin, known to residents as "Black Ronald,”often garbed in a police uniform even though he was in no way officially employed by the police.

When Alex and I arrived in the town, we found the USGPN and Bale Wouze patrolling Saint Marc as a single armed unit. Speaking to residents there - amidst a surreal backdrop of burned buildings, the stench of human decay, drunken gang members threatening our lives with firearms and a terrified population - we soon realized that something awful had happened in Saint Marc.

According to multiple residents interviewed during that visit and a subsequent visit that I made to the town in June 2009, after government forces retook the town - and after a press conference there by Yvon Neptune, at the time Aristide’s Prime Minister and also the head of the Conseil Superieur de la Police Nationale d'Haiti - a textbook series of war crimes took place.

Residents spoke of how Kenol St. Gilles, a carpenter with no political affiliation, was shot in each thigh, beaten unconscious by Bale Wouze members and thrown into a burning cement depot, where he died. Unarmed Ramicos member Leroy Joseph was decapitated, while Ramicos second-in-command Nixon François was simply shot. In the ruins of the burned-out commissariat, Bale Wouze members gang raped a 21-year-old woman, while other residents were gunned down by police firing from a helicopter as they tried to flee over a nearby mountain. A local priest told me matter-of-factly at the time of Bale Wouze that “these people don't make arrests, they kill."

According to a member of a Human Rights Watch delegation that visited Saint Marc a month after the killings, at least 27 people were murdered there between Feb. 11 and Aristide’s flight into exile at the end of the month. Her conclusion supported by the research of the Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, a Haitian human rights organization.

Following Aristide's overthrow, several members of Bale Wouze were lynched, while Yvon Neptune turned himself over to the interim government that ruled Haiti from March 2004 until the inauguration of President René Préval in May 2006.

Held in prison without trial until his May 2006 release on humanitarian grounds, a May 2008 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Haitian state had violated the American Convention on Human Rights in its detention of Neptune, though stressed that it was "not a criminal court in which the criminal responsibility of an individual can be examined.” Neptune ran unsuccessfully for president in Haiti’s recent elections.

After being jailed for three years without trial, Amanus Mayette was freed from prison in April 2007. Arrested in 2004, Ronald Dauphin subsequently escaped from jail, and was re-arrested during the course of an anti-kidnapping raid in Haiti's capital in July 2006. Despite several chaotic public hearings, to date, none of the accused for the killings in La Scierie has ever gone to trial. At the time of writing, Mr. Aristide himself continues to enjoy a gilded exile in South Africa, his luxurious lifestyle and protection package bankrolled by South African taxpayers.

Frustratingly for the people of St. Marc, far from being supported in their calls for justice, the events they experienced have become a political football among international political actors.

The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Louis Joinet, in a 2005 statement dismissed allegations of a massacre and described what occurred as "a clash", a characterization that seemed unaware of the fact that not all among those victimized had any affiliation with Haiti's political opposition.

The Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH), a U.S.-based organization, has lauded Mr. Dauphin as “a Haitian grassroots activist.” The IJDH itself maintains close links with Mr. Aristide’s U.S. attorney, Ira Kurzban, who is listed as one of the group’s founders, serves on the chairman of board of directors and whose law firm, according to U.S. Department of Justice filings, earned nearly $5 million for its lobbying work alone representing the Aristide government during the era of its worst excesses. By comparison, the firm of former U.S. congressmen Ron Dellums received the relatively modest sum of $989,323 over the same period.

When I returned to St. Marc in June of 2009, I found its residents still wondering when someone would be held accountable for the terrible crimes they had been subjected to. Amazil Jean-Baptiste, the mother of Kenol St. Gilles, said simply "I just want justice for my son.” A local victim’s rights group of survivors of the pogrom, the Association des Victimes du Génocide de la Scierie (AVIGES), formed to help advocate on residents’ behalf, but have had precious little success in what passes for Haiti’s justice system, broken and dysfunctional long before January 2010's devastating earthquake.

Though Mr. Aristide remains something of a fading star for a handful of commentators outside of Haiti- most of whom have not spent significant time in the country, cannot speak its language and have never bothered to sit down with the victims of the Aristide government's crimes there - to those of us who have seen a bit of its recent history firsthand, the words of veteran Trinidadian diplomat Reginald Dumas - a man who does know Haiti - seem apt, that Mr. Aristide "[acquired] for himself a reputation at home which did not match the great respect with which he was held abroad.''

The ICC has sometimes been criticized for acting as if war crimes and crimes against humanity are simply African problems, taking place in distant lands. The people of St. Marc, only a 90 minute flight from Miami, know differently. As Mr. Aristide currently loudly voices his desire to return to Haiti from his exile in South Africa, doubtlessly transiting several ICC signatory countries (including South Africa itself) in the process, the case of the victims of St. Marc is one admirably deserving of the ICC’s attention.

Michael Deibert is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University and the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press). He has been visiting and writing about Haiti since 1997.

Photo © Michael Deibert

Sunday, February 13, 2011


(Note: Readers might also be interested in two recent articles of mine from Guatemala, Guatemala: Caught in the crossfire, The Miami Herald 18 January 2011, and Guatemala's lonely battle against corruption, The Guardian 12 November 2010. Also see my 2008 article, Drugs vs. Democracy in Guatemala, World Policy Journal Winter 2008/09. MD)

DE RUEHGT #0106/01 0371015
P 061015Z FEB 09

(Read the original cable here)




E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2019

REF: A. 2008 GUATEMALA 387
B. 2008 GUATEMALA 1593

Classified By: Pol/Econ Counselor Drew Blakeney for reasons 1.4 (b&d).

1. (C) Confronted by the threat from three narcotrafficking
groups, including recently arrived "Zetas" from Mexico, the
local Rule of Law (ROL) apparatus in the northern city of
Coban is no longer capable of dealing with the most serious
kinds of crime. What is happening there is typical of many
rural areas of Guatemala. Sources tell us that Coban's
police are corrupt and allied with traffickers, and sometimes
even provide them escort. Some judges and prosecutors are
too frightened to do their jobs properly; others are in
league with the traffickers. Asserting that security is not
his job, the mayor is turning a blind eye to the
narco-violence in Coban's streets. Wholesale restructuring
of the ROL apparatus -- not mere personnel changes -- would
be required for the state to adequately reassert its
authority. End Introduction.

Mexican Zetas Settling Down in Coban...
2. (C) Prompted by accounts that more than 100 Mexican
"Zetas" (the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, members of which
are former soldiers) have taken up residence, Pol/Econ
Counselor visited the northern city of Coban, Guatemala,
January 11-13. AID officer made a follow-on trip to the
region Jan. 20-22. Coban, which is the capital of Alta
Verapaz Department, and its surrounding areas have a
population of approximately 150,000. Most inhabitants are
from the Q'Eqchi' and Poqomchi' indigenous groups, though the
area has many Spanish-speaking Ladinos as well. A September
2, 2008 shoot-out in front of the shopping mall involving
Mexican and Guatemalan traffickers armed with military
weapons brought Coban's growing narcotrafficking problem to
national attention. Coban is no longer the peaceful place it
was just a year and a half ago, although some interlocutors
reported that the Zetas are now trying to keep a lower
profile in order to avoid national and international

...with Help from Local Authorities
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, a ten-year resident of Coban, said there were
three main narcotrafficking groups/leaders in Coban: Walter
Overdic Mejia, the local representative of the Guatemalan
Lorenzana Family of Zacapa; "El Loco" Turcios, the local
representative of the Mendoza drug trafficking family of
Izabal; and most recently, more than 100 Mexican Zetas.
Overdic had invited the Zetas in, thinking he could arrange a
lucrative partnership, but now the Zetas are taking over,
XXXXXXXXXXXX said. They are buying land forming a corridor to
the Mexican border, and have met with local African palm
growers to tell them which land they can buy and which they
cannot. They kidnapped some of the growers, employees to
underline their point.

4. (C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, scores of mid- and
lower-ranking Zetas have taken up residence in "El Esfuerzo
1" and "El Esfuerzo 2," two poor neighborhoods in Coban,s
western Zone 12, adjacent to the airport. (Comment: During
a visit to the two impoverished neighborhoods, Pol/Econ
Qa visit to the two impoverished neighborhoods, Pol/Econ
Counselor observed many idle youths. It appeared that they
could easily be manipulated by outsiders with money.)
XXXXXXXXXXXX said immigration authorities are helping the Zetas
obtain Guatemalan passports and other documents to normalize
their status in the country. The Zetas also are believed to
operate a training camp in the area. In separate
conversations with AID officer, XXXXXXXXXXXX, native of Coban, said Zetas freely use the
airport, even during daylight hours.

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he had seen police XXXXXXXXXXXX personally
escorting the Zetas. In addition to assisting the Zetas,
XXXXXXXXXXXX has been in the employ of both of the main
Guatemalan rival traffickers, Turcios and Overdic, and has
betrayed both, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. One or the other may

GUATEMALA 00000106 002 OF 004

assassinate him soon, XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated. He noted that
the September firefight with military weapons occurred in
front of the shopping mall, 500 meters from the police
station. The PNC did not respond. The genesis of the
firefight, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, was Overdic had sent
Jorge Flores to ambush the Zetas in retaliation for their
March 25 murder of Juan Leon in Zacapa (ref b). When the
SAIA (Counternarcotics Analysis and Information Service)
briefly detained Overdic,s wife and son, Overdic announced
on local radio that if they were not immediately freed, he
would "blow up the shopping mall, and the commercial center
of town." Storekeepers duly closed for the day, and the mall
was evacuated. Mrs. Overdic was released. (Note: During a
search of the Overdics' bodyguards' quarters, investigators
allegedly found three checks to Army Colonel Carlos Adolfo
Mancilla, according to the International Commission Against
Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Mancilla has since been
promoted to Brigadier General and made Deputy Chief of Staff,
ref b.)

Mayor, Police Chief Don't See a Problem
6. (C) From Coban but not having lived there since
childhood, Mayor Leonel Chacon of the FRG left the textile
business in Guatemala City to return home to run for mayor.
He was eager to discuss his economic development plans with
Pol/Econ Counselor, but was visibly nervous when asked to
discuss security and narcotics trafficking. He said that
narcotraffickers could at times be seen in Coban, but had no
negative impact on local life. He dismissed reports of Zetas
in Coban as "rumors," and did not react to mention of the
September shoot-out, Walter Overdic, and Overdic,s alleged
murder of an appellate court judge two years ago. "I don't
have a problem with anybody," Chacon said. He mentioned that
common crime has long remained at a constant, low level.
Despite the mayor's assurances, XXXXXXXXXXXX told AID
officer that local cocaine consumption was growing, and that
the narcotraffickers' local transportation network now
includes many taxi drivers and small farmers.

7. (C) Police XXXXXXXXXXXX told Pol/Econ Counselor that narcotraffickers
occasionally use the Coban area as a transportation corridor,
but do not disrupt local life. He said the September
shoot-out was Juan Leon's supporters ambushing Mexican Zetas.
"It doesn't worry me if they want to kill each other,"
XXXXXXXXXXXX said. Key to interrupting narcotraffickers'
operations is more patrolling, he asserted, but with just 280
PNC officers to cover the whole of Alta Verapaz Department,
that was not possible. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he personally had
transported Walter "The Tiger" Overdic to jail on several
occasions during his previous assignment to the area, but
since judges freed him each time, there was little point in
going after him or other narcotraffickers again. Common
crime has long remained at a constant, low level. Youths
from impoverished Zone 12, at the western end of Coban, are
trying to imitate Guatemala City gang members, but so far
haven't been much of a problem, XXXXXXXXXXXX said. (Note: Mayor
separately told AID officer that Alta Verapaz residents tend
to report drug crimes to municipal authorities rather than to
the police because they are convinced that Chief Sandoval and
his officers are in league with traffickers. End Note.)

Judicial Workers Intimidated
8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said his conscience was
clear, and that he was doing the best job he could while
bearing in mind Coban,s "new realities." (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX is
one of three judges who may have made decisions helpful to
Overdic, according to CICIG.) "I do not wish to become a
martyr," XXXXXXXXXXXX said, noting that he drives himself to work,
has no security, and his family lives nearby. Local police
are corrupt, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, and he did not know whom to trust
within local rule of law institutions. XXXXXXXXXXXX acknowledged the
local presence of Zetas and other traffickers, but would not
go into details. He said it was time to consider a new,
extraordinary arrangement that would provide protection for
judicial workers and their families. Anonymity would have to
be part of the arrangement, which would need to include far

GUATEMALA 00000106 003 OF 004

more robust investigative and policing capabilities.

9. (C) Criminal Prosecutor XXXXXXXXXXXX of the
Public Ministry (MP, the Attorney General's Office) told
Pol/Econ Counselor that she "had never intended to join the
army, or do any other job likely to get (her) killed" when
she became a prosecutor decades ago. XXXXXXXXXXXX.
When she drives herself to work each morning, she goes past a
line of inmates, family members, who are awaiting access to
their loved ones inside, she said. "I put some of those
inmates in that prison. Do you think their family members
notice me when I drive by? Do you think they point at me?
They do," she said. Mentioning that she regularly rides
public busses alone, XXXXXXXXXXXX said she would like to vigorously
pursue cases against narcotraffickers, but feels too
vulnerable to do so. Furthermore, she said, local police
were not trustworthy. Her workload is on the rise: the Coban
MP's common criminal case load had increased from
300-400/month two years ago to 600-800 now, and was
distributed among three prosecutors and four assistants. "We
cannot go on like this ... something has got to change," she
concluded. There was consensus among AID officer's
interlocutors that judges and prosecutors are turning a blind
eye to narcotraffickers because they fear for their lives,
and those of their family members.

Better Leadership in Neighboring Tactic
10. (C) Pol/Econ Counselor also traveled to three ethnic
Poqomchi, towns immediately south of Coban -- Santa Cruz,
San Cristobal Verapaz, and Tactic. Unsatisfied with the
usual mayors, answer that they do not deal with security
issues, Hugo Rolando Caal Co, the newly-elected Mayor of
Tactic, decided he would. He organized neighborhood
"intelligence committees" to gather information on outsiders
and criminals, which report information to the Mayor's
Office, which then reports it to ROL authorities. He is also
installing street cameras that will be monitored from a
central site at the municipality building. Caal said he is
considering joint security initiatives with the mayors of the
other three ethnic Poqomchi' towns -- Tamahu, Santa Cruz
Verapaz, and San Cristobal Verapaz. He noted that it is easy
for residents of the four Poqomchi' towns to spot outsiders
because they generally do not speak Poqomchi'. Caal Co hoped
to capitalize on the Poqomchis' unique linguistic identity
for the community's security benefit.

11. (C) Caal said a recent, gruesome murder made him think
for the first time that perhaps narcotraffickers had come to
Tactic. Hundreds of townspeople had attempted to lynch the
suspected perpetrators on the morning of January 13 (during
Pol/Econ Counselor's visit), but PNC Chief Sandoval and his
men arrived to take the suspects into custody. Caal was
critical of ROL authorities, saying they needed to be more
efficient and vigilant. He and other municipal leaders told
AID officer that the PNC's living and working conditions are
not such as to inspire loyalty to the state, and that the GOG
needs to do more for its police, starting with better
Qneeds to do more for its police, starting with better
salaries. In the meantime, Caal Co told AID officer, the
army, which is a stronger institution, should do more joint
patrolling with the police. This would serve to strengthen
the state's law enforcement presence and might encourage
better police comportment.

12. (C) Judge XXXXXXXXXXXX opined that the ROL
apparatus is broken. The PNC and MP often accuse judges of
freeing criminals, but the Penal Code was written in such as
a way as to make that the likeliest outcome. Guatemala
desperately needs to reform its Penal Code, he said. In
cases in which laws, sentencing provisions conflict, such as
in the case of the Femicide Law (a copy of which he had on
his desk) and the Penal Code, judges were forced to apply the
lesser sentence. Despairing of the status quo, XXXXXXXXXXXX said,
"Soon there will be no choice but to resort to martial law."
While Tactic had remained relatively quiet, XXXXXXXXXXXX said Coban
was out of control. He related that three truckloads of
Zetas recently stopped a police patrol to inform the two PNC
officers that a narcotrafficking operation was imminent. The
PNC officers should remain silent and go on their way,
"unless either of you are dissatisfied with your salaries, in
which case you should come with us," the Zetas had told the

GUATEMALA 00000106 004 OF 004


13. (C) Coban's ROL infrastructure was never intended to
deal with the kind of threats to public order that it now
faces, and is collapsing. The process of loss of state
control now underway in Coban has already occurred in other
parts of the country, including Zacapa and Izabal
Departments, as well as parts of Jutiapa, Chiquimula, San
Marcos, and Peten Departments. Without outside intervention,
Coban will join the growing list of areas lost to

Friday, February 11, 2011


Congratulations to the heroes and martyrs of Egypt. You got rid of the old pharaoh! You are real heroes, people of October.