Thursday, August 18, 2011

Plaza Publica gains access to Wikileaks on Guatemalan presidential candidate

A Guatemalan newspaper, Plaza Publica was granted to access to 15 cables through Wikileaks, providing valuable information about the front running presidential candidate, Otto Perez Molina. One particularly informative cable is from a meeting between the United States Ambassador James Derham and Otto Perez Molina on September 18th, 2007. The meeting covers several key issues facing Perez Molina in his campaign: financing, alliances with the Guatemalan elite, military corruption accusations, and possible policy plans.

According to Plaza Publica, Perez Molina was unwilling to share his financing information with the Guatemalan public. Even though his financing was kept secret from the public, Perez did discuss it with the U.S. embassy in the cable. According to Ambassador Derham, Perez asserted that he was receiving support from the four richest families in Guatemala (los Castillo, los Novella, los Herrera, and Dionisio Gutierrez), which are directly associated with the four largest industries in the country. When asked about his relationship with the Mendoza family, Perez responded that he had a minimal connection with a member of the family which was not involved in drug-trafficking before pulling them completely out of his campaign. This fact was denied completely during an interview with Plaza Publica just one month ago.

Ambassador Durham also questioned Perez about the military accusations against him by human rights organizations and watch groups for his role in the Nibaj brigade and as Director of Intelligence during armed conflict. Perez argued that he was sent to Nibaj as the Minister of Defense (not as a commander) and that the military strategy in place when he arrived was to identify the indigenous communities ‘hiding in the hills’ as guerilla supporters—another detail he left out of the Plaza Publica interview. Perez continued on to say that he made a concerted effort to change the military’s image of the indigenous and better their relationship with those communities. Perez also denied any involvement in the disappearance of commander Everardo during his time as Director of Intelligence. The embassy commented in the cable the it has, up to date, not found any valid evidence implicating Perez in violations of human rights.

On the reporting side, Martin Rodriguez Pellecer tells the full (and exciting) story of how Plaza Publica was able to gain access to the Wikileaks, shedding light on the complicated and clandestine world of internet hacking.

Top Stories:

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