LOS DOCUMENTOS DE WIKILEAKS-PERÚ

Preocupación por lazos de la política con el narcotráfico

id: 61359 date: 4/21/2006 14:51 refid: 06LIMA1534 origin: Embassy Lima classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY destination: 06LIMA2444 header: VZCZCXYZ0001 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #1534/01 1111451 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 211451Z APR 06 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9925 INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3287 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6688 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2346 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9334 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR QUITO 0260 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0437 RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC//USD 1440 RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC ----------------- header ends ---------------- UNCLAS LIMA 001534 SIPDIS DEPT FOR WHA/AND, EPSC AND OES/ETC,ENV BRASILIA FOR ESTH HUB - J STORY USAID FOR LAC, EGAT USTR FOR B HARMANN, M BURR COMMERCE FOR M CAMERON USDA/AS/FAA/BAILLEY AND USDA/FAS/ITP/FSTSD/BREHM SENSITIVE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SENV, ETRD, EINV, EAID, ECON, PGOV, SNAR, PE SUBJECT: ILLEGAL LOGGING THRIVES IN PERU REF: LIMA 2444 1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Peru exports the most broad leaf mahogany in the world, a majority of it to the U.S. Much of the exports are likely from illegal logging, violating Peruvian law and the CITES international convention against trafficking in endangered species. The GOP, NGO community and Peruvian logging industry agree that illegal logging is a problem. Post has identified serious deficiencies in GOP regulator INRENA's ability to police the logging industry, formal and informal. The formal forest products industry, concerned about legal challenges to mahogany exports, appears interested in working to reduce illegal logging. Post is exploring options such as applying for OES-I Qoject funds and realigning USAID programming. END SUMMARY. DIRE MAHOGANY SITUATION ----------------------- 2. (U) Peru now is the world's largest exporter of broad leaf mahogany, according to thQatest report of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). Brazil reportedly no longer allows legal export of broad leaf mahogany, and the Bolivian government is reducing legal exports due to its declining stocks. Legal exports of Peruvian mahogany have declined steadily since, according to the 2005 report of the GOP's natural resources monitoring and enforcement agency, INRENA. Since 2002, the agency's estimate of illicit exported mahogany has been 60,000 cubic meters per year. Broad leaf mahogany continues as an endangered species under Appendix II of the International Convention against Trafficking in Endangered Species (CITES). The high selective extraction of reproducing trees, the slow reproduction rate of wild mahogany, and the inability so far of silviculturalists to develop healthy mahogany plantations have combined to cause a steady decline in mahogany stocks. PROBLEMS WITH MAHOGANY BUYERS AND SELLERS ----------------------------------------- 3. (U) Ten firms with INRENA permits account for over 85 percent of Peru's mahogany exports. The United States continues to be by far the largest importer of mahogany importing 88 percent of Peru's total 2005 mahogany exports. Unofficial INRENA estimates indicate that 70-90 percent of all mahogany exported in 2005 originated from illegal sources. 4. (SBU) INRENA's current verification process, implemented as a result of USAID support, is confirming that mahogany is being harvested not from the commercial concessions but from protected areas (where commercial extraction is prohibited) and from areas in indigenous territories different than those specified in INRENA-approved logging plans. INRENA must approve all logging plans to extract mahogany legally from commercial forestry concessions, indigenous community lands, and agricultural land with remnant forests. 5. (SBU) Reliable INRENA sources and civil society groups report that mahogany loggers exploit indigenous communities by paying below-market prices. The loggers also are involved in forced labor, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Moreover, commercial timber extraction from forested remnants of agricultural land is considered the most common system to launder illegal timber. There is a long history of extracting mahogany from remnant forests and the origin of the cut timber is hard to trace. PERU SETS QUOTAS AT LAST ------------------------ 6. (SBU) Despite domestic political pressure against the measure, INRENA (with USG support) set in May 2005 Peru's first mahogany export quota. INRENA established the quota for 2005 at 23,621 cubic meters (m3). INRENA concluded that an export quota was the most cost-effective and scientifically defensible way to manage the resource and fulfill CITES requirements after it verified, with direct USAID support, 52 concessions. The verification process showed that 60 percent of these concessions presented serious infractions, including document falsification, timber extraction outside the concession boundaries and links to bribes. The other 40 percent showed they were complying with the minimal management standards per Peruvian law, but still required corrections. None of the concessions verified showed high management standards. As a result, INRENA set a mahogany quota, suspended the granting of new concessions and requested USAID-targeted support to correct the identified weaknesses. 7. (U) INRENA officials said that a quota allowed official exports to be controlled while better methods were developed to farm mahogany in plantations or foster regeneration of wild stocks, and until a reliable supervision system could be put in place. INRENA set a quota for 2006 at 23,239 m3. As of March 2006, Peru has exported 5,698.57 m3, most of which has gone to the United States. (Note: Given the acknowledged problem with illegal logging, we were surprised that INRENA reduced the quota by only 394 m3 for 2006. End Note.) 8. (SBU) INRENA based the 2005-06 quota on various criteria. This included: historical exports; requirements for non-detrimental legal exports under Appendix II of CITES; and INRENA projections of available commercial timber volume for the harvest seasons. INRENA considered as well NGO and ITTO data on the continuing reduction of mahogany populations in Latin America. The National Agrarian University (UNALM) is the CITES scientific authority for "non-detriment" in Peru. The University has been unable to produce a definitive census or other reliable monitoring system of mahogany stocks; UNALM finally delivered to ESTHoff on April 3 a promised preliminary census. UNALM's report states that Peru's mahogany population has declined dramatically, from 768,220 trees (224,733 in protected natural areas) to 304,630 trees (87,888 in protected natural areas). MISPLACED SUPPORT FROM CITES AUTHORITIES... 9. (SBU) At the last international CITES meeting, in October 2005, INRENA presented a series of accomplishments it claimed had been made in the fight against the illegal cutting of mahogany. When the CITIES Commission lauded Peru's gains in the management of forest resources and environmental governance, it also noted the fragility of these gains. Highlighting future challenges, the Commission identified the "increased powers" of an illicit forest management cartel; the cartel's strengthened linkages to what it called the Coca Cartel; and the continued crisis in institutional capacity. (Comment: Post does not believe that there is either a single illicit logging cartel nor a single coca cartel. End Comment.) 10. (SBU) At the CITES meeting, the GOP cited as an accomplishment its computerized system to track mahogany harvest, a system developed with USAID funding. Reliable information indicates that data has consistently been mis- entered or later altered at field locations, allowing concessionaires to cut more lumber than they are legally permitted. Post has suspected corruption for many months and has consistently informed INRENA of these concerns. A few weeks ago, when the story appeared in the media, INRENA claimed it would address this situation. Nothing has changed to date. 11. (SBU) INRENA at the last CITES meeting announced that it was re-structuring itself to ensure greater "separation of powers" among INRENA's management, forest supervision department (OSINFOR), and its departments for protected areas and species. More than five months since the meeting, the new structure has yet to be implemented. Post now has reason to believe that the gains the GOP claimed last October were simply not true. (Comment: Ironically, the GOP has agreed to host in Lima the next CITES meeting. GOP lead host agency, INRENA, has asked USAID for funding support. Peru's lack of CITES compliance could become an issue. End Comment.) GROWING NEXUS BETWEEN ILLEGAL LOGGING AND NARCOTRAFFICKING --------------------------------------------- -------------- 12. (SBU) The narcotrafficking presence on the eastern slopes of the Andes puts even more pressure on mahogany and cedar populations. Narcotraffickers with established networks for moving coca paste and opium latex appear to be getting involved in transport of illegal timber, for both its profitability and its utility as concealment. For example, GOP officials and mining developers familiar with mine exploration activities at the northern border with Ecuador told Econoff in July that a local Mayor has been involved in both illegal logging and opium poppy production. 13. (SBU) Police in Loreto Department told Econoff in June and September that they continue to find coca paste packages hidden in mahogany and cedar shipments. The transported mahogany trunks, or stacked loads of sawn lumber, are so huge, and the number of shipments so massive that police catch only a tiny fraction of the coca that they estimate is transported from the Andes downriver to Brazil. DEA's Lima Country Office -- which actively assists GOP law enforcement in eliminating the concealment of illicit drugs in wood shipments, believes that suspected shipments are large. USAID RESPONSE -------------- 14. (U) Consistent with its overall objective of assisting GOP institutions to take the lead and become accountable for sustainable natural resources management and conservation of biodiversity, USAID continues to support transformational development interventions. USAID funds and advises INRENA on issues related to sustainable natural resources management, management of protected areas, institutional capacity strengthening, and policy and legal controls. USAID decided recently to discontinue support for the computer registration program because of the credible allegations of corruption and the lack of INRENA action to address the situation. 15. (U) USAID is pursuing the most effective way of combating illegal logging, through legal forest management. USAID is working with INRENA to achieve international certification of forests and the lumber export chain, limiting participation in programs to operators whom USAID can certify. Working with a small group of private concessionaires and 10 different indigenous communities, the objective is to certify approximately 200,000 hectares by December 2006. The initial results are promising, but the task is daunting. PRIVATE SECTOR CONCERNED ABOUT ESA LITIGATION --------------------------------------------- 16. (SBU) In late March and early April meetings with Econoff and USAID Environmental officer, Peruvian Association of Exporters (ADEX) representatives expressed their concern about what misrepresentations of fact in the copy of Notice to Sue, written by NGO Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). During the meeting ADEX representatives admitted that the problem was great, but that there existed a core group of exporters interested in "doing this right." ADEX members are particularly concerned about current lumber shipments soon to depart Peru bound for the U.S. PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR ----------------------------------- 17. (SBU) While Peru's forested land accounts for over 64 percent of the country's surface, forestry accounts for only one percent of GDP. One of the most compelling issues identified towards the achievement of forest and biodiversity sustainability and promotion of licit livelihoods is to promote international standards for certification and chain of custody. The forest products firms in Peru appear to want to change that. ADEX recently acknowledged in a public presentation the problem of illegal logging, the opportunity to increase exports and GDP and some suggestions for reforming GOP oversight of the forest products industry (Reftel). COMMENT: MUCH TO BE DONE ------------------------ 18. (SBU) Peru's forest management has been trouble for years, and its legitimate mahogany exports for the important U.S. market are in jeopardy. Peru risks violating not only CITES, but also the recently-signed free trade agreement with the United States, which will require Peru to enforce its local and international obligations. If the GOP does not maintain its quota in the face of continuing illegal harvest, it risks suspension of imports by the European Union, destruction of an endangered species and a defeat of the rule of law. U.S. wood importers need to join the effort by investing in the system's improvement. 19. (U) The U.S-Peru free trade agreement may provide an additional tool to move Peru along a path of compliance and conservation, promoting legal trade with the United States. Post will continue discussions with industry representatives on how to promote greater industry compliance with international standards. The International Wood Products Association has also expressed interest in helping to assure legal U.S. imports. Logging/export certification, if properly funded, could fit into a Post trade capacity building program for implementation of the U.S. trade deal. Post is applying for an OES-I project grant for this purpose. 20. (U) Embassy will raise with appropriate GOP officials the need to maintain a credible approach to mahogany exports and adhere to international forest and chain of custody certification standards. USAID will continue to work with INRENA, the private sector and indigenous populations to ensure that INRENA acquires the needed capacity to be held accountable for the proper and sustainable management of natural resources in Peru. Advancing the responsible promotion of the forest sector is the best alternative to the illicit livelihoods that sustain many in the current forest sector. 21. (U) This cable was co-drafted with USAID Lima. STRUBLE =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 176319 date: 10/31/2008 22:10 refid: 08LIMA1733 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: P 312210Z OCT 08 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9522 INFO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY CIA WASHDC PRIORITY DIA WASHDC PRIORITY USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001733 E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2018 TAGS: PGOV, SNAR, PE SUBJECT: PUCALLPA MAYOR ARRESTED ON DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES Classified By: Polcouns Alexis Ludwig. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 1. (C) Summary: Peruvian police arrested Pucallpa Mayor Luis Valdez October 14 on charges of laundering drug trafficking proceeds through an extensive network of commercial enterprises. Twice elected mayor, Valdez enjoys significant public sympathy in his hometown. Peruvian law enforcement officials consider Valdez's arrest as on par in importance with that of kingpin Fernando Zevallos in 2004, but serious challenges in bringing him to justice -- and in confronting other traffickers -- remain. End Summary. 2. (SBU) Units of the Peruvian National Police Anti-drug Directorate (DIRANDRO) arrested Pucallpa Mayor Luis VALDEZ Villacorta and 13 others October 14 on money laundering charges. Arrest warrants remained outstanding for another 8 persons. Pucallpa is the capital of the jungle region of Ucayali in eastern Peru. Valdez owns a number of businesses in the region including a lumber mill, river ferry service, and brewery. Authorities began asset seizure proceedings for those operations, in addition to 34 properties in Lima, Iquitos and Pucallpa; 44 boats; and 200 vehicles. Police transported the suspects to Lima where they were to be held while authorities prepared a formal indictment. 3. (SBU) The arrests were the result of an investigation that began in February 2008, based on drug seizures dating back to 2003 in Guatemala, Panama and most recently in Holland. PNP officials subsequently determined that financial records of Valdez's enterprises showed at least USD 71 million in assets whose origin could not be substantiated. 4. (C) Given that Valdez's companies employ some 3,000 people in Ucayali and his election twice as Pucallpa mayor, he enjoys strong support from the public. After his detention some 30-40 supporters blocked streets and the entrance to the airport, hoping to prevent the authorities from removing him to Lima. Analysts explained to poloff that Valdez and his organization controlled the flow of drugs out of Peru to the east and northeast, primarily into Brazil. The organization used its commercial network and logistical resources to facilitate the movement out of the country of large quantities of cocaine, say those observers. Even without good estimates of the quantity of drugs the Valdez network moved, one analyst told poloff that Valdez's arrest was the single biggest blow to drug trafficking interests in Peru since the 2004 arrest of Peruvian drug kingpin Fernando Zevallos. 5. (C) Comment: While the Valdez arrest is good news in Peru's fight against drug trafficking, many challenges remain. First is whether the Peruvian justice system can avoid external pressures and successfully prosecute the case to its conclusion. Historical examples of lengthy prosecutions such as the Zevallos or Sanchez Paredes cases would put that result in doubt. Second, observers explain there is at least one Luis Valdez equivalent for every major exit route in the country, and many others waiting to take their places. As one analyst told poloff, much of the traffic previously moved to the northeast by the Valdez organization already had been diverted to land routes to Brazil in the far eastern region of Madre de Dios, along portions of the Interoceanic Highway. Similar routes existed overland via Puno to Bolivia; and out of ports in Arequipa, Lima, and Piura to maritime distribution channels in the Pacific, they said. MCKINLEY =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 190261 date: 2/3/2009 22:13 refid: 09LIMA146 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: P 032213Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9983 INFO AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY AMEMBASSY LA PAZ PRIORITY AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000146 E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2029 TAGS PGOV, PREL, SNAR, PINR, ECON, EFIN, ETRD, PE SUBJECT: GARCIA AT THE HALF-WAY MARK Classified By: DCM James Nealon for reasons 1.4(c) and (d). 1. (C) Summary: At the half-way point in President Garcia's term, the political balance is mixed but positive overall. On the plus side, Garcia has demonstrated sound economic and disciplined fiscal management, including in the face of the global crisis. He has conducted a pragmatic foreign policy, whose centerpiece is the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), while seeking to strengthen Peru's ties with like-minded neighbors and key European and Asian partners. These accomplishments, coupled with a mild leftward shift, have fueled a recent rise in the President's poll numbers. On the other side of the ledger, notwithstanding the government's expressed intentions and political will, weak institutions continue to hamper public service delivery and to complicate Garcia's ability to confront thorny problems, including drug trafficking and terrorism. In addition, the ongoing eavesdropping scandal could yet cause the government further problems (septel). Garcia's challenge remains clear: expand the system's reach and representation, and thereby reduce the political space for the many anti-systemic elements plotting for 2011 -- it remains a close call. End Summary. Sound Economic Management ------------------------- 2. (C) At the half-way point of his second term, President Garcia has dispelled some personal demons and showed he has learned from past mistakes. (His first term, 1985-90, is widely seen as a disaster -- plagued by economic mismanagement, foreign policy miscalculations and a failure to stem the rising tide of terrorism.) While die-hard Garcia skeptics claim to discern disturbing parallels between his first term as President and the present one, the political balance now is positive overall. For one, Garcia has overcome lingering doubts regarding the depth of his economic conversion by demonstrating sound economic management and a disciplined approach to government spending. He has presided over a period of unprecedented growth (over 9% in 2008) and relatively low inflation -- the highest and lowest in the region respectively. These positive numbers began to significantly reduce Peru's endemic poverty, which fell from over 44% in 2005 to 39% in 2007. Garcia has also been an impassioned cheerleader for investment-led growth, confronting a deep-seated historical mindset that sees the state as benefactor and principal motor of development. Even in the face of the global economic crisis of uncertain depth and scope, President Garcia has followed a fiscally prudent course while using the significant reserves accumulated in the boom years in shaping a public stimulus plan whose launch will be calibrated to the crisis's (likely rising) impacts on Peru. Corruption remains a widely discussed concern and a top government priority, but few concrete cases have emerged to date, notwithstanding constant media coverage of the ongoing phone-tap scandal. Pragmatic Foreign Policy ------------------------ 3. (C) Pragmatism has also marked Garcia's foreign policy, in which Peru's economic interests have shared a leading role with geo-political strategy. The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), entered into force February 1, has been the centerpiece of the government's trade-friendly foreign policy aimed at integrating Peru into the broader international economic system. In parallel, Garcia has sought to strengthen Peru's ties with like-minded neighbors such as Chile, Colombia and Mexico via bilateral efforts, trade agreements, and regional initiatives such as the "Arc of the Pacific." He has also intensified Peru's commercial relations with regional leaders like Brazil, and sought to woo fence-sitters, particularly Ecuador. Finally, he has kept at arm's length the volatile populist governments of Venezuela and Bolivia. To mark distance from UNASUR, Garcia has sent an envoy to the organization's presidential level meetings. He was also a no-show at the Brazil Summit. 4. (C) Peru's role as host of two successful high-profile international conferences -- the EU-LAC Summit in May and the APEC summit in November -- also enabled the Garcia government to project a positive image of the country onto the global stage. This has produced some concrete benefits. After much back and forth, in late 2008 the EU agreed to pursue negotiations on a comprehensive agreement, which includes a free trade component, with Peru outside the Andean Community framework. President Garcia has also demonstrated a keen personal interest in expanding Peru's commercial and other ties with Asia, particularly China, with which Peru is completing a free trade agreement. He is tentatively scheduled to visit Japan, Korea and China in early March -- for the second time this term -- to underscore his interest in deepening Peru's engagement in that dynamic region. A Rise in Polls --------------- 5. (C) The government's accomplishments in maintaining stability, successfully carrying out two international summits, and securing implementation of the long-awaited US-PTPA have probably contributed to a recent rise in Garcia's nationwide poll numbers -- from below 20% in October to 28% in January (35% in Lima). (President Toledo's support was in the single digits at this point of his term.) Some analysts believe the dip in inflatin -- a central cause of his earlier falling numbers -- has also played a role. Political insiders also credit Garcia's calculated shift to the left to reclaim the center and stem his fall in the polls. In doing this, he has sought to distance himself from his image as "president of the rich" (whom he spent his first two years successfully cultivating) while moving closer to the "people." This shift is reflected in Garcia's choice of Yehude Simon to succeed Jorge del Castillo as PM, in a series of public events in which he has been seen mingling with the common folk, and in periodically announcing high-profile public-works projects -- water, roads, energy -- in poor areas throughout the country. Serious Challenges Remain ------------------------- 6. (C) Notwithstanding the government's expressed intention to improve public services, weak and even dysfunctional state institutions continue to hamper basic service delivery and undermine public confidence. This challenge is particularly worrying in politically vulnerable regions where the state is largely absent and the anti-systemic opposition is strong. Some critics complain that Garcia has not made a serious attempt at state reform. As for the ongoing decentralization process in which Garcia has invested a great deal of time, energy and political capital, it so far has brought mixed results, sometimes exacerbating rather than mitigating the state's underlying structural dysfunctions. Much will depend on how this process plays out in the remaining half of Garcia's tenure. 7. (C) Meantime, the country's public education, health care and transportation infrastructure, in spite of significant increases in social spending and whatever the diverse improvements, remain under-equipped to address the real challenges and fall short of meeting popular expectations. Echoing a long-standing lament, his detractors claim Garcia tends to promise more than he can deliver, to continually repackage past promises into seemingly new proposals, and to focus more on publicly launching projects than on ensuring their bureaucratic follow-through. All this results in a pattern of expectations raised and then dashed -- a recipe (in the view of critics) for rising frustration. 8. (C) Peru's deficient state mechanisms have complicated Garcia's ability to confront some of Peru's profound structural challenges. The recent national police operation to remove squatters from public land in the northern region of Lambayeque, which resulted in three dead police officers, underscores the problem of weak state authority confronting difficult and sometimes dangerous actors and situations. The Garcia government has made a more serious effort to combat drug-trafficking than its predecessor -- including by launching a National Anti-Drug Strategy partly supported with its own budget -- and that effort has scored some notable successes. Rural communities in the San Martin region that have turned from coca production to licit lifestyles are an illustrative case in point. That said, coca production and drug trafficking throughout Peru have probably expanded somewhat over the past 30 months, and the government's continuing efforts need strong reinforcement to ensure a more enduring success. Similarly, in late 2008 the Army launched a long-delayed operation to challenge remnants of the Sendero Luminoso (SL) terrorist group on their home turf in the emergency VRAE region, but many critics believe the scope of the operation has been unequal to the task and will have little permanent effect unless it is significantly expanded. Bringing the necessary urgency, focus and resources to bear will be paramount in meeting this challenge. Unfolding Wire-tap Scandal -------------------------- 9. (C) In addition, the ongoing eavesdropping scandal could yet undermine Peru's forward progress. The initial round of the scandal, in which several figures with government connections were caught in secretly taped telephone conversations apparently greasing the skids for deals involving oil block concessions, caused the collapse of Garcia's first cabinet. The current round, in which some of the wire-tappers-for-hire have been identified and additional tape recordings have come to light, is still unfolding. Notwithstanding the almost relentless media coverage over the past six weeks, so far there has been no smoking gun or evidence of fire. Little has come to light that directly implicates government officials in any legally actionable corrupt act, no suitcase of cash or illegal bank account. That said, the whiff of corruption is strong, and the impression that private interests prey upon public institutions and trust pervasive. There is also a lingering concern that information yet to come to light could cause further problems for the government. Comment: Still a Close Call --------------------------- 10. (C) Garcia's challenge remains clear: expand the system's reach and representation, consolidate the still fragile trade- and investment-friendly policy consensus, and thereby reduce the political space for the many anti-systemic elements plotting for 2011 -- the year of the next general elections. Given the positive but still ambivalent results of President Garcia's first 30 months and the increasingly complicated imperatives of latter-term, pre-electoral politics, it remains a close call. MCKINLEY =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 88634 date: 12/7/2006 22:47 refid: 06LIMA4621 origin: Embassy Lima classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0007 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #4621 3412247 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 072247Z DEC 06 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3269 INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4167 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7122 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9992 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC QUITO 0877 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0994 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC ----------------- header ends ---------------- UNCLAS LIMA 004621 SIPDIS SENSITIVE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, SNAR, PE SUBJECT: ELECTORAL BOARD EXPOSES NARCO-CANDIDATES Sensitive But Unclassified, Please Handle Accordingly. 1. (U) Summary: The National Electoral Board (JNE) on November 14 identified more than 200 candidates in local elections who had lied on their resumes, including some who had hidden ties to narcotrafficking. Most of the publicized narco-candidates did not win. Despite evidence of narco-influence, the JNE President said the number of narco-candidates was not/not rising, but rather increased official scrutiny of candidate lists had led to more discoveries. Former Interior Minister Rospigliosi disagreed, and claimed the presence of narcos in public office was becoming more widespread. Whatever the case, political parties must step up to the challenge of policing candidate lists and culling candidates with questionable pasts. End Summary. 2. (U) The National Electoral Board on November 14 (five days before regional and municipal elections) found that 214 candidates had lied on their resumes (which the JNE requires of all candidates), including 156 who had failed to mention past criminal charges. Many candidates hid links to narcotrafficking. The JNE passed this information to the Prosecutors Office for further investigation. Some high profile media reports about the discovery followed. 3. (U) In some cases, the deceptions and links to narcotrafficking were serious. For example, Humberto Chavez Penaherrera, an APRA mayoral candidate in a San Martin (Huallaga Valley) district, had a criminal record and is the brother of a convicted narcotrafficker. (Note: Chavez Penaherrera and another APRA candidate linked to narcotrafficking were subjects of front page stories leading to accusations that APRA Secretary General Mauricio Mulder had not properly vetted APRA candidate lists. End Note.) Pucallpa Mayor Luis Valdez Villacorta, an independent, was re-elected despite being linked to local narcotraffickers and the murder of a local journalist. Luis Sante Zubia Cortez, of Si Cumple in Moquegua, was removed from the party list before the elections and detained by authorities after the JNE announced he was wanted for embezzlement. 4. (SBU) JNE President Enrique Mendoza told Poloffs that the influence of narcotraffickers was not necessarily worse than past years, but that increased and more systematic scrutiny of candidate lists had led to discoveries that may not have been made in previous years. He noted that during the recent regional/municipal elections, the JNE, for the first time, had reviewed resumes and looked for inconsistencies. Mendoza said Peru needed a massive voter education campaign to increse citizen awareness about the election process and to prevent narco-penetration of the political system in the future. 5. (SBU) Former Interior Minister and counternarcotics expert Fernando Rospigliosi told Poloffs that "many more (narcotrafficker sympathizers) were elected than you think." He highlighted a number of pro-coca radical candidates in Huanuco, San Martin, and the VRAE who are not explicitly narcotraffickers but allegedly received their financial support. Unlike Mendoza, Rospigliosi said the narcotraffickers' influence in the elections had increased, primarily because candidates needed cash and narcotraffickers had large amounts of that on hand. He further observed that the election of pro-coca candidates was proof of narcotrafficking influence. 6. (SBU) Comment: JNE oversight revealed the shady backgrounds of many candidates in November's municipal elections, but the information emerged only days before the voting. Peruvian political parties (even one as well organized as APRA) are vulnerable to candidates with easy access to large amounts of cash. The JNE deserves credit for exposing an ongoing problem, but the parties will need to develop stricter internal controls to eliminate influence of illicit money and questionable candidates. It is unclear whether parties, whose credibility is low and whose oversight capabilities are minimal, will be up to the task. End Comment. POWERS =======================CABLE ENDS============================