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Cablegate: Martinelli's Security Leadership and Strategy

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #0626/01 2291910
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 171910Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3664
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2841
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 0798
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0644
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 3853
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 2039
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR 1569
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 0439
RHMFISS/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH
RUEABND/DEA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

S E C R E T PANAMA 000626

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PM
SUBJECT: MARTINELLI'S SECURITY LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGY
REMAIN UNCLEAR

REF: PANAMA 00571

Classified By: Ambassador Barbara J. Stephenson for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

--------------------------
Security Leadership Muddle
--------------------------

1. (S//NF) Six weeks into the Martinelli Administration,
the make up of the GOP security leadership is complicated and
unclear. The Minister of Government and Justice Jose Raul
Mulino is exerting control over formal communications between
the Embassy and the various security services, but there is
little sign that the MOGJ is exerting either strategic or
tactical control over the security services. Individual
service chiefs, including Panamanian National Police (PNP)
Director Gustavo Perez, National Aero-Naval Service (SENAN)
Director Rigoberto Gordon, and National Frontier Service
(SENAFRONT) Director Frank Abrego seem to be treating the
MOGJ only as an administrative facilitator to process budget
requests. On operational issues, both tactical and strategic,
they are acting on their own, with minimal coordination among
themselves, and with no strategic leadership from above. What
coordination there is among security services, is usually the
result of Embassy intervention. Multiple sources report that
the service chiefs and other officials responsible for
security are under intense pressure from President Martinelli
to deliver immediate results.

2. (S//NF) This situation has been exacerbated by the
creation of the Secretariat for Security in the Ministry of
the Presidency, to which former drug prosecutor Jose Almengor
was recently appointed. Vice Minister of Government and
Justice for Security Alejandro Garuz told PolOff August 3
that Almengor's job description was very similar to his own,
and that the Minister of Government and Justice, Jose Raul
Mulino, was not sure what Almengor's job was, or how it would
effect the Vice Ministry of Security. Jaime Trujillo,
Executive Secretary of the Council for Public Security and
National Defense (CSPDN or Consejo), told EmbOff August 8
that Almengor was "just Jimmy's security advisor" in
reference to Minister of the Presidency Jimmy Papadimitriu,
and did not have a significant security role. Mulino was
later quoted in the newspaper suggesting that Almengor's
office might become the nucleus of a future Ministry of
Security.

--------------------------------------------- -
Varela Concerned, Plans to Play a Greater Role
--------------------------------------------- -

3. (S//NF) VP/FM Juan Carlos Varela told the Ambassador
August 4 that he was concerned about the fragmented and
chaotic manner in which security policy was being made. He
said that there was a struggle for power over the security
apparatus between Mulino and Papadimitriu, and that as a
result he intended to intervene and take personal control of
the security issue. He asked the Ambassador to coordinate the
Embassy's security agenda directly with him in bi-monthly
meetings.

--------------
Mulino's Role?
--------------

4. (S//NF) On July 24 Charge met with Mulino to get a read
out of his recent trip to Colombia, where press reports
indicated security agreements had been reached. In a two hour
meeting, Mulino described at length the Colombian prison
system, and how he hoped to improve the Panamanian prison
system. Mulino made general remarks about the high level of
the Colombian delegation, but did not elaborate on any
agreements, and stayed focused solely on prisons. According

to Manuel Zambrano, the new Director of the Integral Security
Program (PROSI) at MOGJ, the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) is investing in an analytical and strategic planning
unit in the MOGJ as part of the $20 million loan the IDB gave
Panama several years ago to improve citizen security. While
this unit could be very helpful, Mulino's apparent weakness
on security issues calls into question whether such a unit
will be able to play a useful role without an empowered
minister.

-----------------------
Trujillo Up to the Job?
-----------------------

5. (S//NF) During most of the Torrijos Administration, the
security coordinating role largely fell to the Consejo, where
Secretary General Erik Espinosa and his deputy Javier
Fletcher maintained tight operational control over all the
security services, and coordination with the USG. While they
were effective in some ways, their somewhat unsavory
reputation led Colombia and Mexico to restrict their security
cooperation with Panama, all of which had to run through
Consejo. Martinelli's removal of both men apparently prompted
better cooperation with Colombia. However, it is not clear
that Trujillo, who until July 1 was the head of security at
Martinelli's Super 99 super market chain, is really up to the
job. There are indications that the new deputy, Aldo Macre,
may be very competent, and that he has a very good working
relationship with Trujillo. Nevertheless, it remains to be
seen how much power he will have to pull the security
apparatus together in a coherent way.

-----------------------
McKinsey to the Rescue?
-----------------------

6. (S//NF) The GOP has hired the U.S. consulting company
McKinsey to help them with strategic planning. They are
working on a government wide proposal, and one specifically
aimed at improving the security system. Post is cooperating
closely with McKinsey, which is basing its recommendations on
the same set of best practices Post has used (focus on gang
prevention, community policing, strengthening the police as
an institution, including effective internal affairs), in the
hope that the government will accept the advice for which
they are paying.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (S//NF) It is unclear to Post if Varela can bring
coherence to the GOP security muddle, but he is smart,
rational, and clearly committed to strengthening Panama's
democratic institutions, so we will do our best to help him
succeed. Given the weak and muddled security leadership at
the moment, Post will proceed cautiously as we build up high
level GOP support for our various security initiatives,
knowing that a "yes" from one actor may have no buy-in beyond
that actor. We will keep all USG entities informed about
progress in developing a coherent security strategy in order
to minimize the risk of USG entities getting drawn into
uncoordinated and potentially harmful initiatives - and there
is no shortage of them at this early stage of the Martinelli
government.

STEPHENSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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