Features — 09 July 2016
General Ricardo Bustamante and Jimmy Morales’ juntita

(Ed. NOTE: Below we reproduce the last part of an article originally printed in the Wednesday, July 6, 2016 edition of Amandala. The importance of this portion of the article is because of its reference to Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales. The article was originally published on June 16, 2016 in the Guatemalan newspaper, El Periódico.)

Ricardo Bustamante

Of the four members of the Juntita, Bustamante is the most experienced and the only one with the rank of general. He was trained from the 70s and 80s, when he was a lieutenant, in counterintelligence under the command of General Manuel Antonio Callejas and Francisco Ortega Menaldo. During the armed conflict he was in charge of a clandestine torture center known as La Isla (zone 6). He also served in the Traveling Military Police.

In the 90s, in the government of Ramiro de León, he was peacemaker between Otto Pérez and Francisco Ortega, preventing their differences from evolving into more. He belonged to the “Brotherhood” also known as the “Lifeguard Group” and later on to downplay it, as the Red Moreno Network, one of the oldest structures of smuggling and tax fraud, which was partially dismantled in 1996.

In times of former President Colom, he controlled the Ministry of Defence through one of his stalwarts, General Tulio García Franco, alias Mouse. He was director of the Escuela Politécnica in 2001 and 2002.

Bustamante understood the importance of the academy as a lever of power, both to train soldiers in civilian careers, as well as to recruit civilians to security and defense posts which increasingly had to be shared by the military. So he managed scholarships and promoted careers in various universities. One of his trusted people in this administration, graduated with that profile, the Uruguayan naturalized Guatemalan Grisel Capo, a senior official of the Secretariat of Strategic Intelligence (Secretaría de Inteligencia Estratégica, SIE).

While he was the technical secretary of the Security Council, with Otto Pérez, which was the height of his influence in the State, he promoted a Ph.D. in Strategic Security at the University of San Carlos, which saw the enrolment of many characters interested in political and military connections to access positions of public influence. Among those characters were Jimmy Morales and several of those who are now part of his administration, such as Foreign Minister Carlos Raúl Morales.

For President Morales, General Bustamante is a “guru” who taught him what he knows of State. Bustamente also cultivates relationships with personalities from the private sector and in this government his main influence is in the field of intelligence: the Secretariat of State Intelligence (Secretaría de Inteligencia de Estado, SIE), the DIGICI and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (D­2). The SIE is run by Mario Duarte, married to his niece Brenda Zaldaña Bustamante, daughter of Hugo Zaldaña Rojas (Class of 68) under trial for the case Molina Theissen. Duarte, along with Grisel Capo, managed a company for General Bustamante, DMC, which undertook intelligence, strategic consulting, technology, communication and risk management.

Bustamante assures Jimmy Morales that all appointments he suggests in government have the approval of the Embassy, and indeed his people assure in front of third parties that they work for the United States. For now, given that the Juntita is going through a period of internal strife, Bustamante approached Little Dagger Ovalle for whom he provides information and intelligence.

Finally, Bustamante is about to replace Silvia de Leon in the Technical Secretariat of the National Security Council, to appoint the retired general Luis Cámbara Deras. To avoid complaints of nepotism he will transfer from his sister Mireya from the Technical Secretariat to the SIE.

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