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City Council President Aponte Demands Answers for Elorza’s Guatemala Trip

Friday, August 21, 2015

 

Jorge Elorza, pictured in Guatemala.

Providence City Council President Luis Aponte said that it was "crazy" that Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza was meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, while the city was dealing with the sudden closure of its public swimming pools

"How come no one Googled this guy?" asked Aponte of Molina. "The first five things that come up are related to corruption."

GoLocal reported on Thursday that Molina's Vice President was forced to resign over a kickback scheme for imports, a corruption ring was being run by the Vice President’s private secretary, and the President's son-in-law was arrested in July for drug trafficking -- and the Guatemalan President has also been tied to war crimes - alleged murders during the country's civil war.

"The question for the Mayor becomes, did you know these things?  Who initiated the trip? How did you become involved in all of this?  That's what I want to know," said Aponte.  

Elorza, the son of Guatemalan immigrants, was on a trip to discuss trade ties, according to reports

The Mayor's office did not respond to request for comment on Thursday.    

Details Emerge

Aponte said that he had been aware that State Senator Juan Pichardo was going to Guatemala along with members of the Airport Corporation to discuss direct flights, but was unaware of Elorza's role.

Luis Aponte

"Why did Elorza go?  You can say that [Molina] is still the president but plenty of people haven't met with presidents of countries for similar reasons, take South Africa," said Aponte. "It's not like there's just allegations, a personal secretary in the administration was running a corrupt scam.  There's a UN investigation of war crimes that [Molina'] smack in the middle of.  How do refugees here feel about the visit?"

The AP reported in June that "unprecedented" protests had been taking place outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, increasing pressure on Molina

Angered by recent revelations of multimillion-dollar corruption scandals and emboldened by the jailing of dozens of suspects and the resignation of the vice president, the protesters show no sign of letting up. And they're bringing increasing pressure on the government, culminating in this week's Supreme Court ruling green-lighting a congressional inquiry that could lead to impeachment proceedings against Mr Perez Molina.

The issue of war crimes in Guatemala - and ties to Molina -- have been covered in U.S. press.  in 1999, President Clinton apologized to Guatemala for the U.S. role in backing the right-wing government during the civil war. 

Wrote Sonia Perez-Diaz for the Huffington Post in 2013:

A former soldier implicated Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina in civil war atrocities on Thursday during the trial of former U.S.-backed military strongman Efrain Rios Montt, proceedings that have heard witnesses recount a litany of horrors.

Hugo Reyes, a soldier who was a mechanic in an engineering brigade in the area where atrocities were carried out, told the court that Perez Molina, then an army major, ordered soldiers to burn and pillage during Guatemala's dirty war with leftist guerrillas in the 1980s.

A copy of Reyes testimony can be found here .

The military and the soldiers were under orders from Major Tito Arias, known as Otto Pérez Molina; the general, José Luis Quilo Ayuso and…the commanders of the engineer company coordinated the burning and looting of the people to execute them later

The Guatemalan press has covered Elorza's visit -- and relayed that the two leaders spoke about the conditions Guatemalan immigrants encountered in Providence.

Translated from the original text in Spanish in Latin America Central News, "President of Guatemala, US [talked] development projects for migrants" contains the following:

Perez Molina also appreciated the growing presence of the Guatemalan community in economic, commercial, political and social activities of the United States.

For his part, Mayor Elorza explained that among the projects promoted by his administration for the benefit of Guatemalan efforts to include access to public universities, health services of the city and obtaining driver's licenses.

 

Related Slideshow: Elorza Donors - See 25 Interesting Donors

The election for Mayor of Providence is less than four weeks away. Jorge Elorza raised nearly $200,000 in the latest filing.  See 25 of the most interesting donors to his campaign -- the rich, influential and infamous.

Prev Next

Chafee & Cicilline Aide

Deb Brayton

$600

Former top aide to Lincoln Chafee and David Cicilline is a big Elorza supporter (following Smiley's exit) and was part of the core group of the failed Anybody But Cianci effort.

She worked for Chafee in DC and came back to RI to serve as Chief of Staff for Cicilline during his tenure that created the City of Providence's fiscal meltdown.

Prev Next

Developer

Alfred Carpionato

$500

Carpionato is the mega developer who is one of the finalists to develop the 195 parcels -- and is the owner of the still yet-to-be developed Fruit and Produce warehouse site in Providence. 

He ranks 17th on GoLocal's list of RI's Richest and Most Influential. 

Prev Next

Widow of Kim Chace

Elizabeth Chace

$2,000

The founder of Residential Properties, Liz Chace has been active on reforming John Hope Settlement House - she was a former Board member.

Chace is the widow of billionaire Malcolm 'Kim' Chace III. 

Prev Next

Director

Michael Corrente

$1,000

Corrente is a film director. His films include Shot at Glory, American Buffalo, Outside Providence, Brooklyn Rules and Federal Hill.

He was one of the early organizers in the anti-Buddy Cianci group.

Corrente is being sued for $5 million.

Prev Next

Son of Governor

Dennis DiPrete

$250

DiPrete is the son of former Governor Edward DiPrete. His brother Tom has donated to Cianci.

Dennis is one of the state's most successful engineers and developers.

Prev Next

PR

Patricia Doyle

$1,000

Doyle's clients include Twin River Casino, Frank Caprio and the Airport Corporation. She was formerly a partner in RDW Group for a couple of decades.

Prev Next

Adrain's Campaign Manager

William Foulkes

$1000

Foulkes was the campaign manager for Lorne Adrain and a member of the ill-fated Anybody But Cianci group. Foulkes' wife, Helena, is a top executive at CVS and was recently named one of the top women in business in the US by Fortune magazine.

Prev Next

Developer

Aram Garabedian

$1000

Garabedian made millions with the malls in Warwick and downtown real estate like the former Amica building.

He was the biggest opponent of the development of the Providence Place Mall.

Prev Next

Gilbane

Nancy Gilbane

$1000

While William Gilbane of the mega-wealthy construction family is doanting and betting on Cianci, Nancy is going for Elorza. The family Gilbane has an estimated wealth of $1.4 billion. 

Prev Next

Former Top Cicilline Aide

Carol Grant

$1000

Former Chief Operating Officer for then-Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Grant was the go-to person in City Hall.

Previously, she had been an executive with Verizon, Textron and now she is with Second Wind.

Prev Next

Thomas Guerra

$500

While Tom donated to Elorza, his father and visionary behind the transformation of the former Brown & Sharpe complex into the leading live-work environment in the City of Providence - now the Foundry office complex and the Promenade apartments -- donated to Cianci. 

His family made GoLocal's Richest and Most Influential. 

Prev Next

Former Hosp. President

Constance Howes

$500

The former President of Women and Infants Hospital is now an executive with Care New England. Her husband Kelly Sheridan has ben a lobbyist for everything from the Providence Chamber to big tobacco.

#19 on GoLocal's ranking of the Richest and Most Influential. 

Prev Next

Waterfront

Chris Hunter

$500

Hunter is lead consultant for the Working Waterfront in Providence - the group is at the forefront of the battle between the pro-industrial users like Sims Metals (Elorza) and the mixed use plans of Cianci. This week the two Mayoral campaigns made charges and counter charges about what is the right plan for Allens Avenue and the Port of Providence. 

Prev Next

Founder of BIF

Saul Kaplan

$500

Saul Kaplan is emerging as the biggest thought leader in RI. His BIF Summit attracts many of the country and world's biggest thought leaders in business.

His Business Innovation Factory is a business think tank and consulting firm. He is the former EDC director and a business MINDSETTER™ to GoLocalProv.

Prev Next

Real Estate Mogul

Sally Lapides

$750

Lapides is the CEO at Residential Properties and was one of the organizers of the anti-Cianci group. She is recognized as a leader in the community and a major East Side influencer.

Prev Next

Set Designer

Eugene Lee

$750

Lee is a Tony Award winning theater designer. He started at Trinity and has designed TV sets for Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

He has designed many of Trinity's Reps' most elaborate sets.

Prev Next

Union Leader

Karen McAninch

$250

While police, fire, teachers, Teamsters and city workers' unions have gone with Cianci, McAnnich is one union leader to sign on with Elorza.

She is with the United Service and Allied Workers of RI.

Prev Next

Beer Distributor

Timothy Moran

$500

Moran's beer distribution company - McLaughlin & Moran - is one of the largest in the region. He has now relocated to Florida.

Prev Next

Taveras' Lawyer

Thomas Moses

$1000

Moses is the boss of the firm Moses & Alfonso - one of the top political firms in the City. Recently, the firm paid a $4.4 million settlement for the firms involvement with 38 Studios. 

The firm has been a strong supporter of sitting Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

Prev Next

Former Fleet Bank CEO

J. Terrence and Suzanne Murray

$2000

The former CEO of Fleet Bank built the bank into one of the largest in America before selling to Bank of America. The bank has the tenant at the now vacant Superman Building. Murray now lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

While the Murrays lives outside of RI for most of the year, they still ranked #36 in GoLocal's Richest and Most Influential.

Prev Next

Former GOP Leader

Lila Sapinsley

$500

Once the Minority Leader of the Senate Republicans in the 1980s, Sapinsley has been a leader in the moderate wing of the GOP in RI for years.

She was a regular guest on A Lively Experiment for more than a decade.

Prev Next

Former BankRI CEO

Merril Sherman

$1000

The former BANKRI CEO was once rumored to be a candidate for Mayor of Providence. Sherman has been active in politics and the community. 

She is now a special master in resolving the federal forclosure crisis. She ranks #23 on GoLocal's Richest and Most Influential.

Prev Next

Former Brown VP

Richard Spies

$120

Spies came to Brown from Princeton and served as the #2 for Ruth Simmons for a decade. He drove the negotiations with Cicilline and Taveras.

Spies continues to live in Providence.

Prev Next

Former Hasbro

Alfred Verrechia

$500

Verrechia was the longtime executive and ultimately CEO of Hasbro. 

Today, Verrecchia serves on the boards of Iron Mountain, FM Global and Lifespan -- and previously, RIEDC and CVS.

He ranks #20 on GoLocal's Richest and Most Influential. 

Prev Next

Super Lobbyist

Christopher Vitale

$1000

Vitale is a big time lobbyist up at the State House and close ally to former Speaker Gordon Fox. His Capitol City Group represents healthcare and energy clients. 

 
 

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