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Cablegate: Aln Seeks Assistance to Maintain Momentum, Prepare

VZCZCXRO6762
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0493/01 0550009
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 240009Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9209
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0969
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000493

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM NU PREL
SUBJECT: ALN SEEKS ASSISTANCE TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM, PREPARE
FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

REF: MANAGUA 0471

Classified By: Charge d,Affaires a.i. Peter M. Brennan. Reasons 1.4 (B
,D).

1. (C) Summary: The Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) is in
debt from its campaign commitments and urgently needs funding
to maintain its momentum, enable leader Eduardo Montealegre
to emerge as the uncontested leader of the opposition, and
prepare for the 2008 municipal elections. The ALN planning
coordinator and its treasurer recently reported that many ALN
supporters are hard pressed to support their families and are
seeking other options because government positions are closed
to them. The ALN planning coordinator attributes much of the
party's difficulties to its lack of organization and
cohesion, but assert that the ALN needs funds and capacity
building to resolve these issues. The party is upgrading its
website to allow people in Nicaragua and abroad to contribute
on line. The Charge outlined the kinds of U.S. training
opportunities and encouraged the ALN to consider establishing
a 501 (c) (3) foundation to support the party. ALN leaders
met with POL and USAID the following day to explore training
options in more detail. End Summary.

ALN Confronts Campaign Debt, Cash Flow Problems
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (C) ALN Planning Coordinator Kitty Monterrey and
Treasurer Roberto Serrano warned Charge and PolCouns on
February 20 that, although ALN presidential candidate Eduardo
Montealegre placed second in the November race and he is
considered to be the most prominent opposition leader by far,
the party is in debt from its campaign commitments to a tune
of $1.5 million. Monterrey stated that the party's creditors
(mostly media) are patient, and the news of the debt has not
leaked to the public, while ALN caucus Assembly deputies and
party headquarter employees are each contributing 4,000
cordobas (about $220) per month towards debt payment.

3. (C) Monterrey explained that the ALN urgently needs
funding to keep afloat -- at least $75,000 per month to run
its headquarters -- plus robust training in party
organization and strengthening, communications strategy,
leadership, polling, community outreach, and training of ALN
legislators. Monterrey and Serrano voiced frustration that
the ALN is unable to help its supporters -- who are hard
pressed to support their families -- because the party enjoys
no access to government jobs and does not have a budget to
hire people. Regarding the ALN's departmental and municipal
offices, Monterrey said local party supporters along with the
private sector are defraying these expenses.

Matching Party Strengthening Needs with Training Options
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) Monterrey attributed much of her party's difficulties
to its lack of organization and cohesion, but again, asserted
that without funds and capacity building, the ALN will be
unable to resolve these issues. The Charge mentioned the
IRI-USAID training of National Assembly lawmakers, most of
whom were members of the ALN caucus, as the type of
assistance we can provide. Monterrey commented that the
training would have been more beneficial if it had been open
to members of party leadership, not exclusively lawmakers.
She recommended that an organized training strategy with
party leadership participation would be helpful. The Charge
suggested that Monterrey meet with POL and USAID to explore
training options and how to effectively coordinate them.

Clarifying Party-Civil Society Relations
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (C) Citing the Ambassador's recent op-ed on civil
society, Monterrey praised the Ambassador's message, but
opined that it does not completely reflect the harsh reality.
For example, the previous day the National Assembly had
approved the registration of 113 NGOs, and 99% are associated
with the FSLN, said Monterrey. She next raised the
relationship of civil society organizations and her party,
sharing her concern that some NGOs that claim to support the
ALN's political position do not and may not be contributing
to defending or strengthening Nicaragua's democracy.
Instead, some of these groups respond to the interests of

MANAGUA 00000493 002 OF 002


individual party politicians, ALN National Assembly Deputy
Eliseo Nunez, Sr., for example. The Charge clarified that we
are aware of Sandinista control of the vast majority of
Nicaraguan NGOs and that the purpose of the Ambassador's
piece was to let it be known that if President Ortega takes
the path of Chavez vis-s-vis independent NGOs, we will not
remain silent, and we are committed to helping independent
NGOs. (Comment: NGO competition over limited donor funds
appears to be at an all-time high, placing the newer,
independent NGOs at a disadvantage over the more experienced
and savvy FSLN-associated groups. The latter know how to
write proposals that will attract donors, while the former
are inexperienced in the tradecraft.)

6. (C) Monterrey offered to forward a comprehensive list of
NGOs that indeed support ALN efforts, mentioning the NGOs 11
de Julio (11th of July) and la Cruzada por la Democracia
(Crusade for Democracy) as among those close to the ALN. She
acknowledged that to the degree her party consolidates and
resolves its internal conflicts, its relationship with civil
society groups will be clearer and more constructive. The
Charge explained that our democracy assistance package
includes components to help civil society, capacitate
democratically committed political parties, and defend
independent media, clarifying that we do not/not provide
direct assistance to political parties. To maximize these
limited resources, it behooves the ALN to improve its
communications with NGOs, the Charge suggested.

Party Financing - Foreign and Domestic Support
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) Returning to the ALN's financial needs, Serrano, who
handled Montealegre's fundraising campaign, recounted that he
had maintained a low-profile during the campaign, but now as
ALN treasurer and member of the board of directors, he will
assume a more public profile. Part of his new activities
include upgrading the party web site to allow people in
Nicaragua and abroad to contribute on line to the ALN,
including monthly plans, if they so wish. The Charge
encouraged Serrano to explore establishing a 501 (c) (3)
foundation -- like the Nicaraguan-American Foundation -- to
support the party and offered to look into arranging a
voluntary visitor program for Serrano so he could meet with
U.S. fundraising experts.

8. (C) On the subject of domestic support for the ALN,
Serrano shared his disappointment over Nicaragua's business
elite and the failure of some, like Carlos Pellas and Ramiro
Ortiz, to deliver on their campaign finance commitments to
Montealegre. Fortunately, some of the smaller financiers
were more forthcoming, said Serrano, who recognized that
smaller donations from many sources can also help a campaign.
He also confirmed that the Foro Liberal group will assist
with fundraising. The support would enable the ALN to cover
its monthly costs so it may maintain its momentum and emerge
as the clear opposition party. The party will also need
backing to prepare for the October 2008 municipal elections
-- including buying air time and radio frequencies. Serrano
suggested that our good offices with the private sector would
be helpful. Polcouns suggested Serrano approach other
embassies for assistance and the private sectors of
neighboring countries.

Comment
- - - -

9. (C) According to the latest Cid Gallup poll (Reftel),
Eduardo Montealegre leads the opposition. To take advantage
of his popularity, however, and to build up his party --
whose support, according to the same poll, has waned --
Montealegre must consolidate his leadership among the
opposition and the ALN must evolve from a campaign alliance
into a solid, well-equipped political machine. He will need
resources to achieve this objective. Poloffs and USAID
elections coordinator met with Monterrey on February 22 to
discuss training and other support options. Monterrey will
next meet with IRI and NDI country directors. We will also
follow up on capacity building for fundraisers and continue
to engage the local private sector.
BRENNAN

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