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Cablegate: Codel Nelson Meets with Opposition Leader Eduardo

VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0539/01 0591559
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281559Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9269
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0975
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0025
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000539

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND H

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR OVIP NU
SUBJECT: CODEL NELSON MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADER EDUARDO
MONTEALEGRE


Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (C) Summary: Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) leader
Eduardo Montealegre advised Senator Nelson that President
Ortega is struggling against competing interests within the
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and may find
governing more difficult when he is unable to comply with his
campaign promise of "zero unemployment," especially if
promised Venezuelan assistance fails to materialize. To
counter Venezuelan influence, Montealegre stated that
regional powers such as Mexico and Colombia should become
more active in regional policy development and promoting
trade networks. He advised the USG to focus on "visible"
assistance projects in addition to institutional development.
On the domestic side, Montealegre acknowledged that a
unified opposition in the National Assembly would constitute
the only effective barrier to Ortega's totalitarian
ambitions, but that Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) leader
Arnoldo Aleman continues to be the primary obstacle to
Liberal cooperation. End Summary.

2. (C) ALN leader Eduardo Montealegre received Codel Nelson
and emboffs at his residence on February 18 to discuss the
future of the Ortega administration and the role of the
Nicaraguan opposition. Montealegre's brother-in-law and
political supporter Donald McGregor also attended the
meeting. (Comment: Montealegre's ALN controls 23 of 92 seats
in the Nicaraguan National Assembly, and Montealegre won
second place in a field of five presidential candidates last
November. Montealegre is currently attempting to position
himself as the leader of a unified opposition -- including
the PLC and Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) -- with a
majority of 51 votes. End Comment.)

3. (C) Senator Nelson asked Montealegre about his views on
the future course of President Daniel Ortega, who has made
overtures both to the United States and to extremist regimes
in Iran and Venezuela. Montealegre responded that Ortega is
pulled in different directions by factions within the FSLN,
which include pro-U.S./free market groups (headed by his wife
and chief of staff Rosario Murillo), as well as left-wing
radicals urging him to form anti-U.S. alliances with
Venezuela and Iran. He added, however, that vastly improved
access to information through the internet would impede a
regression to a repressive 1980s-style dictatorship.

4. (C) Montealegre opined that Ortega will find reconciling
these interests and governing the country more difficult if
he cannot make significant progress on his campaign promises
-- especially "zero unemployment." Montealegre noted that
120,000 new job seekers enter the market each year, the vast
majority of whom will not find employment without private
sector investment.

5. (C) In response to a question from Senator Nelson on how
the USG can best counter growing Venezuelan influence in
Nicaragua, Montealegre urged the USG to convince regional
powers such as Mexico and Colombia to take a more active role
in Central America regarding regional trade and policy
development. In addition, Montealegre suggested that the
U.S. focus more on "visible" assistance projects, such as
schools and housing, to win the battle for Nicaraguans'
hearts and minds. He specifically mentioned a project to
provide corrugated zinc roofs for poor Nicaraguans, which he
believes would generate considerable good will for a
relatively low-cost expenditure.

6. (C) Domestically, Montealegre stated that the
opposition-controlled National Assembly is "the key to
moderating Ortega's totalitarian tendencies." He commented
that ex-President, convicted money launderer, and PLC leader
Arnoldo Aleman is the primary obstacle to Liberal
unification. Despite the PLC's pressure to quickly achieve
institutional unification (under Aleman's rules), Montealegre
believes that a common legislative agenda between the two
independent parties would build confidence and gradually
reduce Aleman's influence.

7. (C) Later in the meeting, Senator Nelson asked Montealegre
his opinion of USG policy towards Cuba, noting that older
Cuban exiles tend to take a hard line regarding the trade
embargo and flow of remittances, while the younger generation
favors more openness. Montealegre commented that, in his
opinion, the trade embargo has favored European and Canadian
investors without hurting the Castro regime. Recounting his
experiences returning to Nicaragua from exile in the early
1990s, Montealegre said that change must come from within
Cuba, and the exiles must be prepared to work with those who
stayed instead of thinking that they will "rescue" the
country.

8. (U) Participants:

Nicaragua:

ALN President Eduardo Montealegre
Donald McGregor

USG:

Senator Bill Nelson
Mrs. Grace Nelson
Ms. Caroline Tess
Ms. Sherry Davich
Captain Gene Moran
Ambassador Paul Trivelli
DCM Peter Brennan
Polcouns Victoria Alvarado
Poloff Timothy L. Smith, note taker
Poloff Irene Marr, control officer

9. (U) This cable was cleared by Codel Nelson.
TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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