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Cablegate: Aln Must Embrace Local Leaders to Win Battle For

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0577/01 0612322
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 022322Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9324
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000577

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: ALN MUST EMBRACE LOCAL LEADERS TO WIN BATTLE FOR
LIBERAL LEADERSHIP

REF: A. MANAGUA 0543
B. MANAGUA 0487
C. MANAGUA 0331

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

1. (C) Summary: Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) deputy
Ramiro Silva believes that the ALN must work with local
Liberal elected officials in order to win the battle for
Liberal leadership with the Liberal Constitutional Party
(PLC) and consolidate opposition forces. Silva holds ALN
leader Eduardo Montealegre largely responsible for the
party's failure to capitalize on post-election discontent
with the PLC and attend to essential internal affairs. In
reference to intimidation tactics used by the Sandinista
Front (FSLN) against ALN members, Silva described a plan for
organized shake downs against property owners in the
department of Rivas, which could harm American investors as
well. End Summary.

2. (C) Poloff met with ALN deputy Ramiro Silva on February 28
to discuss ALN liaison with Liberal mayors prior to the 2008
municipal elections and the state of ALN party cohesion.
Silva, formerly a PLC youth leader in Managua, defected to
the ALN in 2005 to support Eduardo Montealegre's presidential
campaign. Victorious in the ALN's pre-election primaries to
select National Assembly candidates, he was one of the few
ALN leaders to effectively organize grassroots support for
the party. A young, dark-skinned colloquial Spanish-speaker
with a rheumy eye, the intelligent and energetic Ramirez
belies the ALN's reputation as a party for the white elites.

3. (C) On the question of Liberal unity and the PLC's
continued subservience to Aleman, Silva acknowledged that,
since the elections, many PLC deputies and local leaders have
become much more agitated with the Aleman-Ortega pact and
Ortega's totalitarian push. He commented that the Liberal
bases desire unity of the opposition, but without the
influence of Aleman or his cronies. Silva agreed that the
ALN must reach out to non-Arnoldista PLC deputies as well as
members of the Convergencia (refs B and C) uncomfortable with
Ortega's anti-democratic thrust.

4. (C) Silva energetically agreed that the ALN must cultivate
mayors and town councilors tired of PLC leader Arnoldo
Aleman's collaboration with President Ortega, especially
where the PLC dominated the Liberal voting bloc. He
commented that he already has a friendly relationship with
group leader Bronley Alvarez and would attend the meeting
with other ALN and PLC deputies scheduled for later in the
day (Ref A). Silva also concurred that the ALN's efforts to
cultivate elected Liberal officials at the local level has
been largely ineffective due to ALN deputy and mayoral
liaison Jamileth Bonilla's distraction with other issues and
her reputation as a political opportunist. He pledged to
work closely with the mayors in an effort to block Aleman's
pretensions to eliminate and subvert other leaders in the
Liberal camp.

5. (C) While discussing Bonilla's complicated role, Silva
blamed Montealegre for not solving the ALN's leadership
problems (primarily between Bonilla and fellow ALN
deputy/caucus chief Maria Eugenia Sequeira) and taking up the
mantle of opposition leader. Despite Montealegre's
assertions to the contrary, he repeated accusations that
Montealegre has been muzzled by FSLN threats to prosecute him
under charges related to the Cenis (bank bonds) scandal,
noting that Montealegre recently opposed a proposal by ALN
deputy Alejandro Bolanos to organize a protest march of
newly-fired public employees. Poloff responded that the ALN
deputies are not children and Montealegre is not their
father/caudillo -- they must take the initiative to resolve
personal differences for the good of the party and the
country and not depend on one person.

6. (C) Poloff mentioned that Alejandro Bolanos (head of the
National Assembly's Labor Commission) has been very assertive
on labor rights and even convinced Managua Archbishop
Leopoldo Brenes to publicly speak out on behalf of unjustly
fired government employees. Silva concurred and noted that
the FSLN has threatened to persecute Bolanos by using the
partisan and corrupt court system to contrive charges related
to the financing of his resort in Pueblo Viejo. Silva also
mentioned Bolanos' vulnerability through property owned in
the municipality of Tola (Rivas Department). He explained
that the Sandinista mayor of Tola has a "business deal" with
FSLN security chief Lenin Cerna, who controls the courts and
police, and her husband, who controls a gang of about 50
professional "land invaders," whereby the three identify
"soft target" property owners, invade their land under a
specious pretext, and then demand a payoff. The property
owners have no choice but to pay since the local government,
police, and judges are all involved in the scam.

7. (C) Comment: The ALN has so far failed to capitalize on
the mayors' and councilors' discontent with Aleman and their
ability to influence Liberal tendencies at the grass roots
level. The ultimate affiliation of the group led by Alvarez
will greatly influence the leadership struggle in the Liberal
camp and the outcome of the 2008 municipal elections. We
will continue to cultivate young leaders like Ramirez, who
are ambitious and relatively untainted by past power
struggles.
TRIVELLI

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