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Cablegate: Centam Chiefs of Mission Bewildered by Ortega's

VZCZCXRO4357
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0784/01 0822051
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 232051Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9592
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1023
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000784

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR ECON KDEM NU XK
SUBJECT: CENTAM CHIEFS OF MISSION BEWILDERED BY ORTEGA'S
"DOUBLE DISCOURSE"

REF: MANAGUA 0140

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

1. (C) Summary: Central American COMs in Nicaragua agree that
the Ortega administration is pursuing a "double discourse" in
foreign and economic policy, which makes predicting a future
trajectory difficult. They have also been perturbed by
protocol irregularities, including a delay in the
accreditation of the new ambassador from Costa Rica.
Nevertheless, Costa Rica in particular is prepared to assist
Nicaragua if the administration proves that it is serious
about development and poverty reduction. End Summary.

2. (C) Ambassador Trivelli hosted a second breakfast for a
group of Central American COMs on March 22 to discuss
developments in the progress of President Daniel Ortega's
administration. The following Chiefs of Mission attended the
breakfast:

- Costa Rica: Antonio Tacsan Lam
- El Salvador: Jose Roberto Lasala (Charge)
- Honduras: Jorge Milla
- Guatemala: Jorge Echeverria
- Panama: Miguel Lecaro

3. (C) The ambassadors admitted that they are confused by and
skeptical over the Ortega administration's often conflicting
messages and signals. For example, President Ortega hosts
Hugo Chavez and lambastes the U.S. while Foreign Minister
Samuel Santos exalts a "positive, respectful, and healthy"
relationship with the same country. In the case of Honduras,
Ortega spoke of Central American brotherhood privately with
President Zelaya, but now attacks Honduras regularly over
border disputes and military procurements. The ambassadors
concurred that Ortega is merely paying lip service to
regional integration. Guatemalan Ambassador Echeverria
mentioned that Ortega has sent lower-ranking officials or
abstained from recent summits on Central American
integration, despite official declarations supporting the
project.

4. (C) Several of the Ambassadors reported that the Foreign
Ministry is often woefully ignorant of Presidential
activities and noted protocol irregularities committed by the
government. Costa Rican Ambassador Antonio Tacsan Lam, who
has been present in Nicaragua for two months, has yet to
receive his accreditation. (Note: Tacsan Lam indicated that
Costa Rica was quietly holding back on accreditation on
Nicaragua's new ambassador in San Jose until the issue is
resolved. End Note.) In contrast, the Cuban and Libyan
ambassadors were in country for less than a week before being
accredited. Both the Panamanian and Guatemalan ambassadors
have received "confidential" requests for agrement for the
new ambassadors that Nicaragua is proposing to send to their
countries -- and these "secret" designates have shown up on
their doorsteps seeking advice on their new posts.

5. (C) Ambassador Tacsan Lam commented that Ortega is "a
reality that we must live with," and that Costa Rica is
prepared to assist Nicaragua if Ortega is "truly interested
in development." According to Tacsan Lam, improving primary
education is key to reducing poverty in Nicaragua. Depending
on the future context of bilateral relations, he may propose
exchanging Nicaraguan debt to Costa Rica for a matching
investment in primary education and will also consider
development assistance for the border area between the two
countries.

6. (C) Towards the end of the meeting, Panamanian Ambassador
Lecaro mentioned the country-wide expansion of convicted PLC
leader Arnoldo Aleman's medical parole and reminded the group
that the Nicaraguans have an outstanding arrest order from
his government. Lecaro agreed with rumors that Aleman is
rebuilding his base of support for a possible presidential
run in 2011. Shaking his head, Lecaro remark that "if Aleman
is elected President, I will rip up my credentials and go
home." Nevertheless, Lecaro acknowledged that his government
is unlikely to push for Aleman's incarceration or deportation.

7. (C) Comment: After almost three months, there is no love
lost between Ortega and the Central American ambassadors,
regardless of their respective governments position on the
ideological spectrum. They regard the administration as
disorganized and increasingly obedient to the whims of Chavez
and his Bolivarian Revolution. They nevertheless concede the
necessity of working with their neighbor on regional security
and development.
TRIVELLI

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