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Cablegate: Ngo Gives Ortega a Failing Grade On His First 60 Days

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0871/01 0932156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 032156Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9714
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000871

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON KDEM SOCI NU

SUBJECT: NGO GIVES ORTEGA A FAILING GRADE ON HIS FIRST 60 DAYS

1. (U) Summary: After a legal, economic and political analysis of
the Ortega administration's first sixty days, Movimiento por
Nicaragua (MpN), an influential civil society organization, gave the
government a failing grade. Analysts attacked the government's
numerous decrees and legislative initiatives that run counter to the
constitution and legal precedent, and its growing totalitarian
tendencies. An expert economist reported that the administration
has (so far) maintained economic policies similar to previous
governments, and will likely continue to be dependent on foreign
assistance. End Summary.

Legal Analysis
- - - - - - - -

2. (U) Dr. Gabriel Alvarez, a Constitutional Law specialist, based
his analysis on the proposed laws and regulations supported and
enacted by the Executive and Legislative branches. He noted that
six laws, twenty-three decrees and three presidential agreements
have been published since the inauguration, and that many of them
violate and/or contradict the Constitution and a number of existing
laws. The following examples highlight particularly egregious
transgressions:

A. Decree 02-2007, the President creates the "Latin American Unity"
Medal. According to Article 138.14 of the Constitution, only the
National Assembly is authorized to create honorific orders and other
distinctions of national character.

B. Decree 03-2007 contradicts Law 290, Article 11, where the
President of the Republic has the faculty to create as many
secretariats as he wants, but does not have the faculty to create
the so-called Councils, created in Article 1 of Decree 03-2007.

C. Presidential Agreement 16-2007 appoints Rosario Murillo as the
coordinator of the Council of Communication and Citizenry, violating
disposition of Article 11 of Law 438 "Law of Probity," which
explicitly establishes in numeral a. that the spouse or common-law
spouse cannot exercise public functions.

D. Law 610 "Reform of Ley Marco" Article 1, violates the
constitutional principle of superiority, established in Article 182
of the Constitution, as it postpones the entrance in force of Law
520 and other reforms.

E. Decree 6-2007 violates the autonomy laws of the North and South
Atlantic Autonomous Regions by establishing a "Council of
Development of the Caribbean Coast" to coordinate the consultation
processes of the regional governments.

F. Decree 10-2007 Reform of Decree 44-2004 in Article 6 grants
executive functions to the Coordinator of the Council of
Communication and Citizenry, concerning the official travel of
government officials, violating what is established in Law 612
"Reform to Law 290" Article 11, which states that councils cannot
perform any executive functions.

G. Decree 8-2007 that creates in Article 1 the National Council of
Reconciliation and Peace and grants executive faculties, such as
making policies, plans, programs and projects to be considered by
the National Assembly regarding peace, reconciliation and national
unity, violates the same law and article previously described.

3. (U) In addition, Dr. Alvarez criticized President Ortega's "total
disrespect for the legal structure," by illegally seizing control of
property from autonomous institutions, altering the National Seal in
violation of the constitution, and flouting the Cultural and
National Patrimony laws by giving away original manuscripts of famed
poet Ruben Dario. Dr. Alvarez also stated that the Sandinista
government's secretive communications policy violates the
constitution, which establishes the right to information of the
public regarding official activities. He characterized the
administration's actions as "crude illegality" - not a lack of
knowledge of legal techniques, but rather, an expression of
authoritarianism.

Political Analysis
- - - - - - - - - -

4. (U) Cesar Castillo Navas of Movimiento por Nicaragua described
the political acts of the President as authoritarian. He highlighted
the creation of illegal citizenry councils, Ortega's refusal to move
to the Presidential house, the taking over of the Olof Palme
Building, disrespect of the National Symbols, nepotism, the giving
away of cultural patrimony, and the appointment of Cardinal Miguel
Obando to a public position.

5. (U) According to Castillo, Ortega's rule has been largely
characterized by the concentration of power, secrecy and attacks on
freedom of speech, making international commitments without
consultation, erratic international relations, complaisance with
interventionist attitudes (regarding Venezuela), and intending
continuous re-election. Castillo also acknowledged a few "positive"
reforms, such as the reduction of public sector "mega salaries," the
elimination of extra fees for health care and education, and a
financial austerity policy.

6. (U) Dr. Castillo concluded by advising the government to respect
the constitutional order and laws and democratic freedoms,
contribute to the strengthening of a rule of law, maintain
respectful and harmonious relations with all countries, avoid
confrontational rhetoric at international level, and consult the
strategic decisions of the country with civil society. He also
urged the President to abandon any plans to constitutional reform
that would allow for presidential reelection.

Economic Analysis
- - - - - - - - -

7. (U) Economist Jose Luis Medal started his analysis by comparing
the Ortega's economic policy to previous governments. He concluded
that, while the administration has so far declined to state a
comprehensive economic policy beyond socialist platitudes, actions
to date in the realms of currency policy, credit policy, fiscal
policy, and external cooperation have remained largely consistent.
Medal predicted that the government would attempt to return to an
agro-export driven growth model, but would remain dependent on
foreign assistance.

8. (U) Dr. Medal noted that the government's current growth
projections are largely based on Venezuelan oil concessions and
direct financial aid, much of which is outside of the official
budget process. Despite the administration's praise of "Bolivarian
socialism," it continues to support regional free trade agreements
and has not implemented price or currency controls.

9. (SBU) Comment: Civil society's concern with Ortega's totalitarian
tendencies continues to grow. Six hundred people attended
Movimiento's presentation - an event that was planned for two
hundred. We will continue to support efforts to monitor and review
the administration at periodic intervals.

TRIVELLI

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