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Cablegate: Aln Planning Robust Opposition, but Starved For

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0982/01 1091533
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191533Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9862
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 000982

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: ALN PLANNING ROBUST OPPOSITION, BUT STARVED FOR
FUNDS

REF: MANAGUA 0953

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

1. (C) Summary: Leaders of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance
(ALN) are planning new strategies to confront the Ortega
administration, but the party faces a severe funding shortage
and considerable campaign debt. The party is conflicted on
how to approach the 2008 municipal elections and whether the
price for an alliance with the Liberal Constitutional Party
(PLC) would have to somehow include a role for convicted PLC
leader Arnoldo Aleman. End Summary.

2. (C) Ambassador and Emboffs met with ALN leaders Eduardo
Montealegre, Maria Eugenia Sequeira, and Kitty Monterrey on
April 17 to discuss the party's opposition plans and strategy
for the 2008 municipal elections. Other topics included
their recent IRI-sponsored meeting with PAN officials in El
Salvador (which they described as "excellent") and the
trumped-up charges the government plans to inveigh against
Montealegre for his alleged role in the Cenis banking
scandal. Sequeira asked us, after Montealegre left, to
provide "moral support" to him during this particularly
trying time.

Reluctant Donors Keep ALN on the Brink of Bankruptcy
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) Kitty Monterrey described the dire financial
circumstances of the party, which still carries $1.2 million
of debt from its 2006 campaign. Monterrey claimed that the
party needs at least $50,000 per month to maintain a minimal
presence and structure, and $100,000 per month to challenge
the dominance of the established parties and pay off debt.
Some months, she admitted, the party only receives $4,000 for
operating expenses.

4. (C) Monterrey explained that the main problem is that
potential contributors are afraid of persecution from
FSLN-controlled judges, police, and municipalities if they
are associated with the ALN. Montealegre commented that the
FSLN is monitoring the communications of all government
employees, creating an atmosphere of intimidation. They
again requested our assistance in convincing the private
sector to support the ALN.

Plans to Sustain Party and Confront Ortega
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (C) Despite the ALN's precarious financial situation,
Monterrey and Sequeira continue to seek NGO-sponsored
projects to keep the party active and responsive to the
community. They are designing a media campaign using ALN
deputies and local leaders to get the party's message on the
airwaves.

6. (C) Montealegre plans to confront the Ortega
administration in his role as Assembly deputy by refusing to
meet with any government officials in FSLN headquarters and
by rejecting any official correspondence with the new emblem
that violates the constitution. (He said the ALN will propose
a bill naming the Taiwan-donated building as the official
office of the Presidency). Montealegre will encourage the
international community to take the same stance. Montealegre
believes that the best way to weaken Ortega is by emphasizing
his pact with Aleman and the fact that this "prisoner" is now
able to move freely about the country. Montealegre opined
that the donors should threaten to cut off budget support
unless Aleman is returned to house arrest.

Unity With PLC is "Impossible Without Aleman"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) Montealegre admitted that the ALN is divided on how to
approach the municipal elections. Some Liberals, including
many in the private sector, insist on unity to confront the
FSLN, regardless of Aleman's role or influence. Others
reject Aleman completely and believe that the ALN should
focus on internal strengthening or possibly an alliance with
the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), while allowing the
PLC to whither. When asked about plans to promote unity at
the municipal level (reftel), Montealegre skeptically
responded that unity with the PLC at any level is "impossible
without Aleman." Montealegre also warned that Ortega and
Aleman are scheming to postpone the municipal elections until
2011 to coincide with the presidential and National Assembly
elections, explaining that he had seen a copy of a letter

from Aleman to the mayor of Rivas instructing the mayor to
back this initiative.

8. (C) Sequeira was confident that the ALN could triumph in
the municipal elections by attracting disenchanted PLC
voters, and commented that any deal with Aleman would drive
away the ALN's core anti-pact constituency. Montealegre and
Monterrey were less optimistic, but did not present
alternative strategies. They agreed with us that the ALN
must begin to identify strong mayoral candidates to fortify
the party's position whether running independently or in an
alliance.

Comment
- - - -

9. (C) The ALN's weaknesses stem from insufficient financing,
but also a lack of organization that has left many motivated
and capable individuals underutilized. Sequiera and
Monterrey claimed that they are "doing everything" for the
party. This is not entirely true, but certainly a small
number of individuals make decisions and accomplish the vast
majority of the work. Montealegre could alleviate this
situation by empowering more deputies and party officials to
pursue key objectives. The technical assistance provided by
IRI may help overcome barriers of communication and trust
that have prevented this.
TRIVELLI

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