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Cablegate: Opposition Labor Pushes for Liberal Unity

VZCZCXYZ0026
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1482/01 1631823
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121823Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0497
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 001482

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN SCHIFFER, DRL FOR MAGGIO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2017
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL ELAB
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION LABOR PUSHES FOR LIBERAL UNITY

REF: MANAGUA 1083

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Liberal labor federation Permanent
Workers' Congress (CPT) seeks to form a "Pro Unity
Committee" to create a unified Liberal platform and break
the political impasse between the Nicaraguan Liberal
Alliance (ALN) and the Liberal Constitutionalist Party
(PLC). CPT leaders worry that Liberal disunity is
weakening their federation while bolstering Sandinista
unions. They believe that democracy in Nicaragua cannot
wait for Liberal leaders to resolve personal differences
and that a "bottom-up" social movement, led by organized
labor, is essential to jump-start Liberal unity. We will
monitor this initiative and work to facilitate dialog with
other democratic civil society groups as needed. END
SUMMARY.

Liberal Disunity Hurting Democratic Unions
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (C) In a June 6 meeting with poloff, leaders of the CPT
labor federation expressed their frustration over the
inability of the PLC and ALN to unify into a single Liberal
opposition block. They complained that while the two
parties bicker and posture, Sandinista President Daniel
Ortega continues to consolidate his control of the
country. As democratic union leaders, they are acutely
concerned with his consolidation efforts within the
organized labor sector. Leaders claim that CPT-affiliated
union leaders and members -- especially in ministries and
State institutions -- are being fired, discriminated
against, and pressured to join the National Workers'
Federation (FNT), the Sandinista labor federation.
Further, CPT leaders claim that ministers and heads of
autonomous State agencies are bringing in Sandinista union
organizers and actively advocating for
Sandinista-affiliated unions, leaving employees with the
impression that their membership is obligatory.

Unions Advocate "Bottom-Up" Approach
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) CPT leaders characterized the current Liberal
stalemate as a battle of wills between the leaders of the
two parties - Eduardo Montealegre (ALN) and Arnoldo Aleman
(PLC) - and that all of Nicaragua is paying the price.
They lamented that neither one is "worth the price" that
society is paying as their battle continues. In an attempt
to break the stalemate, CPT recently met with leaders of
both parties' National Assembly caucuses to promote the
idea of a "Pro Unity Committee" as a way of breaking the
current political impasse.

4. (C) This CPT-led initiative would bring together
leaders from both parties, civil society (i.e., labor), and
the private sector to hammer-out a unified Liberal agenda
that would then be formally presented to the ALN and PLC
leadership. CPT leaders envision an assembly of up to 400
leaders from these various sectors working in groups to
develop various elements of the platform.

5. (C) CPT leaders are convinced that a "bottom-up"
approach -- using organized labor as the central catalyst
and organizing element -- is the only way to kick-start the
unification process. They hold that creating momentum
outside the political arena will work to "pull" political
leaders into a labor / civil society movement vs. waiting
for political leaders to resolve their differences and
"push" the opposition movement from the top-down.

Comment
- - - -

6. (C) Faced with daily complaints from their labor
affiliates of firings and pressure, CPT leaders are very
concerned about losing their membership base and frustrated
with Liberal political leaders whose inaction and lack of
leadership, they believe, is enabling Ortega's labor allies
to operate with impunity. As Nicaragua's biggest
non-Sandinista labor federation, CPT's leaders believe they
have the clout, connections, and membership to force
Liberal unification from the bottom-up. The problem is,
CPT has scant resources to organize even on a small scale.
Thus, it is unclear how they plan to organize and support
this 400-person Pro Unity Committee, and how they plan to
mount and sustain a pro-democracy movement long enough to
draw in enough other disenfranchasized labor organizations,
civil society groups, and private sector players to create
the critical mass necessary to convince Liberal political
leaders from both the ALN and PLC to come on board.

7. (C) That CPT is actively promoting the Pro Unity
Committee idea demonstrates their fear of the sea change
underway in the labor sector. Post will continue to
monitor their progress and, to the extent possible, help
facilitate the involvement of other union organizations,
and civil society groups that have independently approached
the Embassy voicing similar concerns of disenfranchisement.
In addition, post will coordinate with the Nicaraguan
Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CPDH), Nicaragua's
leading human rights advocate, which has begun an
independent labor consolidation initiative centered around
the Unified Teachers Union (USM) (reftel). Finally, post
will forward to the desk and DRL a CPT proposal for a
nationwide intensive capacity building program designed to
help fortify and energize its democratic labor base, both
essential steps in motivating and, if necessary, mobilizing
its work force to drive Liberal unity from the bottom up.
Post strongly urges immediate consideration of this
proposal.

TRIVELLI

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