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Cablegate: Nnp Under Political Pressure: "I Was Fired By

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0289/01 0702201
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 102201Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2226
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000289

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, INL/LP
NSC FOR FISK/ALVARADO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2018
TAGS: NU PGOV PREL SNAR
SUBJECT: NNP UNDER POLITICAL PRESSURE: "I WAS FIRED BY
ORTEGA"

REF: MANAGUA 263

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Former Nicaraguan National Police (NNP)
Juvenile Affairs Chief Hamyn Gurdian privately confirmed
widespread speculation that his recent forced retirement, as
well as the retirements of four other senior NNP officials
(reftel), was indeed a political move and a "message" from
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega regarding his control over
the NNP. Gurdian asserted that NNP Chief Aminta Granera was
"extremely unhappy" about the dismissals but had no choice in
the situation. Despite her inability to prevent the
dismissals, though, Granera is still "loved and supported" by
all ranks of the NNP. It is clear, he continued, that Ortega
wants to attack the institutional independence and
professionalism of the NNP, but it will take much more than a
"small torpedo" like this attack - "Ortega would need (the
equivalent) of 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles to truly break us
apart." Gurdian also discounted Ortega's February 27
proclamation of direct authority over the Nicaraguan Army,
doubting that Ortega will have much success in attempting to
"shake the tree" and exercise direct control over the "much
stronger and more autonomous" Nicaraguan Army. End Summary.

- - - - - - - - - - -
A Surprise Dismissal
- - - - - - - - - - -

2. (C) Former NNP Juvenile Affairs Chief Hamyn Gurdian
privately told uQv+Q?'Hid not contravene any Nicaraguan laws, it was
"awkward and unusual" to force the retirement of five highly
regarded officers at his rank who still had potential to
advance further in the NNP. Gurdian added that, in the
context of Ortega's recent statements about his direct
control of the NNP (reftel), the message from these
dismissals is clear: "I am in charge here." Gurdian asserted
that NNP Chief Aminta Granera was "extremely unhappy" about
the dismissals but had no choice in the situation. Despite
her inability to prevent the dismissals, though, Granera is
still "loved and supported" by all ranks of the NNP.

3. (C) Gurdian dismissed media reports that he had been
removed due to his strong affiliation with the Church of the
Assemblies of God. (Note: A senior Assemblies of God pastor
in the United States called Gurdian during the meeting with
Poloff, evidently to express his sympathy and support for
Gurdian's plight.) Gurdian claimed that he did not wish to
engage in "endless speculation" regarding the actual reasons
for his release, but he then related an account of a previous
confrontation he had with Daniel Ortega that may have
contributed to the current situation. In 1994, Gurdian was
in charge of the NNP's riot unit (or "Anti-Disturbance
Unit"), often working to quell Sandinista-organized riots.
In response to Gurdian's success in suppressing the riots,
Ortega made a personal visit to his office to deliver a
warning - "You are making a serious mistake." Having earned
Ortega's personal and apparently unrelenting enmity, Gurdian
was soon afterwards removed from his position as chief of the
unit.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bent, Battered, But Not Broken
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) Gurdian also confirmed the veracity of media reports
that Ortega had used NNP retirement guidelines in an attempt
to force NNP Chief Aminta Granera to retire after her 30
years of service, an attempt which she successfully rebuffed.
Despite the move against Granera, and Ortega's subsequent
success in directly orchestrating the forced retirements,
Gurdian remained optimistic about the future of the NNP as an
independent and non-politicized organization. The NNP must
respond like sugarcane in a hurricane, he explained, perhaps

bruised, battered, and bent to the extreme, but never
breaking. After Ortega lost the Presidency to Violeta
Chamorro, he continued, many of the "true believer"
Sandinista NNP officials also ended up leaving the
organization by the late 1990s, leaving in their wake a
largely non-political and highly professional corps. As
such, Gurdian asserted, the recent forced retirements have
only slightly damaged the independence of the NNP, as much as
a "small torpedo." Gurdian opined that it was clear that
Ortega wants to attack the institutional independence and
professionalism of the NNP. However, to truly break the
standards of NNP independence and professionalism, Ortega
needs to use the equivalent of "40 Tomahawk cruise missiles"
to completely destroy the NNP institution before he can truly
bend it to his will. As long as Aminta remains as chief of
the NNP, Gurdian concluded, the organization will "continue
as before" Gurdian also commented on Ortega's February 27
proclamation of direct authority over the Nicaraguan Army,
expressing his doubt that Ortega will be successful in
"shaking the tree" to establish direct control over the "much
stronger and more autonomous" Nicaraguan Army.

- - - -
Comment
- - - -

5. (C) Gurdian's comments serve to confirm our growing
concern regarding Ortega's desire to politicize and control
the NNP. With this and other recent developments in the NNP
(reftel), we find it difficult to share Gurdian's optimism
over the long-term prospects of the NNP as a purely
professional and non-political entity. We agree that the key
lies with NNP Chief Aminta Granera - as long as she remains
in power, the NNP will be able to offer resistance to
Ortega's machinations. How long she will be able to remain
in her position, however, is another matter altogether.
There is no doubt that her successor will be selected by
Ortega and will likely be more malleable to his political
whims. A key question is how long Aminta can stay at the
helm. Despite the fact that her term does not end until
2010, she has already passed the official mandatory
retirement age of 55 (she is 56) and next year will have
served 30 years, the other mandatory retirement trigger.
This regulatory dual sword of Damocles makes it increasingly
unlikely that she will last until the end of her term.

TRIVELLI

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