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Cablegate: Nicaraguan Resistance Party Remains Divided

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DE RUEHMU #0318/01 0741308
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P 141308Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000318

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ECON KDEM NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN RESISTANCE PARTY REMAINS DIVIDED

REF: A. 2007 MANAGUA 1592

B. MANAGUA 209

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN)
selected Julio Cesar Blandon as its new president in
mid-February after more than a year of turmoil within the
party's leadership structure. Blandon's election is unlikely
to bring party unity, as many members accuse him of entering
into a secret agreement with President Ortega to either sever
the PRN's traditional relationship with the Liberals or to
bring the party openly into Ortega's fold. As a first move,
Blandon announced that the PRN will run independently in
November's municipal elections. Critics insist that Blandon
does not control the party base, which will continue to
support Liberal alliance efforts. END SUMMARY.


New Resistance Party President Sympathetic With Sandinistas?
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2. (C) In mid-February, the PRN elected Julio Cesar Blandon
-- "Commandant Kaliman" -- as its new party president. The
party repeatedly tried for more than a year to convene an
assembly to elect a new head, but failed to do so due to
executive committee in-fighting and lack of financial
resources (ref A). The PRN had been in disarray since
September 2006 when ex-PRN president Salvador Talavera, on
the eve of the 2006 national elections, shocked his PRN
colleagues and their then-Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN)
allies by signing an agreement with then-presidential
candidate Daniel Ortega.

3. (C) Blandon's election does not appear to mark the end of
internal conflict and division. A former Ministry of
Government employee, Blandon has been accused by the PRN base
-- still loyal to Eduardo Montealegre (and the new Liberal
coalition) -- and by Talavera of being a "Trojan Horse" sent
by Ortega to sever PRN relations with the Liberal coalition
and/or bring the PRN openly into alliance with Ortega's
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Questioned
about these accusations in a February 28 meeting, Blandon and
members of his new executive committee vehemently denied any
connection to Ortega or the Sandinistas, reminding us that he
and his colleagues had fought the Sandinistas for years as
Contras.

Resistance Party Going it Alone in November
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4. (C) Blandon, however, did not reserve his wrath only for
Ortega and the FSLN. With equal vigor, he blasted
"unscrupulous Liberal politicians" who had "repeatedly taken
advantage" of the PRN's "unwavering support for democracy" to
further personal political ambitions. Sweeping his arm
towards his four PRN colleagues, Blandon revealed that each
one of them had been "robbed" of a seat in the National
Assembly or some other government position promised by
Liberal politicians. He complained that "the (Constitutional
Liberal Party) PLC never fulfilled its promises. Neither did
the ALN."

5. (C) Smarting from these past injustices, Blandon
announced that the PRN will run alone in the 2008 municipal
elections. In addition, he insisted that local PRN
structures that had aligned with other Liberal political
parties for the 2008 elections must return to the PRN fold,
immediately severing any previously negotiated deals. He
claimed the PRN is legally represented in 100 percent of
Nicaragua's 153 municipalities and had already selected
candidates in 75 percent of them. Asked what chances he
thought the PRN might have if it runs a solo ticket, Blandon
predicted the PRN could win 25-30 mayor or vice mayor
positions and 50-60 council positions in PRN strongholds in
the northern departments.

Who Controls the Base?
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MANAGUA 00000318 002 OF 002


6. (C) Luis Fley, a former member of the PRN executive
committee and member of the Liberal alliance committee,
discounted Blandon's bold predictions, opining that Blandon's
victory will have "no impact" on the PRN's base. Fley
insists that the PRN's base remain firmly committed to the
new Liberal alliance formed after the Supreme Electoral
Council took control of the ALN from Montealegre (ref B).
As part of the Liberal alliance, Fley believes Resistance
candidates will be selected as mayoral and vice mayoral
candidates in 9 and 15 municipalities, respectively. Running
under the PRN banner, Fley predicted Blandon would win only a
single municipality.

Comment
- - - -

7. (C) The squabbling and in-fighting that has plagued the
PRN -- and the Resistance movement in general -- since
Talavera's sudden alliance with Ortega in September 2006, has
unquestionably weakened the PRN's credibility as a political
force in Nicaragua. Thus, its decision, as a party, to
strike out on its own is unlikely to siphon Resistance votes
away from the Liberal alliance. The party base turned its
collective back on the PRN when Talavera sold the brand name
to Ortega in 2006. Traditional Resistance leaders such as
Luis Fley have worked diligently to keep the party's bases
focused on Montealegre, the ALN, and, now, the new Liberal
alliance.
TRIVELLI

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