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Cablegate: Phantom Protest: Gon Plants Fake News Story About

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000322

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NU
SUBJECT: PHANTOM PROTEST: GON PLANTS FAKE NEWS STORY ABOUT
PRO-GOV'T PROTEST IN RAAN

REF: A. MANAGUA 297

B. MANAGUA 212 AND PREVIOUS
C. MANAGUA 209
D. MANAGUA 153
E. MANAGUA 105

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

1. (C) SUMMARY. On March 12, right-of-center "La Prensa"
newspaper reported that hundreds of people gathered in Puerto
Cabezas, capital of Nicaragua's North Atlantic Autonomous
Region (RAAN), on March 11 to demonstrate in favor of
postponing November's scheduled municipal elections, a
position supported by the ruling Sandinista Party (FSLN). We
happened to be in the town on the 12th and confirmed with
multiple sources that there had been no protest the prior
day. Further one of our contacts phoned the reporter who
authored the article and was told that the story had been
"phoned-in" to him by the Mayor, an FSLN ally. END SUMMARY.

The Phantom Protest
-------------------

2. (C) On March 12, the nationwide, center-right daily
newspaper "La Prensa," (circ. 40,000) ran an article
reporting that on March 11, hundreds of people had gathered
in the municipal park in Puerto Cabezas to put pressure on
the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) to postpone local
municipal elections scheduled for November. (Note: we have
reported via reftels on the CSE's plans to postpone or cancel
municipal elections in the RAAN. END NOTE).

3. (C) By coincidence, we were in Puerto Cabezas on March 12
on other business and asked multiple contacts about the
reported protest. We were surprised to find that they were
stunned by the information and the article. Each of them
denied that there had been any protest, either pro- or
anti-government on the prior day. During our other
activities throughout the day, we queried employees at the
departmental hospital and our GON-supplied drivers, all of
whom denied there had been any protest the prior day.

Protest Phoned-in by Government
-------------------------------

4. (C) One of our contacts who knew Jose Garth Medina, the
"La Prensa" journalist with the by-line phoned him directly
after reading the article. Medina answered the call and
confirmed that he had written the piece, but that he had not
left Managua to do so. He told our contact that the news
item had been phoned in by the Mayor of Puerto Cabezas and
FSLN ally, Elizabeth Enriquez. He also added that the Mayor
had told him that protest had continued into Wednesday. Our
contact chided the reporter, noting that he himself was in
the town and had no knowledge of any protest. NOTE: We,
ourselves, also saw no evidence of a protest in the town,
either small or large, either pro- or anti-government. END
NOTE.

Comment
-------

5. (C) We have previously reported on demonstrations, both
pro- and anti-government that have occurred in the RAAN, all
of which we have been able to confirm through multiple
sources. There have been prior unconfirmed reports that the
government and its proxies had begun to employ disinformation
tactics; however, this is the first instance where we have
first-hand confirmation that the practice is taking place.
It is perhaps telling that the government feels its electoral
position in the RAAN so threatened that it has resorted to
blatant disinformation. What we find particularly disturbing
is that the piece appeared in "La Prensa," which has normally
exhibited reasonably respectable levels of professionalism
and integrity. With the CSE yet to announce its final
decision regarding postponement, tensions remain very high
ahead of the election. We will continue to visit, monitor

MANAGUA 00000322 002 OF 002


and report on the situation in the RAAN.
TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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