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Cablegate: Election Theft for Dummies: Cpcs, Cse, Fsln

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 000417

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DEPT FOR USAID/LAC BONICELLI AND BATLLE
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DEPT FOR WHA/CEN - NYMAN AND GREENE
DEPT FOR INR/IAA - EMERSON
DEPT PLS PASS USOAS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV KDEM NU
SUBJECT: ELECTION THEFT FOR DUMMIES: CPCS, CSE, FSLN
RIGGING VOTER ROLLS

REF: A. MANAGUA 209
B. MANAGUA 153
C. 2006 MANAGUA 2423
D. 2006 MANAGUA 2080
E. 2006 MANAGUA 148

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

1. (C) SUMMARY. The Citizens' Power Councils (CPCs), the
Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) and FSLN-controlled
municipalities in several of Nicaragua's Departments appear
to be engaged in a concerted and coordinated effort to pad
voter rolls with FSLN-supporting voters for the upcoming
municipal elections. According to our contacts, CPC teams
are canvassing villages block-by-block identifying
FSLN-leaning voters and pre-clearing them for cedula (ID
card) registration with the CSE, while skipping over non-FSLN
households. In some cases CPCs have been granted the use of
official municipal assets (camera, vehicles, etc.) to seek
out and register potential FSLN voters. The plan is as
follows: Upon instruction from CPCs, these would-be new
voters are "screened" for candidate preference by CSE
personnel, with FSLN supporters given expedited service.
Finally, the CSE releases new cedulas to the CPC teams, which
then deliver cedulas directly to the homes of the
newly-minted voters. While we saw elements of widespread CSE
collusion in voter disenfranchisement during the 2006
National elections (REFS C & D), there is a disturbing new
twist involving the CPCs that results in a state-subsidized
discrimination against non-FSLN voters. Opposition political
parties have been able to partially mitigate this
disadvantage by encouraging their supporters to indicate a
stated preference for the FSLN candidate when registering for
cedulas. END SUMMARY.

CPCs Engaged in Padding Voter Rolls
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (C) We have heard with increasing frequency from multiple
independent sources that the FSLN is utilizing the CPCs to
collude with the CSE in order to pad voter rolls with FSLN
supporters for the upcoming municipal elections. Several of
our contacts both from political parties and from
pro-democracy NGOs have provided independent confirmation of
widespread collusion between the CPCs, the CSE and
FSLN-controlled municipalities to facilitate expedited cedula
(ID card) registration for FSLN supporters, including some
"voters" under the legally established voting age of 16
years. We have also been told that CSE personnel are
routinely asking cedula applicants which election candidate
they prefer. Those naming the FSLN candidate are offered
expedited service, while those applicants naming a different
candidate are given the "raton loco (crazy rat)" treatment,
i.e. the runaround, and told application documents are
incomplete or inadequate.

How the Plan Works: Collusion and Corruption
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) Based on multiple conversations with opposition party
and NGO contacts over the last two months, the plan is
carried out in the following manner. At the local level CPCs
have organized voter roll teams comprised of CPC
rank-and-file, FSLN party rank-and-file, and frequently,
FSLN-supporting departmental employees of National
Ministries, e.g. Education, Health, Agriculture, etc. These
teams have been given voter registration lists and charged
with identifying and registering new voters who are likely to
support FSLN candidates in the upcoming municipal elections.
In FSLN-controlled municipalities, these CPC voter
registration teams are also granted access to municipal
assets, primarily means of transportation, e.g. trucks,
motorcycles, bicycles, which they use to reach remote,
outlying areas where potential voters would otherwise find it
difficult, if not, impossible to undertake the time and
expense of registering to vote.


MANAGUA 00000417 002 OF 003


4. (C) Each day these CPC voter registration teams are sent
out with cameras and materials to identify and register
potential FSLN-friendly voters. Teams then determine whether
a particular household is "FSLN" or not. Any "non-FSLN"
household is skipped. NOTE: In Nueva Segovia, Matagalpa and
other Departments, we have heard multiple stories of CPC
teams moving house by house through a neighborhood and
intentionally skipping households known to be non-FSLN
friendly. END NOTE. For the FSLN-supporting households,
potential voters are provided their cedula registration
packet (a photograph and official copies of vital documents
-- birth certificate, etc.) free of charge by the CPC team
and instructed to visit the CSE office and identify
themselves as supporters of FSLN municipal candidates. We
have been told that upon doing so, the CSE expedites the
cedula registration process by accepting the documentation
packet unchallenged. Furthermore, the CSE is turning over
completed cedulas to the CPC teams that deliver the new
cedulas directly to the voters, saving these individuals the
time and expense of a return trip to the CSE offices. On its
face this process appears to be simply a well-organized voter
registration effort by the ruling FSLN. However, its
practical effect is to discriminate against and
disenfranchise large numbers of non-FSLN-leaning voters.
Though we saw this type of systematic disenfranchisement
during the 2006 National elections (REFS C & D), there are
three areas of concern that make the involvement of CPCs a
new and disturbing development.

Why This Process is Problematic: State-Funded Discrimination
and Disenfranchisement
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (C) State-Funded Disenfranchisement. These CPC teams are
been granted access to municipal-owned assets; placing all
other party and NGO voter registration efforts at a financial
disadvantage. By allowing CPC teams the use of official
vehicles, the FSLN-controlled municipalities are, in effect,
using state funds to subsidize the cost of FSLN voter
registration efforts. The use of state-funded resources to
register voters is a benefit is not equally available to
other opposition parties and NGOs seeking to implement voter
registration programs and, with local fuel prices currently
above USD 4.30 per gallon for gasoline and for widely-used
diesel, is a substantial financial advantage particularly
given that there is no evidence that municipalities are being
reimbursed for fuel costs by the CPCs.

6. (C) A second aspect of this state-funded
disenfranchisement is that of the CPCs providing the cedula
registration packets without cost to applicants. Normally,
Nicaraguans incur substantial costs when registering for a
cedula. These costs include a photo of the proper size and
type, official copies of vital documents, including birth
certificate, etc. Applications must also be done in person
at a CSE office, which incurs travel and lodging costs as CSE
offices are neither widely-dispersed throughout the country
nor continually manned throughout the year. The CPC teams
have been provided with cameras and use of FSLN-controlled
municipal assets to provide paper documentation. Again this
amounts to a state subsidy for FSLN voters that is not
available to non-FSLN voters.

7. (C) Discrimination Based on Party Affiliation. The second
aspect of this process is its discrimination against non-FSLN
voters and the apparent collusion between CPC voter
registration teams and CSE staff. CPC-referred applicants
are provided an expedited registration process, including
having their application packet accepted by the CSE without
challenge. Furthermore, newly-printed cedula documents are
given back to CPC teams that deliver the cedula directly to
the applicant. We have been told by multiple contacts from
political parties and pro-democracy NGOs that upon appearing
at the CSE office, applicants are routinely asked which
candidate they favor. If the answer is not the FSLN
candidate, applicants have their application packet
challenged. The CSE staff routinely finds some problem or

MANAGUA 00000417 003 OF 003


deficiency with the packet, e.g. the packet is incomplete, a
photo is the wrong type, a copy of a vital document is
inadequate or unacceptable, at which point the applicant is
directed to remediate the deficiency. This normally requires
a new photo or a return visit to the applicant's local
registry office for a new "proper" copy of a vital document,
and then a return trip back to the CSE office, with all the
associated additional costs. This runaround normally
lengthens the registration process by day or weeks and
occasionally by months, if the applicant is from a
particularly remote area. Furthermore, even if an applicant
can successfully submit his or her packet, they are required
to return to the CSE office in person to collect the cedula.
However, we have been told repeatedly that local CSE offices
are frequently unable to locate the finished cedulas of
non-FSLN voters, often for months at a time. The end result
is large numbers of non-FSLN potential voters that are unable
to register or vote due to lack of a cedula.

COMMENT
- - - -

8. (C) With increasing frequency, we have heard detailed
descriptions from several different locales of this apparent
collusion between the CSE, CPCs, and the FSLN. The apparent
corruption and ineptitude of the CSE is not new to us (REFS C
& D) -- being an all-too-common story in advance of the 2006
presidential elections. However the disturbing new elements
here are the direct involvement of the CPCs in registering
FSLN voters and the use of state-controlled funds to
facilitate this process as well as the apparent level of
coordination between the CPCs, FSLN-controlled
municipalities, and the CSE to actively discriminate against
and disenfranchise non-FSLN voters. We also note that the
ability of the CSE to engage in systematic disenfranchisement
of this scale has been greatly increased, given that earlier
this year, senior CSE leadership purged nearly all non-FSLN
aligned staff (REF B).
TRIVELLI

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