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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Ortega Uses the "S" Word

O 022220Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2833
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY QUITO IMMEDIATE
CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
USS KEARSARGE IMMEDIATE
COMPHIBRON EIGHT IMMEDIATE
CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2,J3,J5 IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000848

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN NYMAN AND GREENE
DEPT FOR INR/IAA EMERSON
DEPT FOR USOAS
NSC FOR ALVARADO
USS KEARSARGE FOR COMMODORE PONDS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: ORTEGA USES THE "S" WORD

REF: A. 2008 MANAGUA 573
B. 2008 MANAGUA 350

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: The week of June 23 saw three
developments that may indicate a troubling and explicit
ideological shift by the government of Nicaragua (GON).
President Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation
Front (FSLN), issued a decree granting his wife, Rosario
Murillo, control over all social programs and institutions of
the State, including the Social Security Institute (INSS),
making her, in effect, what the press has termed
"co-president." Ortega's son, Juan Carlos, issued a rare open
letter to the youth of Nicaragua calling for the end of the
political pact between Ortega and the ex-president and
convict Arnoldo Aleman, characterizing it as a "dinosaur",
and encouraging youth to seize power through the Citizen
Power Councils (CPCs). Finally, Ortega publicly announced his
intention to return the country to "socialism." These three
incidents suggest further consolidation of Ortega's personal
power via "direct democracy." END SUMMARY

Co-Presidenta
- - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) On Friday June 13, 2008 Presidential Decree No.
26-2008 appeared in "La Gaceta" granting Ortega's wife,
Rosario Murillo, control over all social programs and
institutions of the State as well as the Social Security
Institute (INSS). The Nicaraguan press subsequently dubbed
Murillo "co-president," given Ortega's statement that fifty
percent of the power of the government resides in his wife's
management of public policy. Murillo is also the coordinator
for the Citizen Power Councils(REF A). Through this decree,
Ortega essentially fused management of the CPCs with
government social programs, further blurring the distinction
between government, CPCs and the party.

Citizen Power instead of the Pacto
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (C) On June 23, Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, son of the
presidential duo, issued a rare open letter to the Nicaraguan
youth, published on the presidential website, in which he
pronounced the pact ("el pacto") between the Constitutional
Liberal Party (PLC) and the Sandinista National Liberation
Front (FSLN) a "dinosaur" whose usefulness had come to an
end. The missive, entitled "Rebellious Youth" called on youth
to reject "el pacto" (REF B), terming it a relic of "an
antiquated representative democracy," to be replaced by the
CPCs (REF A). This formulation represents the first open hint
by the Ortega administration that collaboration with the PLC
may be nearing an end. The transcript of the letter as well
as a short biography of Juan Carlos have been sent to WHA/CEN.

Deja Vu? Ortega Espouses Socialism
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (U) As if to drive home the true meaning of both his
son's words and the decree, in a speech Monday, June 23,
Ortega told FSLN supporters that "socialism" was the only way
Nicaragua can solve its social problems and "confront savage
capitalism." To carry out what he termed "a
political-ideological project", Ortega named Carlos Fonseca
Teran, the son of FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca Amador as the
political secretary of the FSLN in the department of Leon.
Notably, in the same speech, Ortega again denounced the media
for criticizing his administration. He assserted that the
Revolution "is exposed to insults and slander of all kinds"
and that people should not be fooled by what they hear or see
in the press as the media represents the "oligarchy." Despite
his regular criticism of market-based economies, Ortega's
Monday night speech was the first time during this
administration he has openly espoused socialism for
Nicaragua.

Comment
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (C) Given the control that Rosario Murillo already
holds over the CPCs and other aspects of day-to-day
governmental affairs, her new administrative position and her
son's articulation of FSLN re-evaluation of the "pacto", may
foreshadow a potential future shift away from the
power-sharing agreement with the PLC towards more direct
control of government through the CPC's. As municipal
elections in November loom, and with three of the main rival
democratic parties now eliminated, the "pacto" may indeed
become ever more irrelevant to Ortega. These three incidents
suggest further consolidation of Ortega's personal power via
"direct democracy."


TRIVELLI

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