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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Famous Singer, Former Fsln Member and Recent Mrs Candidate for Vice President Asserts His Intellectual Property Rights Against the Fsln

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1052/01 2311954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181954Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3036
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001052

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, EB/TPP/IPE
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO JUSTICE FOR OPDAT ROBERT LIPMAN
STATE PLEASE ALSO PASS TO USTR FOR ANDREA MALITO
TREASURY FOR SARA GRAY
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/MSIEGELMAN

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON KIPR USTR NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: FAMOUS SINGER, FORMER FSLN MEMBER AND RECENT MRS CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT ASSERTS HIS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AGAINST THE FSLN

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Since April, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has been playing "La Consigna," a well known song of famous Nicaraguan singer, former FSLN member, and recent MRS candidate for vice president, Carlos Mejia Godoy, on radio and television and at rallies promoting the FSLN. Mejia Godoy recorded "La Consigna" in Spain as an FSLN sympathizer in 1978. In 2005, Mejia Godoy left the FSLN to form the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) with Herty Lewites. Now, he does not want the FSLN to benefit in any way from his songs. In June, he penned a public letter to First Lady and chief FSLN propagandist Rosario Murillo, demanding that she cease using "La Cosigna" in propaganda supporting the FSLN. While Mejia Godoy's public campaign to assert his intellectual property rights has succeeded in attracting the wrath of the FSLN, his administrative and legal petitions have gone nowhere, which is why he now seeks international support. In the local politcal context, Mejia Godoy's case provides another illustration of how the ruling party will not balk at abusing its authority to advance its political agenda. End Summary.

"WHAT IS YOUR INSIGNIA? F-S-L-N(yah)"
-------------------------------------

2. (U) Since April, the Sandista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has been playing "La Consigna," a well known song of famous Nicaraguan singer, former FSLN member, and recent MRS candidate for vice president, Carlos Mejia Godoy, on radio and television and at rallies promoting the FSLN. The song harkens back to the revolution in the 1970s, extolling the virtues of FSLN militancy. At one point, the song asks "What is your insignia?" To which the chorus answers "F-S-L-N(yah)." The FSLN's propaganda machine deployed the song as a central element in the promotion of its July 19th celebrations to mark the anniversary of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's fall from power in 1979. The problem is that the song belongs to Mejia Godoy, and he no longer wants to share it with the FSLN.

I WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (SBU) Mejia Godoy recorded "La Consigna" in Spain as an FSLN
sympathizer in 1978. By 1983, when Mejia Godoy became a card
carrying member of FSLN and the recognized author of "Hymn of the
FSLN," another of his greatest hits (this time, voluntarily donated
to the FSLN). At the time, Mejia Godoy was content to share his
revolutionary songs with his adopted party and anyone else who
wanted them. His image as the musical voice of the people was
assured.

Bad Blood
---------

4. (SBU) In the mid 1990s, former vice president Sergio Ramirez Mercado (1985-1990) launched the MRS to advance his own presidential ambitions in 1996. He won less than 2% of the vote and the MRS soon returned to the FSLN fold. By 2006, internal dissension within the FSLN over Daniel Ortega's authoritarian leadership had bubbled up again, causing a number of party intellectuals to support Managua Mayor Herty Lewites for president and join the MRS. Mejia Godoy was one of them, becoming a prominent and outspoken opponent of Daniel Ortega and his wife and chief FSLN propagandist, Rosario Murillo. After the death of Herty Lewites three months before the election, the famous singer-songwriter was tapped by the MRS to run for vice-president. Ortega won the election and since sought to punish his ex-Sandinista rivals. In June, the FSLN-controlled Supreme Electoral Council declared that the MRS had not met the criteria to list candidates in municipal elections in November 2008. This kind of treatment has incensed MRS leaders and Mejia Godoy, who have embarked on a public campaign against Daniel Ortega and his FSLN.

Give It Back
------------

5. (SBU) In May, Mejia Godoy submitted a formal complaint to the
Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Development (MIFIC), and filed a
civil suit in a local court to enjoin the FSLN from playing "La
Consigna," or any other song that he had authored. He did not get
results he wanted. MIFIC provided no support, while a Managua court
sided with the FSLN, declaring that the song belonged to the people
just like works that one might find in the national archives.

6. (SBU) In June, Mejia Godoy penned a letter to Murillo demanding that she cease using "La Cosigna" in propaganda supporting the FSLN. In a rambling response, a poetic Murillo argued that, when it came to revolutionary songs, the folk singer was nothing more than "an instrument for divine rhythms" channeled "from an unknown, sacred place." Following Murillo's written response, members of the FSLN and media organizations that it controls launched a media campaign against Mejia Godoy, claiming that he had derived fame from his association with the FSLN, that he did not own the revolution, and that "La Consigna" had become a part of Nicaragua's cultural heritage and belonged to the people now. (In fact, however, the law explicitly assigns lifetime intellectual property rights to authors, and then to their heirs for a period of 70 years.)

7. (SBU) Mejia Godoy gave into his frustrations during an opposition
rally in July. He lost his composure on camera with a Multinoticias
(FSLN controlled television station) reporter, pushing the reporter
and grabbing his testicles during a shouting match joined by Mejia
Godoy's brother and songwriting partner, Luis Enrique. Mejia Godoy
later semi-apologized for having "opposable thumbs," but has
steadfastly refused to back down when it comes to asserting his
intellectual property rights. He insists that the FSLN cannot
benefit in any way from his work.

GOING GLOBAL
------------

8. (SBU) For Mejia Godoy, the battle at home may be lost for now,
but the war rages on. He has requested that the Society of Spanish
Authors move to protect his intellectual property rights. Mejia
Godoy has copyrighted all of his 208 songs in Spain; and is a member
in good standing of the Society of Spanish Authors. He is also
exploring whether treaty commitments provide for international
arbitration. In an uncomfortable development for the FSLN, the
international media have picked up on the story, including Time
Magazine in the United States, and appear to be siding with the
artist.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS TAKES IT ON THE CHIN
--------------------------------------------- ----

9. (SBU) Miguel Obando, the legal representative of Nicautor, an
association which advocates intellectual property rights, complains
that Mejia Godoy's case illustrates the government's poor attitude
towards enforcement of intellectual property rights, and should
raise concerns among local and foreign companies about the
government's willingness to fulfill treaty commitments. Obando adds
that cooperation between private industry and government on
intellectual property rights has stalled in 2008. He believes that
the government is no longer interested in cracking down on piracy or
trademark and copyright infringement.

COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) Although the FSLN continues to flout Mejia Godoy's
intellectual property rights, most observers believe that the
confrontation is more political than legal. In the broader context,
the case provides another illustration that the ruling party will
not balk at abusing its authority, or misusing government
institutions, to advance its political agenda at the expense of the
rule of law or, in this case, the intellectual property rights of
its most famous living singer-songwriter.

SANDERS

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