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Cablegate: Ortega Supports Chavez, Claims U.S. Behind

VZCZCXYZ0004
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1203/01 2691831
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251831Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3204
INFO RUEHMU/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001203

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/FO DAS MADISON
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN KRAAIMORE
DEPT FOR USOAS
STATE PASS TO USAID/LAC -- CARDENAS AND BATLLE
NSC FOR FISK AND GARCIA
SOUTHCOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2018
TAGS: PREL VE NU
SUBJECT: ORTEGA SUPPORTS CHAVEZ, CLAIMS U.S. BEHIND
ASSASSINATION PLOT

REF: CARACAS 1271

Classified By: Amb. Robert J. Callahan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega publicly
supported Hugo Chavez's decision to declare persona non grata
the United States ambassador and accused the United States of
being behind a plot to assassinate the Venezuelan President.
His public statements were part of a coordinated strategy of
supporting his closest Latin American ally while also
attacking the United States and human rights organizations
critical of his leadership. END SUMMARY.

U.S. BEHIND ALLEGED PLOT
- - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) On September 21, Ortega publicly accused the United
States of plotting to assassinate his main ally in the region
with the complicity of members of the Venezuelan armed
forces. At the inauguration of a water sanitation project,
Ortega thanked the Government of Venezuela for its assistance
and pledged the solidarity of the people of Nicaragua "before
the plans that are being developed to assassinate" Chavez.
Ortega answered his rhetorical question, "who wants to kill
them (Chavez and his allies)? The darkest forces of the
empire (the United States) and the darkest forces of
Venezuela." He remarked that these "darkest forces" want to
assassinate Chavez because "he is a good man, on the side of
the poor, and wants to unite Latin America."

3. (SBU) Ortega claimed that the alleged plot would use a
combat aircraft from the Venezuelan armed forces in the
service of "the empire and the oligarchy" to bomb Chavez,s
location and kill him. Ortega added that it did not matter
to the alleged plotters whether "100, 200 or 500 people were
left dead." He also claimed that "this was the plan and they
(Chavez) managed to discover it and it is not new."
Recalling the Venezuela coup d'etat of 2002, Ortega remarked,
"they tried to kill him (Chavez) and the people went out into
the streets and rescued him from the hands of those who had
held him prisoner and had sentenced him to death." Ortega
continued by saying that the enemy was always conspiring
against the poor people because "they want the wellbeing, the
paved streets, the potable water, electricity, wealth...for
themselves" and for the poor people "hunger and unemployment,
dusty streets, (and the) need for water."

SUPPORT FOR EXPELLING THE U.S. AMBASSADOR
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) Ortega also reaffirmed his solidarity and support of
Chavez's decision to declare persona non grata the U.S.
ambassador and to adopt measures against those who are
"conspiring" against the government of Venezuela. Invoking
Pope John Paul II, Ortega referred to the fight against
"savage capitalism" by the poor, saying that the "poor people
cannot wait" and that Venezuelan financial aid was meeting
the needs of poor Nicaraguan families "in these basic
services of water." Ortega continued his praise of Chavez by
"expressing our solidarity" to the Venezuelan president and
"our support for the decisions taken to declare non grata and
to expel from Venezuela those that have been conspiring under
the protection of their diplomatic mission, others who
entered (the country) as tourists and began a dirty campaign
against the government." According to Ortega, Chavez had no
other choice but to expel them from the country. Ortega
added, "we welcome and accept with open arms those who
respect us, but if a foreigner comes to try to do us
harm...if they want to stay in Nicaragua, they should respect
Nicaraguans" and "if they do not obey, there is nothing left
to do but to kick them out as the Venezuelan government has
done."

5. (C) COMMENT: Ortega continues to support Chavez
unconditionally. Indeed, he has gone farther than Chavez,
who only expelled the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela in
solidarity with Evo Morales' act in Bolivia, and did not make
any specific allegation against him.

CALLAHAN

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