Cablegate: Nicaragua's Elections (Violently) Heating Up
P 311842Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3314
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS MANAGUA 001328
STATE FOR WHA/CEN, NSC FOR FISK/GARCIA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC KDEM NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA'S ELECTIONS (VIOLENTLY) HEATING UP
REF: MANAGUA 1195
1. (SBU) Summary: As Nicaragua's municipal elections draw
closer, political violence is becoming a daily occurrence.
The incidents are predominantly instigated by supporters of
Daniel Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)
against members of the opposition Vamos con
Eduardo-Constitutional Liberal Party (VCE-PLC). This has
resulted in leaders of the opposition parties, civil society,
and religious groups expressing concern about "the climate of
violence that the FSLN had unleashed throughout Nicaragua."
These incidents are expected to continue during the last 10
days leading up to the November 9 elections. The bulk of
opposition campaign activity is going forward unmolested.
Nonetheless, the recent violence does not bode well for the
environment on election day. End Summary.
Acts of Violence
2. (SBU) Acts of political violence have been a regular
occurrence since July, but as the November 9 municipal
elections draw closer these incidents are becoming a daily
occurrence. So far this week (October 26-30) there have been
five separate acts of violence, with the latest incident
taking place October 30. On that date FSLN supporters
attacked a vehicle with VCE-PLC supporters, whom were
returning from a campaign event. While the car was at a
rotunda, FSLN supporters threw rocks and sticks at the
vehicle's passengers and stabbed two people riding in the
back of the pick-up. The injured passengers were taken to
the hospital, where VCE-PLC mayoral candidate Eduardo
Montealegre called on the police to provide security on the
streets to avoid these incidents.
3. (SBU) Other acts of recent political violence include:
- October 29: FSLN supporters attacked VCE-PLC campaign staff
outside a VCE-PLC campaign office, seriously injuring three
VCE-PLC supporters. One of the victims required surgery.
The event occurred when VCE-PLC staff walked out of their
campaign office to stop the Ortega supporters from replacing
Montealegre's party propaganda with FSLN propaganda. As
reported by local media, "the Ortega mob" also attacked a
VCE-PLC photographer and destroyed his camera;
- October 26: Citizen Power Councils (CPC, the Ortega
government's extension into local politics and government)
attacked two VCE-PLC campaign officials with rocks while the
two traveled in Leon;
- October 26: CPCs attacked leaders of opposition parties in
Ciudad Sandino (north of Managua) while the mayoral candidate
was campaigning door-to-door in the city.
FSLN - Victim or Agitator?
4. (SBU) While most of the violence has been instigated by
Ortega's FSLN supporters, the FSLN has also reported
VCE-PLC-led violence. On October 21 media reported that a
PLC supporter, during a PLC rally, fatally shot a FSLN
supporter in Matagalpa (northeast of Managua).
5. (SBU) However, only FSLN party leaders have publicly
promoted and defended the use of violence. On September 23,
and in response to the September 20 FSLN-led violence in Leon
(reftel), FSLN National Assembly Deputy Gustavo Porras said
the FSLN "would defend the streets as a way to defend their
power." On October 1, the quasi-official weekly "El 19"
(controlled by First Lady Rosario Murillo), described the
September 20 FSLN-led violence in Leon as a "demonstration of
the pride of the people of Leon who responded to protect
6. (SBU) As Nicaragua's elections draw closer, political
violence is becoming a daily occurrence. While both the FSLN
and the VCE-PLC have provoked violence, the FSLN has been
overwhelmingly responsible. There is concern among the
opposition parties that the violence leading up to the local
contests can intimidate the electorate, resulting in low
voter turnout. Low voter turnout for the municipal contests
would favor FSLN candidates across the country. In general,
this predominantly FSLN-led political violence provides
concern for the environment in which the elections will take
place on November 9.