Cablegate: A Peek Behind the Curtain: A Look at the 2006
DE RUEHMU #1573/01 2011331
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201331Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7007
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0741
UNCLAS MANAGUA 001573
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NU
SUBJECT: A PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN: A LOOK AT THE 2006
1. (U) SUMMARY: National Assembly candidates from FSLN,
PLC, AC, ALN and MRS presented their parties, legislative
priorities in a panel discussion broadcast live by Channel
10. ALN's Jamileth Bonilla emphasized poverty reduction, job
creation, education and social justice, while PLC's Francisco
Aguirre commented on Nicaragua's weak economy, the need for
job creation, and National Assembly reform. FSLN's Bayardo
Arce focused on credit and financial support for micro, small
and medium enterprises to generate employment while AC's
Orlando Tardencilla stressed citizen participation and the
creation of a new legislative branch. Finally, MRS candidate
Victor Hugo Tinoco declared his party's plans to launch an
ethics and morality crusade to clean up government and cut by
fifty percent the "mega salaries" of high government
officials. END SUMMARY
2. U) On July 12, in a live broadcast from La Universidad
Centroamericana (UCA), listeners of Radio Tiempo and viewers
of Channel 10's "El 10 de la Nacion" heard National Assembly
candidates from the Sandinista (FSLN), Liberal Constitutional
Party (PLC), Alternative for Change (AC), Nicaraguan Liberal
Alliance (ALN), and the Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS)
discuss their parties, legislative platforms. Despite a
late start, the late arrival of the MRS candidate, a blown
fuse mid-way through the AC candidate,s remarks, and several
miscues by the host, the event proceeded relatively smoothly.
The audience was treated to a first glimpse at the nascent
legislative platforms of the leading political parties. The
Foro Electoral 2006 was sponsored by the Danish Embassy and
co-sponsored by the Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce (Jose Adan
Aguerri, President), El Nuevo Diario (Francisco Chamorro,
Deputy Director), La Universidad Centroamericana (Manuel
Arauz), Radio Tiempo and Channel 10's "El 10 en la Nacion"
(Jaime Arellano - host).
ALN - "You and Your Family"
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3. (U) ALN candidate Bonilla emphasized that:
-- Nicaragua needs a new approach to government. An
important theme was "you and your family." This theme
focuses on poverty reduction, employment generation, ending
corruption and the pacts (called "pactos") between political
parties, and improving salaries for public sector employees.
The government should help provide jobs for everyone,
strengthen social justice, and educate more citizens.
-- The 1980's Sandinista government destroyed the
country,s economy and economic recuperation will be very
-- Technical assistance, financing and training is
necessary for producers.
-- The new government will emphasize women,s rights,
including laws to protect them.
PLC - No Clear Platform
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4. (U) PLC candidate Aguirre stated that:
-- Nicaragua,s economic situation is bad: A severe
housing deficit (500,000 units); large income inequalities;
economic migration out of the country and a serious energy
crisis are hurting the country.
-- Due to the Bolanos government,s failure, Nicaragua
is becoming "Dominicanized."
-- The National Assembly must be an agent of change.
(Note: PLC candidate Aguirre did not summarize the PLC
legislative agenda. His presentation was short, very general
and ended quite abruptly. It is unclear whether he was
unwilling or unable to present details related to the PLC
agenda. End note)
FSLN - Fostering Small Business
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5. (U) FSLN candidate Arce stressed that:
-- The FSLN would promote a government of reconciliation
and national unity.
-- The National Assembly needs to institutionalize
dialogue with the Executive Branch and other civil
-- The FSLN will promote laws and actions to generate
employment and activate production.
-- The debt carried by "producers" must be reduced.
-- The FSLN government will establish a development bank
"Banco de Fomento" and state intervention should be
-- Communal banks are required to help micro-enterprises
and small businesses.
-- Banks that extend services and credit for
under-served clients and areas should receive incentives.
-- The National Assembly must pass a law that guarantees
credit for small and medium size businesses.
-- Employment generation is the key to reducing poverty.
-- Companies that hire recently graduated professionals
should receive tax breaks.
-- The GON must pass laws that promote and provide
incentives to investment in clean and renewable energy
sources (ethanol, bio-diesel).
-- Incentives should be given to companies that sell and
promote the use of low-energy consumption products.
-- Laws regarding health, education, environment, and
international economic integration must be legislative
(Note: In sharp contrast to the PLC presentation, FSLN
candidate Arce was very well prepared. He presented a clear
and detailed list of the party,s legislative priorities.
AC - Participation of Civil Society
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6. (U) AC candidate Tardencilla promised to:
-- Pass a new "organic law" for the Legislative Branch
stating that the GON cannot continue legislating under the
-- Revise the "Law of Citizen Participation."
-- Organize the National Assembly by simplifying
procedures and taking into account citizens, needs.
-- Reform the law governing control over spending of
public funds so that it punishes the corrupt and prevents
-- Create a law to measure the performance of elected
National Assembly Representatives.
MRS - Fire and Brimstone
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7. (U) MRS candidate Tinoco's priorities:
-- Launch an ethics and morality crusade to clean up
government and improve job performance among public officials.
-- Break the political "pacto" between Aleman and Ortega.
-- Change the composition and reduce the number of
representatives in the CSJ (Supreme Court) and CSE (Electoral
Counsel) to break the "pacto."
-- Alter the composition of "Mesas Electorales" to
guarantee greater citizen participation.
-- Cut the "mega salaries" of high government officials
by 50 percent and use the savings to improve salaries of the
health and education system personnel.
-- Punish corrupt officials.
-- Require MRS National Assembly deputies to donate 50
percent of their salaries to fund the purchase of school
furniture and drugs and equipment for health centers.
-- Promote the generation of 500,000 jobs in the next
-- Emphasize laws to promote family and small business
in the tourism sector to create more jobs.
(Note: Tinoco launched into his presentation in the style of
a fire and brimstone preacher talking to a roomful of
sinners. His intensity and use of strong words like
break,, cut,, and punish, made him appear radical
relative to the other candidates. End note.)
Students Universally Critical of National Assembly
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8. (U) Immediately following the presentations, the host cut
to a five minute segment of live interviews with students on
the UCA campus that the audience could hear by speakerphone.
A Channel 10 reporter asked students what they thought of the
National Assembly. The students' responses were universally
negative and critical of the National Assembly. Students
described the deputies as corrupt and blamed the "pactos" for
Nicaragua's economic and social woes. Listening to these
criticisms, the candidates chuckled and nodded and members of
the audience openly laughed. (Note: There was no response -
applause, booing, etc. - from the audience at any point
during the candidates' platform presentations, making it
impossible to assess audience reactions. It may be that the
live broadcast intimidated the audience or they did not want
to disrupt the host who moved quickly from one candidate to
the next. However, while the atmosphere of the live
broadcast might have silenced the audience members, the
students outside felt no such reservations about expressing
their opinions of the National Assembly.)