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Cablegate: "Eduardo Will Be the Next President, Unless Fsln

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DE RUEHMU #2160 2722244
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 292244Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7735
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T MANAGUA 002160

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/USOAS, NSC FOR DAN FISK

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2026
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: "EDUARDO WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT, UNLESS FSLN
FRAUD PREVENTS IT," PREDICTS MONTEALEGRE,S CAMPAIGN ADVISER


Classified By: Ambassador Paul A. Trivelli. Reasons 1.4 (B,D).

1. (C) Over lunch at the Presidency on 28 September, Eduardo
Montealegre's campaign adviser Mario Elgarresta asserted to
President Bolanos' chief of staff Nayo Somarriba, DCM, and
polcouns that Ncaaguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) candidate
Montealegre will be Nicaragua's next president -- unless
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) candidate Daniel
Ortega steals the election on the first round. Elgarresta
listed the departments of Managua, Matagalpa, Leon, Granada,
and Chinandega as the most vulnerable areas, as these are
Nicaragua's most densely populated regions.

2. (C) Elgarresta noted that ALN polls show that Montealegre
is closing in on the FSLN candidate, placing approximately
two to three points below frontrunner Ortega, while Liberal
Constitutional Party (PLC) candidate Jose Rizo trails
Montealegre by about ten points. According to Elgarresta,
Montealegre leads by 14-15 points in Chinandega and Granada,
while Ortega maintains a two-point lead over Montealegre in
Leon. Ortega enjoys a few points' lead over Rizo in
Matagalpa, followed closely by Montealegre; however, he
believes Montealegre can gain more support there. Arguing
that Ortega has reached his ceiling, but Montealegre has not,
Elgarresta was confident that the bulk of independent and
undecided voters, as well as some PLC supporters, will shift
their support to Montealegre once they are convinced that he
is the only candidate who can beat Ortega.

3. (S) Regarding Montealegre's campaign, Elgarresta noted
that it is finally shaping up and campaign money flowing in
-- but not soon enough. (NOTE/COMMENT: According to
Montealegre supporter Vilma Leon-York, who is assisting
Eduardo Montealegre's fundraising efforts, Montealegre's wife
Eliza will participate in fundraising events in Atlanta, San
Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami over the next week.
Eduardo will participate in a fundraising event in Miami on
October 10, reportedly with the support of Mel Martinez, and
an event in Washington DC on October 16, reportedly with the
support of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. We also hear that the
Taiwanese will support Montealegre starting early October.
END NOTE/COMMENT.)

4. (C) Elgarresta explained that he closely monitors the
communications aspects of the campaign, which includes a
substantial spike in radio and television spots during the
month of October. While many of the spots will focus on what
Montealegre offers, some will attack Ortega, specifically
warning voters that the forced conscription of the 1980s
could return if the FSLN wins. One spot will feature a woman
who lost one of her son's in the 1980s. Elgarresta noted
that ALN will also play on Congressman Burton's recent
warning that an Ortega victory could spell disaster for the
some 800 million dollars or so in remittances expatriate
Nicaraguans send home each year.

5. (C) Regarding how the U.S. can best help, Elgarresta
listed ensuring a clean electoral process through massive,
top-notch observation and our "encouragement" of private
sector backing. (COMMENT: Other recent polls also suggest
that Montealegre is closing in on Ortega; however the
possibility that Ortega will do his utmost to alter the
election results to win on the first round is real. In
addition to manipulations through the use of vote challenges
(impugnaciones), we are hearing from a number of contacts
that the FSLN is planning targeted power and phone line
outages in voting centers and tables (JRVs) where Ortega is
weak to interrupt voting and tabulation as well as the faxing
of results from these areas. Informed observers, party poll
watchers, and voters can help deter and minimize the fraud.
END COMMENT.)
TRIVELLI

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