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Cablegate: Rizo to a/S Shannon: We Will Reform the Plc From

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2606/01 3342007
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 302007Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8313
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0832
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 002606

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA A/S SHANNON, WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2016
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN KDEM NU PGOV PINR PREL
SUBJECT: RIZO TO A/S SHANNON: WE WILL REFORM THE PLC FROM
WITHIN

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 28, Assistant Secretary Thomas
Shannon met with Jose Rizo and Jose Antonio Alvarado, former
presidential and vice presidential candidates for the Liberal
Constitutional Party (PLC). Voicing their discontent with
the election process, Rizo and Alvarado insisted that they
were "cheated out of the possibility of a second round."
Rizo spoke about his desire to reform or "rescue the PLC" and
remove Arnoldo Aleman from his leadership role in the party.
He envisions a more democratic PLC that will be the "one
liberal force" in Nicaragua. END SUMMARY.

WE WERE CHEATED
- - - - - - - -

2. (C) Jose Antonio Alvarado told A/S Shannon that according
to his party's data, the PLC should have garnered enough
points to take the election to a second round against
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) candidate Daniel
Ortega. According to Alvarado, early election results
collected by the PLC and the OAS indicated a close race
between the PLC and the FSLN, but that the election (or the
chance for a second round) "was stolen from the PLC" by a
deal Arnoldo Aleman struck with the FSLN. Alvarado claims
that Aleman conspired with Supreme Electoral Council (CSE)
president Roberto Rivas to alter the results. (COMMENT:
Although the PLC did garner more votes than some of the polls
predicted, neither the CSE numbers nor the Etica y
Transparencia quick count bear out Alvarado's claim. END
COMMENT.)

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REFORM FROM WITHIN
- - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) Rizo expressed to Shannon his goal to reform the
party from within so that it can become the primary liberal
opposition to the FSLN. He hopes to democratize the party
and unite all the liberals under the PLC "umbrella." He
stated that the political parties in Nicaragua resist
modernization and advancement and that he will fight to
"rescue the dignity of Nicaraguan liberalism."

4. (C) Echoing Rizo's comments, Alvarado emphasized that the
best way to reform the party is from the inside. He added
that he should never have left the party (he later returned)
because change must be initiated from within the party.
Alvarado claimed that the PLC is still powerful, as evidenced
by its strong showing in the deputy races, and that the party
wants to maintain a close relationship with the United
States. Both Rizo and Alvarado asserted that abandoning the
PLC would not eliminate the problem of Aleman. They asserted
that Aleman could hold at least 10% of the vote, and
therefore could remain a "pebble in the shoe of liberalism."
Rizo and Alvarado insisted that the "Aleman problem" could
only be resolved within the party.

ALEMAN MUST GO
- - - - - - - -

5. (C) Envisioning a strong PLC without the influence of
Aleman, Alvarado acknowledged that Aleman's role within the
PLC has been divisive and he must be forced to abandon his
role within the party by PLC members themselves. He noted
that the PLC is starting to hold party leadership meetings in
other locations (instead of at Aleman's El Chile residence).

6. (C) Rizo alleged that Aleman does not want him in the
National Assembly and that he has conspired to rob him of
that seat. However, Rizo will continue to fight for his
spot, claiming he will take the case to the Supreme Court.
(NOTE: Article 133 of the Nicaraguan constitution entitles
the former vice president to serve as the former president's
alternate in the National Assembly, and makes no mention that
this right is forfeited if the vice president resigns, as in
Rizo's case. END NOTE)

7. (C) Shannon emphasized the United State's commitment to
democracy and development in Nicaragua and said that his
meeting with Ortega was an opportunity to start a dialogue
with the new government. Alvarado commented that Ortega's
statements so far have been "measured" and attributed that
posture to Rosario Murillo's influence. Alvarado added that
he expects Ortega will maintain this approach over the next
six months as the FSLN consolidates power, but later Ortega's
stance will change. Whatever Ortega's future actions, both

Rizo and Alvarado said now was a good time to engage Ortega.
They said, "Call his bluff now. It will make it costlier for
him to walk away from you later."

8. (U) Participants:

Nicaragua:
Jose Rizo
Jose Antonio Alvarado

U.S.:
Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon
Ambassador Paul Trivelli
DCM Peter Brennan
Poloff Nicole Chulick (notetaker)

9. (U) This cable was cleared by A/S Shannon.
TRIVELLI

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