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Cablegate: Fsln Faces Difficulties Delivering On Campaign


DE RUEHMU #2673/01 3452256
P 112256Z DEC 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 002673




E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/11/2016



Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (C) Summary: Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Samuel Santos recently admitted
that the party is having difficulty reconciling its many
campaign promises. Santos specifically referred to the
FSLN's desperate search for a solution to Nicaragua's ongoing
energy crisis and the party's stated intention to replace
only 200 top officials in the government, despite a clamor
for positions from the rank and file. Santos also commented
on two key pieces of legislation, claiming that the reforms
to the National Assembly's procedural regulations were
altered for the better to require majority approval for
secret votes and that the Assembly may only issue legal
summons to private individuals regarding "matters of state."
On the pending Freedom of Information Law, Santos reported
that the FSLN fully supports the legislation and claimed the
PLC is blocking implementation. End Summary.

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2. (C) DCM, polcouns, and poloff met with the FSLN's Foreign
Affairs Secretary on December 7 to discuss pending
legislation of concern and our upcoming briefing with the
FSLN transition team on assistance activities. Santos also
mentioned the FSLN's concern with resolving the energy crisis
(Ref B) and a lack of supporters (especially women) qualified
for professional positions in the government. Santos
repeated that the FSLN will not support amnesty for convicted
ex-President and PLC leader Arnoldo Aleman. (Note: Poloff
noted that Santos' appointment board contained the following
entries: Ren Jing Yu (Chinese Embassy in Mexico); Paul Oquist
(FSLN transition advisor); and Union Fenosa (electricity
distributor). End Note.)

Energy Crisis a Central Concern for the FSLN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) Santos commented that alleviating the energy crisis
and constant power outages is a top priority for the FSLN.
Ortega is counting on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez'
promises to help Nicaragua with discounted fuel oil and
generators to ease the problem, he explained. According to
Santos, the GON and National Assembly have behaved
"shamefully" by turning the energy crisis into a political
football instead of working to solve the problem. He asked
for any assistance the USG could provide to investigate
solutions. DCM mentioned a recent USAID-sponsored study on
Nicaragua's energy crisis and offered to provide a copy of
the report once it had been completed. An enthusiastic
Santos requested a copy as soon as possible.

FSLN will not Fire the Civil/Foreign Service
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) Santos stated that the FSLN will not engage in mass
firings of the Nicaraguan civil and foreign service -- "We
can not afford to," he commented. He claimed that the FSLN
plans to replace functionaries in only 200 key government
positions. The FSLN faces a shortage of qualified personnel,
Santos admitted, and many Sandinista partisans are clamoring
for government positions as a reward for helping the FSLN win
the elections. The party will probably not be able to
fulfill its pledge of placing women in a large number of
official positions as "many of the qualified women are in the
National Assembly, and we won't pull them out," Santos

Organic Law Reforms
- - - - - - - - - -

5. (C) When DCM mentioned particularly objectionable aspects
of a new law reforming National Assembly procedures ("Ley
Organica" - see Ref A) -- such as a provision to allow secret
votes and the Assembly's new power to issue legal summons to
all citizens and residents -- Santos seemed surprised.
(Comment: Santos' professed ignorance was incongruent as the
"Ley Organica" had been front-page news for three days. End
Comment.) He responded, however, that he understood that all
of the Assembly's caucuses (including the ALN) had reached
consensus on the reforms. DCM commented that the public
perception is that the current Assembly is handcuffing the
next legislature. Santos retorted that the U.S. system
includes "contempt of Congress" regulations. DCM explained
that in our case the entire House or Senate must approve the
resolution first, as opposed to merely the commission
according to the Nicaraguan reforms.

6. (C) Santos later called FSLN deputy and key Ley Organica
negotiator Jose Figueroa for clarification. Figueroa
explained that the article on secret votes was modified to
require a majority approval from the deputies, plus the
consent of all caucus heads and the Assembly president (as
opposed to a one-third vote of the deputies). He also
commented that the Assembly's powers to summon private
individuals will only apply to "matters of state." (Note:
While the bill does specify "matters of state" when referring
to the summoning of public officials (Article 51), it
mentions only "themes of interest to the commission" when
referring to private citizens of entities (Article 52). End

Status of Freedom of Information Law
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) When DCM raised the status of the Freedom of
Information Law, which has been languishing in the Assembly
for months, Santos claimed the PLC is blocking implementation
of the Law, which would significantly increase transparency
in government operations. He noted specifically that the PLC
does not like an article of the Law that would require any
project using government funds to be open to public scrutiny.
Regarding an aspect of the Law regulating the media, Santos
explained that newspapers and other outlets that report on
investigations in progress must also report if the subject is
exonerated with the same level of prominence.

FSLN will not Support Aleman Amnesty
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (C) DCM and polcouns noted that several of the articles
originally proposed in the Ley Organica seemed designed to
facilitate amnesty for Arnoldo Aleman. Santos repeated that
Aleman is a convicted criminal, and the FSLN will not free
him. He noted that President Bolanos mentioned the same
concern during a recent meeting. "We would be burned,"
Santos said, and went on to comment that the issue of
Aleman's amnesty is a Liberal family feud that the FSLN does
not want to be involved in.

9. (C) Santos added that the FSLN won the elections because
of the Liberal division, and the party does not want to
definitively resolve Aleman's status too soon because he is
still "useful" to them. DCM replied that the FSLN could help
modernize Nicaragua's legal framework by definitively
de-linking money laundering from narcotrafficking (an
association often used by Aleman's defense team).

Comment: An Impossible Situation for the FSLN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (C) The FSLN is already encountering difficulties after
promising all things to all people in order to win the
elections. The party has worked hard to mollify investors
and the business class by claiming that the new government
will not oust the civil service wholesale, respect private
property, uphold democratic practices, etc. At the same
time, the FSLN promised "zero unemployment," a resolution to
the energy crisis, "economic justice," and more to their
working class core supporters -- pledges that Santos admits
the party will find challenging (or impossible) to reconcile.
FSLN support for secret votes and other objectionable
elements in the Organic Law reforms already calls into
question the party's true commitment to an open democracy,
and Ortega's inauguration has yet to take place.

© Scoop Media

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