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Cablegate: Apre Renegotiating Alliance with Aln

VZCZCXRO6667
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2701/01 3491920
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151920Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8443
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0868
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 002701

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: APRE RENEGOTIATING ALLIANCE WITH ALN

REF: A. MANAGUA 2673
B. MANAGUA 2646 AND PREVIOUS
C. MANAGUA 0392
D. 2005 MANAGUA 3246

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

1. (C) Summary: Alliance for the Republic (APRE)
President/National Assembly deputy Miguel Lopez Baldizon
claims that his party's formal agreement with the Nicaraguan
Liberal Alliance (ALN) expired following Nicaragua's November
national elections, but he is negotiating a new alliance with
the ALN and hopes to serve as one of ALN president/incoming
Assembly deputy Eduardo Montealegre's senior advisers. Lopez
Baldizon, who ran on the ALN's slate of National Assembly
deputies but was not elected, informed recently informed
polcouns that APRE expects to hold its annual board elections
in February. He believes that the ALN and its political
allies must craft a joint strategy or risk losing momentum,
arguing that much of the ALN's votes in November were "soft"
and thanks in large part to the support of its political
allies. He claims that the National Assembly's contributions
of funds to "ghost" foundations is even worse than reported
and involves both PLC and FSLN lawmakers. End Summary.

2. (C) On December 13, APRE President/National Assembly
deputy Miguel Lopez Baldizon assured polcouns that, while his
party's formal agreement with the ALN expired following the
November elections, he is negotiating a new alliance with ALN
President Eduardo Montealegre and hopes to serve as one of
Montealegre's senior advisers. He acknowledged that the
media had "misinterpreted" his recent remarks to the effect
that APRE had broken its alliance with the ALN, when in fact,
the alliance had expired and APRE is negotiating a new
accord. This time, APRE will take more time to negotiate,
however. (Note: As APRE President, Lopez Baldizon joined
the ALN alliance just hours before the Supreme Electoral
Commission's (CSE) May 11 deadline. End Note.)

APRE TO HOLD INTERNAL ELECTIONS IN FEBRUARY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) According to Lopez Baldizon, who was seventh on the
ALN's national slate of Assembly deputies but was not
reelected, APRE should hold its annual board elections o/a
February 8. He is seeking financial backing from the private
sector for the event. He downplayed former APRE presidential
candidate Jose Antonio Alvarado's influence in the party,
noting that after Alvarado reunited with Arnoldo Aleman's
Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) and ran as the PLC's vice
presidential candidate, the vast majority of APRE supporters
backed APRE's official alliance with the ALN.

IN SEARCH OF A JOINT STRATEGY AND NEGOTIATING SKILLS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) Lopez Baldizon voiced concern that the ALN and its
political allies lack a joint strategy that will enable the
alliance to defend its interests in the National Assembly and
prepare for the 2008 municipal and 2011 national elections.
Asserting that most of the ALN's votes in November were
"soft" and thanks in large part to the support of its
political allies, Lopez Baldizon criticized ALN members, like
Montealegre confidantes Eliseo Nunez Jr. and Sr., who argue
that the ALN should run without its allied parties for the
2008 municipal elections. He asserted that without its
allies, the ALN would not have placed second in the
presidential race -- noting that about 60% of ALN's party
poll watchers (fiscales) who monitored the November 5
elections in Managua and defended the ALN's votes were APRE
members.

5. (C) Regarding ongoing Assembly negotiations over its new
Executive Board (Junta Directiva) and committee leadership,
Lopez Baldizon questioned Montealegre's choice of Yamileth
Bonilla, Eliseo Nunez, Sr., Luis Callejas, and Jorge
Matamoros to represent the ALN's interests -- terming them
"confrontational" intermediaries that likely rile their
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) counterparts.
Further, the personal ambitions of these ALN negotiators to
occupy key leadership positions in the legislature present a
conflict of interest, he argued. Rather, ALN intermediaries
should negotiate for the "good of the alliance."

6. (C) Lopez Baldizon, who recently returned from Tokyo
where he and Assembly President Eduardo Gomez participated in
the annual Forum of Parliamentarians for Global Action,
shared his efforts to establish a think tank that would help
the new opposition to compete against the FSLN government.
He is meeting with members of the Bolanos government,
Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN) and other civil society
groups, and universities to work on this project. Lopez
Baldizon mentioned that INCAE's Eduardo Montiel was receptive
to the idea of establishing a degree or certificate program
on "political management."

PLC MILITANTS SIGNAL INTEREST IN JOINING THE ALN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) Regarding the possible "recruitment" of "salvageable"
incoming and lame duck PLC Assembly deputies to the ALN
caucus, Lopez Baldizon suggested that Jaime Garcia, Guillermo
Montenegro, Lombardo Martinez, and possibly Carlos Noguera,
"were ripe for the picking." Montenegro had complained to
him, however, that Montealegre was lukewarm in his reception
of Montenegro (Montenegro was not reelected). As for PLC
deputy Enrique Quinonez, Lopez Baldizon opined that Quinonez
is "not desirable" and the ALN should not seek him out.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO "GHOST" FOUNDATIONS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (C) Responding to polcouns' query regarding the recent
press coverage alleging that a number of lawmakers have
misused government funds to support "ghost" NGOs,
Lopez-Baldizon confirmed that this activity is common. He
claimed, however, that the left-leaning daily Nuevo Diario's
coverage of these irregularities is lopsided because the
reports almost exclusively point to PLC lawmakers engaged in
the wrongdoing when FSLN deputies are also at fault. Lopez
Baldizon believes the scope of the problem is even worse than
reported, estimating that PLC and FSLN lawmakers have
diverted up to 100 million cordobas (about USD 5.5 million)
to these non-existent NGOs.

9. (C) According to Lopez Baldizon, the 100 million cordobas
is in addition to the annual budgeting of 420,000 cordobas
for each Assembly deputy to dedicate to social projects.
Members of the Assembly's economic committee should be partly
held responsible for these irregularities because the
committee proposes the donations, he said. (Note: Members of
the current economic committee include Wilfredo Navarro
(PLC), Maria Haydee Osuna (PLC), Walmaro Gutierrez (FSLN),
Bayardo Arce (FSLN), Noel Ramirez (PLC), Enrique Quinonez
(PLC), Rene Nunez (FSLN), Jose Figueroa (FLSN) Alba Palacios
(FSLN), Eduardo Mena (PLC), Oscar Moncada (PLC). End Note.)

WAYS AND MEANS LAW IN THE FAST LANE, FOIA ON HOLD
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (C) Lopez Baldizon criticized the National Assembly's
decision to expedite the passage of a new Organic Ways and
Means Law (Ref. B) that reinforces the PLC-FSLN power-sharing
pact and allows Assembly committees to summon individuals and
entities at whim. He predicted, however, that President
Bolanos will veto the law, which would mean that the new
Assembly Junta would serve only one, not two years and would
place the onus for reviving the bill on the next assembly and
President-elect Daniel Ortega. Lopez Baldizon contrasted the
Assembly's quick action on the ways and means law to its
stalling on passing the Freedom of Access to Information Law
that would provide the public access to government
information. He ventured that the ALN is willing to support
the information law, but while the FSLN claims it will lend
its 38 votes, it continues to stall. Polcouns remarked that
FSLN International Affairs Secretary Samuel Santos had
assured us the FSLN supports the bill (Ref. A). She
encouraged Lopez Baldizo
n to raise the matter with FSLN/Convergencia deputies Edwin
Castro and Agustin Jarquin.

COMMENT
- - - -

11. (C) APRE, which was part of President Bolanos' effort to
break Aleman's hold on Nicaragua's Liberals, enjoys little
political clout and only one APRE deputy, Eduardo Gomez, was
elected to the new Assembly, on the ALN ticket. Without the
ALN, APRE's future is bleak, and we expect that Lopez
Baldizon will keep his party within the ALN alliance. Along
with the other lawmakers who were not reelected, Lopez
Baldizon is now focusing his energies on finding a new job.
Thus far, he has shown considerable political mettle and
appears to support the evolution of Nicaragua's caudillo
political culture into one that is truly democratic.
TRIVELLI

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