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Cablegate: Nicaraguan Civil Society Alliance Unites Against

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PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2135/01 2612033
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 182033Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1298
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 002135

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DEPT TO WHA/CEN TLERSTON, PASS TO VALVARADO NSC, GMAGGIO DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN CIVIL SOCIETY ALLIANCE UNITES AGAINST
CITIZEN COUNCILS

REF: A. MANAGUA 1944

B. MANAGUA 2025
C. MANAGUA 2043

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

1. (C) Summary: Some ten thousand Nicaraguan opposition
members, political leaders, and regular citizens turned out
for a rally organized by the pro-democracy civil society
organization Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN) on Sunday,
September 9 in the streets of Masaya to voice a united
opposition to the Ortega administration's Citizen Councils
(Consejos de Poder Ciudadano or CPCs) and express solidarity
for survivors of Hurricane Felix. The solid showing at the
rally during a week marked by tragedy demonstrated civil
society's ability to mobilize and broaden civic
participation, as well as evidence of growing public concern
over Ortega's efforts to consolidate power. End Summary.

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Leitmotif: Participation Without Manipulation
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2. (C) Poloff and Pol Assistant attended a September 9 march
against the CPCs organized by MpN in the city of Masaya, 30
minutes from Managua, which proved to be an impressive,
spirited event. The primary aim of the march was to "raise
the voice of the people in defense of liberty" and to reject
the Ortega government's attempts to consolidate its control
through the CPCs (Ref A). Although organizers had some
misgivings about holding the rally while the country was
still mourning the tragedy of Hurricane Felix which struck
the Atlantic Coast just six days earlier (Ref C), MpN
Director Violeta Granera informed us that after consulting
with affiliate organizations and MpN members in departments
throughout the country, they decided to go ahead as planned.
In MpN's view, it was important to continue the pressure on
the government, and sustain the momentum gained from the
National Assembly vote in favor of the reforms to Law 290
(Ref B) which would deny the executive the authority to
institute the Councils.

3. (C) March organizers are concerned that Ortega could still
seek other means to enact the Councils, including an appeal
to the Supreme Court to declare the legislative reforms
unconstitutional. To best register opposition the CPCs, MpN
came up with "Participation without Manipulation" as the
rally slogan that marchers both chanted and wore on blue and
white T-shirts produced for the occasion. Organizers
applauded the "honorable" National Assembly Deputies who had
the courage to vote against the CPCs. Marchers demanded an
end to "authoritarianism, nepotism, and partisanship."

4. (U) Reading aloud from a public letter from MpN to
President Ortega, Maria Antonieta Fiallos put the president
on notice for failing to follow through on a number of
campaign promises, using the CPCs to further divide the
country, and inviting economic ruin through his
confrontational rhetoric. Ortega was betraying his pledge to
govern with peace and reconciliation and achieve a united
Nicaragua, the letter argued, by calling the opposition
"puppets" (peleles) and conspirators. Although he had
promised zero unemployment, his public discourses and actions
were scaring off private investment--foreign and domestic.
Rather than upholding its promise to end corruption, the
government, Fiallos contended, was further corrupting
institutions of the state in order to maintain the
Aleman-Ortega political pact. "Mr. President," Fiallos
declared, "when you use government institutions to attack
your political adversaries or protect your allies and
followers, you are in violation of the rule of law and are
fomenting corruption." For Nicaragua to grow and prosper,
the country needs an impartial system of justice that
complies with the law, not with the "interest of one caudillo
or another," she added.


5. (U) The route commenced at the Plaza of Saint Jerome and
ended at Plaza of Monimbo, where the official act of speeches
was kicked off by the crowd singing in unison the Nicaraguan
national anthem. Although exact numbers at the turnout were
not confirmed, news reports of the event put the number close
to 10,000. In the spirit of emphasizing national unity
instead of political partisanship, the Nicaraguan national
flag was ubiquitous, turning the march into a sea of blue and
white, a stark contrast to the red and black that normally
dominate FSLN events. Between the actual march and the
speeches, the entire event lasted nearly two hours. And
despite the hot sun, people stayed for the duration.
(Comment: One embassy officer heard from a contact that
Sandinista officials were taking note of any government
employees who showed up for work on Monday morning sunburned,
as if that were evidence that they attended the opposition
rally.)

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Opposition United In Opposition to CPCs, Danielismo
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6. (C) Nicaraguans, who are rarely at a loss for words, took
full advantage of the rally to express their discontent, and
reveled in anti-government sloganeering and political
lampooning. The overall mood was buoyant, energetic, and
sometimes irreverant, and everyone we observed seemed happy
to be there. Freedom of expression often took the form of
personal verbal attacks on the first couple, placards calling
for an end of the Aleman-Ortega political pact, a stop to the
government firings of civil servants, demands for more jobs,
denunciations of corrupt judges and public officials, and a
litany of other complaints against the government.
"Degenerate judges, one day you will be judged," captured a
typical sentiment. Another sign that stood out was "We are
the 62%", in reference to the population that did not vote
for the presidency of Daniel Ortega. Toward the end of the
march, poloff noticed the sign had been changed; the 62
crossed out and replaced with a 70. The ALN mayor of Matiguas
was proud of his production, a professionally printed banner
which proclaimed Matiguas the cradle of democracy, with the
slogan "No to the Citizen Councils" in letters dripping
menacingly in Sandinista red and black ink.


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Wide Cast of Characters...Going Beyond the Usual Suspects?
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7. (U) An eclectic crowd participated the march, from former
presidential candidates Jose Rizo of the Liberal
Constitutional Party (PLC) and Eduardo Montealegre of the
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN), various National Assembly
Deputies including Maria Eugenia Sequeira (ALN) and Enrique
Quinones (PLC), as well as Azalia Aviles of the Conservative
Party (PC)-ALN alliance. A number of ALN mayors from the
Department of Matagalpa, incuding Bronley Alvarez, mayor of
Ciudad Dario, joined the mix. As did members of the
dissident Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) alliance and
followers of the late Herty Lewites, former MRS mayor of
Managua and presidential candidate. There was a diverse
non-political presence as well, including a group of
Nicaraguans from Costa Rica and others who advocated for
allowing Nicaraguans living abroad the right to vote and for
expanding the national identification card (cedula)
registration campaign. Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of
President Violeta B. Chamorro; Margarita Gurdian former
Minister of Health under President Bolanos, and Nelson
Estrada of MpN were among other prominent civic leaders who
participated. Representatives throughout the country
attended, including delegations from Matagalpa, Esteli,
Chinandega, Leon, Granada, Carazo, Rivas, as well as a
committee from Bluefields on behalf of the Atlantic Coast.

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The Party Crashers
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8. (C) Shortly after the march commenced, a ragtag group of
about 20 to 30 young men with attitude approached from stage
left, marking their entrance with exploding firecrackers and
cutting through the main route of the march. Many of them
wore T-shirts announcing their affiliation with the
Fraternity of Saint Jerome, a Masaya-based FSLN organization
associated with the Catholic Church which purportedly
receives funding from Daniel Ortega. Some appeared to be
armed with musical instruments--one was carrying a large
tuba, as if on their way to or from a church event. Others
shared the shoulder load of long sticks of thin dry kindling
wood suggesting the possibility of plans to light a fire. A
pick-up truck that apparently belonged to the Masaya mayor's
office brought up the rear. (Comment: The mayor of Masaya is
FSLN.) The marchers let them pass through peacefully; both
the rally crashers and participants chose to ignore each
other.

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Aleman, The Wet Blanket
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9. (U) Likely galled by the open participation of fellow
members of his PLC party, some of whom walked near Jose Rizo,
while others kept company with Enrique Quinones, ex-President
and convicted felon Arnoldo Aleman was not amused by the
march and disparaged the NGOs for mixing it up with the
political parties. In its account of the march, leading
daily La Prensa quoted Aleman saying, "Who elected Violeta
Granera? If they (MpN) want to be a party, they should form a
party." He asserted that he knew how independent
organizations were supposed to act, and in his view the
movement was acting more like a political party than an NGO.
Aleman accused MpN of essentially stealing the thunder from
the PLC which he insisted had engineered the reform of
article 11 of Law 290 in the National Assembly.

- - - -
Comment
- - - -

10. (C) We are encouraged by the success of the rally and
the participation of the range of political parties and civic
groups. MpN has proved up to the task of mobilizing civil
society and is reenergized in the current environment. By
drawing a diverse crowd from across the ideological spectrum
to the cause of defending liberty and encouraging national
unity in the wake of the Hurricane Felix tragedy, MpN
demonstrated that civil society has a critical role to play
in challenging efforts by Ortega to consolidate and
perpetuate his hold on power. The collective opposition to
the CPCs and the desire to help fellow citizens on the
Atlantic Coast offered common ground for people from
different parties to work together. MpN and the civil
movement will need additional resources and training if they
are going to be able to strengthen, broaden, and reinforce
the positive momentum from the Sunday rally.
TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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