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Cablegate: Nicaraguan Democracy & Indigenous Women's Leader

VZCZCXRO2584
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0845/01 2391506
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271506Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4493
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000845

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USAID
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN KRAAIMOORE
DEPT FOR DRL MAGGIO & GARCIA
DEPT FOR INR/IIA ARCHUBTA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SOCI ELAB EFIS KWMN NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN DEMOCRACY & INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S LEADER
WOUNDED BY POLICE

REF: MANAGUA 415 (MISKITO INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT)

Classified By: Ambassador Robert J. Callahan for reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: On June 9 in Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua's
North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), Miskito indigenous
leader and democracy defender Marcela Davis was shot and
wounded by Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) during a protest
by Miskito lobster divers over falling lobster prices. The
subsequent police investigation has been fraught with
irregularities. Our contacts in the region, and Davis
herself, believe that she was purposely targeted because of
her opposition to the Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN) and the indigenous Yatama party (allied with the FSLN)
as well as her support for the recent indigenous independence
movement (see reftel). We are unable to confirm the charge
of an intended shooting, but it does not appear that the NNP
is investigating the case with great enthusiasm. END SUMMARY

--------------------------------------
MARCELA DAVIS & FALLING LOBSTER PRICES
--------------------------------------

2. (C) Marcela Davis, a 45-year old Afro-Miskito Nicaraguan,
is the leader of a women's co-op that supports lobster divers
in the RAAN. She has also been a critical voice against the
Yatama and FSLN political parties that control the region,
and she supports the recent independence movement declared by
the ad hoc Miskito Council of Elders (see reftel). The
world-wide economic crisis has dramatically reduced the
demand and prices for Nicaragua's Caribbean lobsters. Before
the crisis, Miskito lobster divers could earn US$4.00 a pound
for the lobsters they caught; in June employers were offering
lobster divers between US$2.00 to $2.50 a pound. The
dramatic cut in prices was a huge hardship to this
economically disadvantaged region and in particular to the
lobster divers and the women,s co-op that supports them.

-------------------
DAY OF THE SHOOTING
-------------------

3. (C) On June 9, Hector Williams, the Wihta Tara (Miskito
for "great judge") and leader of the independence movement,
called on Miskito lobster divers to protest announced cuts to
lobster prices. Hundreds of Miskito lobster divers took over
the main wharf in Puerto Cabezas (while unarmed NNP officers
looked-on) after a two-hour meeting between the Wihta Tara
and the Nicaragua Navy commander broke down. The protestors
occupied the wharf for a few hours, tipping over a couple of
private vehicles before marching to the Central Park and then
to the home of the largest lobster employer, Carlos Gaff.
Davis, who participated in the march, said that when the
protestors arrived near Mr. Gaff's home, a truck with 10
armed NNP officers was already parked outside. The
protesters, upon seeing the armed police, stopped their march
towards the Gaff home. Davis said that after a few moments
and without warning there were two shots fired into the air.
Then a female NNP officer fired twice at Davis, who was near
the front of the crowd. The first shot entered below her
right bicep, shattering the humerus bone, before exiting the
back of her arm. (NOTE: Davis,s doctors believe that it was
divine providence that the bullet ricocheted off her bone, or
it would have entered her chest and killed her. END NOTE) In
addition to Davis, two other protesters were wounded in the
melee that followed. Four days of strikes and general unrest
followed.

---------------------
POLICE INVESTIGATION?
---------------------

4. (C) The police maintain that they did not shoot Davis, but
rather someone in the crowd did. However, the female NNP
officer that allegedly shot Davis was immediately sent on
vacation following the incident. X-rays confirmed that a
police bullet struck Davis' arm, mysteriously disappeared
from the Puerto Cabezas hospital. Within days of the
shooting, Davis spoke with the women's police commissioner

MANAGUA 00000845 002 OF 002


about her case to no avail. One month later she met with
police sub-commissioner Emilio Roche (Badge #1033) about the
status of the investigation. Davis told us that during this
meeting with the police "they tried to buy (her) off" with
free food and asked her to "sign a document" that would
release any liability on the police. Davis refused to accept
the bribe or sign any document. She told us she has no hope
of receiving justice in her case. She also suffers great
pain from her wound, is now out of work, and has no way to
support her four children and elderly mother.

5. (C) When we contacted the police station in Bilwi about
the status of the police investigation, Commander Emilio
Rodriguez was tight-lipped about it. He told us that the
investigation has been in the Public Defender,s office since
a week following the incident. However, he did not want to
share any details about the case, specifically who the
investigation was against.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (C) RAAN contacts believe that the initial shots by NNP
officers were not provoked by the crowd; moreover, they tell
us that it was no accident that Marcela Davis was
specifically targeted from among a group of over 200-300
protestors. Our contacts believe that the FSLN purposely
provoked the riot situation to use the Miskito diver protest
as an opportunity to silence one of the region,s more vocal
defenders of democracy and an outspoken critic of the
Yatama-FSLN alliance. Of course, these contacts are strongly
opposed to the FSLN and their Yatama allies which may color
their judgment. Nonetheless, the possibility that Police
intentionally fired upon an unarmed leader of an opposition
group is extremely disturbing. We will closely monitor the
ongoing investigation, such as it is.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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