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Cablegate: Sandinista Labor Union Protests Against Daniel

VZCZCXRO0914
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0891/01 2512200
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 082200Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4543
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0419
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000891

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN KRAAIMOORE
DEPT FOR DRL MAGGIO, MITTLEHAUSER
DEPT FOR INL/IAA ARCHULETA
STATE PASS USAID
STATE FOR USOAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2019
TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM NU
SUBJECT: SANDINISTA LABOR UNION PROTESTS AGAINST DANIEL
ORTEGA

REF: A. MANAGUA 835
B. MANAGUA 828

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: On August 21, approximately three hundred
union members from the Central Sandinista de Trabajadores
(CST), the smaller of Nicaragua's two principal Sandinista
party-affiliated labor confederations, protested in front of
President Daniel Ortega's residence/headquarters. They
called on President Ortega to fulfill his campaign promises
to improve workers' rights and to also "call off" a campaign
by the Ministry of Labor (MITRAB) against their union. The
protest follows a heated public war of words between CST
President Roberto Gonzalez and Gustavo Porras, the General
Secretary of the larger Sandinista labor union Frente
Nacional de Trabajadores (FNT) (see reftel A), and may show
signs of growing divisions within the Sandinista ranks. END
SUMMARY

--------------------------------------------- ----
CST LABOR PROTEST FROM MITRAB TO PRESIDENT'S HOME
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (C) On August 21, three hundred Central Sandinista de
Trabajadores (CST) union members began a protest in front of
the Ministry of Labor (MITRAB) to complain about MITRAB
"persecution" of employers who have large CST unions. CST
workers allege that MITRAB inspectors were harassing their
employers with excessive inspections and fines, while leaving
alone employers with FNT workers because of the ongoing fight
between CST leader Roberto Gonzalez and FNT leader Gustavo
Porras. (NOTE: Porras is a Deputy for the FSLN party in the
National Assembly, where he presides over the Health
Commission. He is also a key confidant of First Lady Rosario
Murillo and holds a senior position in the national
leadership of Murillo's Citizens Power Councils (CPCs). END
NOTE) When CST workers learned that the Minister of Labor,
Janneth Chavez, would not meet with them nor listen to their
demands, they marched to the Sandinista National Liberation
Front (FSLN) party headquarters, which is also the residence
of President Daniel Ortega, and from the location which he
governs the country as President.

3. (C) Protesting CST union members remained outside the
President's residence and FSLN party headquarters for at
least two hours, chanting Sandinista slogans and dedicating a
song to First Lady Rosario Murillo about "how sad the rains
sounds under cardboard-roofed homes" of Nicaragua's workers.
Three of the protesters were able to deliver a letter of
complaint to Ortega's office, but none of the President's
staff received them. The leader of the protest, Pedro Ortega
(no relation to the President), complained that President
Ortega had not fulfilled his campaign promises for fair
salaries, jobs and housing, despite already having been in
office for more than half of his five-year term. Protest
leader Ortega expressed frustration that MITRAB was fighting
against CST workers. He also threatened that if President
Ortega did not keep his promises "CST will take over the
streets with at least five thousand workers."

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

4. (C) The CST protests in front of both MITRAB and President
Ortega's home are new developments in the growing conflict
between the two largest Sandinista unions - FNT and CST. The
CST protest reveals a deepening sense of dissatisfaction
among the ranks of the Sandinistas with the Ortega
administration's failure to produce on its campaign promises
to improve conditions for workers. Moreover, the protests
demonstrate the failure of behind the scenes negotiations to
bring a resolution the politically embarrassing turf battle
between the CST and FNT.

CALLAHAN

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