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Cablegate: Nicaraguans Respond to Court Ruling On Re-Election

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PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #1041/01 2952123
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 222123Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4678
INFO RUEHMU/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 001041

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, DRL
STATE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUANS RESPOND TO COURT RULING ON RE-ELECTION

REF: MANAGUA 1035

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

1. (C) Summary: After the Supreme Court's (CSJ) ruling
allowing Presdient Daniel Ortega's re-election, civil society
across the board has stated clearly its opposition to the
decision. They have labeled the decision as illegal and a
major step backward for Nicaragua's democracy. While NGOs
continue to put out statements and communiques denouncing the
ruling, youth have taken to the street in small acts of
protest. Meanwhile, Ortega and his FSLN stalwarts publicly
defend the decision and "the people's right to chose their
leaders." The FSLN has also moved preemptively in occupying
public spaces to intimidate and prevent any large public
opposition to Ortega and the court's ruling. End Summary.

-----------------------------------------
NGOs Call for Public to Resist, Youth Act
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In the days following the October 19 CSJ ruling
(reftel), NGOs and other non-political actors have denounced
the court's decision in allowing Ortega's re-election. The
day following the ruling Movimiento por Nicaragua, the
Autonomous Women's Movement, and other NGOs issued a joint
statement describing the ruling as an illegitimate mechanism
to allow Ortega's re-election and rejecting "the birth of a
dictatorship in Nicaragua." They also called on Nicaraguans
to peacefully resist the dictatorship and as of now not to
recognize any national election that includes Ortega as a
candidate. Another NGO, Hagamos Democracia, characterized
the ruling as "aberrant and opportunistic, which violates the
Constitution." It then warns that the CSJ's decision marks
"regression in the democratic process that could lead to
violence." Similar statements were repeated from a variety
of NGOs and more are expected.

3. (SBU) Other non-political actors have expressed
themselves in similar terms. Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata, Vice
President of Nicaragua's Conference of Bishops, stated that
while he was not an attorney, "the sad truth was that those
who govern use the Constitution as toilet paper." The two
principal private sector entities also denounced the court's
decision. In its statement, the American Chamber of Commerce
in Nicaragua (AmCham) denounced the court for acting "against
all judicial logic" and rejected the "illegal and
illegitimate" ruling of the magistrates who "violated
(Nicaragua's) constitutional order." It said actions like
these do nothing but scare off foreign investment and inhibit
the possibilities of development. The Higher Council of the
Private Sector (COSEP) rejected that the court, "through a
ruling, reformed the constitution , which is solely the
jurisdiction of the National Assembly or a constituent
assembly ... this decision, is therefore, a violation of the
constitution and the rule of law."

4. (C) While organized groups of civil society publicly
denounced the CSJ's ruling and called for Nicaraguans to
unite and resist Ortega's dictatorial tendencies, several
youth groups have begun to act out against the governing FSLN
and the state institutions that the party controls. One
group carried a toilet in front of the Supreme Electoral
Council (CSE) and simulated a CSE magistrate defecating on
Nicaragua; the group held posters that read "Magistrates:
treason has a high price." Another group awaited the arrival
of CSJ magistrate Francisco Rosales in front of a television
station; upon Rosales' arrival the university group hurled
eggs at the magistrate. Yet another group sprayed graffiti
in Managua calling for Nicaraguans to stand-up to Ortega and
holding posters that read, "after Mel goes Ortega" (in
reference to the situation in Honduras).

----------------------------------------
FSLN Defends Decision - "Ortega in 2011"
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) While civil society groups denounce the court's
decision as illegal and youth groups begin to take small
steps to demonstrate their frustration, Ortega and his

MANAGUA 00001041 002 OF 002


governing FSLN are aggressively defending the court's
decision and have preemptively occupied key public spaces to
forestall opposition demonstrations. In an October 20 public
speech, Ortega belittled the opposition to the court's
decision and stated that the ruling "cannot be appealed ...
it is written in stone." Other FSLN leadership have been
making the rounds carrying the same message. CSJ Vice
President Rafael Solis (a close confident of Ortega and one
of six judges who voted for the re-election), told media
"this issue is closed. They (the opposition) have to accept
that Daniel Ortega will be a candidate in 2011." In another
statement, Solis apparently recognized that his party does
not represent (nor govern) for all Nicaraguans by stating
"38% of the population is happy and the rest of the people
are saying terrible things of us" (in allusion to the 38% of
the population who voted for Ortega in the 2006 presidential
election).

6. (SBU) Another trusted Ortega ally also has backed
publicly the court's decision and called people to the
streets. As he has in the past, National Assembly Deputy
Gustavo Porras (FSLN) called the governing party's supporters
to occupy Managua's rotundas to "support the court's
decision" because the streets "belong to us." As a result,
on October 20 FSLN supporters moved preemptively to occupy
public space and prevent the opposition from mounting in
public protests or marches. (Note: In the past, the FSLN has
reacted violently to public demonstrations in opposition to
the government.) Other government officials also have stated
that they will take to the streets. Minister of Education
Miguel de Castilla told media that he and public school
teachers would go to the streets to publicly support the
court's ruling and Ortega's re-election.

7. (C) Finally, it appears that Ortega also coordinated some
international support for the court's ruling to further
"legitimize" the decision. Immediately following the court's
ruling on October 19, the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alliance
for the People of our America (ALBA) issued a communique
acknowledging the CSJ action, ratifying ALBA's support for
the democratic institutions of Nicaragua, and applauding the
Nicaraguan people for the continual consolidation of its
democratic system.

-------
Comment
-------

8. (C) As expected, civil society as a whole has rejected
the court's ruling on Ortega's re-election, calling the
decision illegal, a blow to Nicaragua's constitutional order,
and a step backward for Nicaraguan democracy. While NGOs and
other organized groups take time to think through what
actions they will take, small groups of youth have begun to
demonstrate their frustration with the FSLN and the state
institutions they control. How these civil society groups
will combine with the political opposition to the court's
ruling and Ortega remains to be seen. (Note: Political
parties' opposition to the court's ruling will be reported
septel.) However, the fact that Ortega and his FSLN
immediately defended the decision and have taken to the
streets increases the risk that events in Nicaragua could
turn violent.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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