Cablegate: Sandinistas Attack U.S. Embassy
DE RUEHMU #1090/01 3032207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADCF91E4 TOQ4070 641)
O 302125Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0057
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS MANAGUA 001090
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TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC CASC NU
SUBJECT: SANDINISTAS ATTACK U.S. EMBASSY
REF: A) 2009 MANAGUA 1035
ENTIRE DOCUMENT IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 29, several hundred Sandinista
National Liberation Front (FSLN) supporters attacked and vandalized
Embassy Managua for approximately four hours. Hundreds of FSLN
youth and state employees surrounded the Embassy, blocking traffic,
and carrying signs calling for the immediate expulsion of the
Ambassador for his October 28 speech in which he commented on the
recent Supreme Court ruling to overturn a constitutional ban on
consecutive reelection that allows President Daniel Ortega to run
again in 2011 (Reftel). Several prominent FSLN surrogates for
Ortega joined the protest and/or called for the Ambassador's
expulsion. They threw bottles, eggs and rocks onto the Embassy
compound, in some cases using improvised hand-held launchers, while
physically remaining outside of it. An official government
statement condemned the Ambassador's comments but fell short of
expelling him. END SUMMARY.
PROTEST AND VANDALISM AGAINST US EMBASSY
2. (SBU) On Thursday, October 29 a group of between four and five hundred government-led Sandinista Youth party members, university students, state workers, and labor union members protested aggressively outside the U.S. Embassy for what they claim is unwelcomed "U.S. interventionism" in Nicaraguan domestic affairs. The protests were in response to the Ambassador's October 28 speech at the American Chamber of Commerce, in which he commented on the controversial ruling by Sandinista magistrates in the Supreme Court to overturn a constitutional ban on consecutive reelection and clear the way for Daniel Ortega to run for President again in 2011.
3. (SBU) Protestors vandalized Embassy property (see attached photo files) by spray-painting anti-US and pro-Sandinista graffiti on the Embassy's security fence, breaking lights and security cameras, defacing consulate signs, throwing bottles, eggs, rocks and other objects at the Embassy. Several protestors wearing hoods or bandanas over their faces launched explosive projectiles with hand-made, hand-held launchers (called "morteros") directly at the Embassy, which cracked at least one window and caused other damage, including to the Consular entrance. Demonstrators waved FSLN party flags and held signs calling for "Death to the Yanquis, Death to Empire," "Callahan Non Grato," and shouted "Callahan, remember Sandino," and "Yankee Go Home." Local police made little effort to control the demonstrations and in some cases facilitated the arrival of protestors. As a result of the violent disturbance the Embassy was forced to discontinue normal consular operations for over four hours, and issued a warden message advising Americans to exercise caution when visiting the Embassy over the next few days.
FSLN LEADERS JOIN PROTEST AND CALLS FOR AMBASSADOR EXPULSION
4. (SBU) The initial group of protestors at the Embassy arrived at
11:00 a.m., following earlier demonstrations at the National
Assembly where university students were protesting against budget
cuts to education and social spending. Around 2:00 p.m., the
protest at the U.S. Embassy strengthened with the arrival of a
large number of public employees. Rounds fired from the "morteros"
continued throughout the afternoon. At about 3:30 pm, National
Assembly Deputy Gustavo Porras arrived outside the Embassy.
Porras, who is also the Secretary General of the FSLN National
Workers Front (FNT) and the Secretary General of the National
Council of Economic and Social Planning (CONPES), made a brief
speech demanding that Ortega declare Callahan "non grata" and "be
expelled for intervention in domestic political affairs." In
referring to the Ambassador, Porras also repeatedly used the
pejorative term "Chele", which is similar to "whitey" in English.
The demonstration dispersed about 30 minutes after Porras' speech
without any reports of major injuries or arrests.
5. (SBU) Edwin Castro, Coordinator of the FSLN Caucus in the
National Assembly, who was not present at the Embassy protest,
stated to local news media that Ambassador Callahan "is intervening
in the internal affairs of Nicaragua and has no right to speak."
Virgilio Silva, president of the EPN (National Ports Authority) and
other high ranking government officials also made similar statement
to government news media throughout the day.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY GON - AMBASSADOR CALLAHAN CHASTISED, NOT EXPELLED
6. (SBU) Following the protest, the GON issued an official
statement (see text in para 7 below) calling the comments of
Ambassador Callahan an "inadmissible interference" in Nicaragua's
domestic affairs and referring to the U.S position as
"destabilizing." It stopped short of calling for the Ambassador's
7. (SBU) BEGIN TEXT OF FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT
The Government of Reconciliation and National Unity declares
unacceptable the interventions and destabilizing policy of the
Government of the United States of North America, expressed the day
before by the Ambassador Robert Callahan, in front of accommodating
The Government of Nicaragua considers inadmissible the intervention
of the United States in the internal affairs, and the sovereignty
decisions of the institutions of the Nicaraguan State.
The Government of Nicaragua reiterates its commitment of Dignity
and National Pride, and its firm decision to construct relations of
understanding, cooperation and respect, with all governments of the
world, including the United States
Managua, October 29, 2009
END TEXT OF FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT
Attached photo files are SBU/FOR INTERNAL USG USE ONLY.
They can NOT/NOT be disseminated outside the USG without the
permission of the photographer.