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Cablegate: Ortega's Judicial Coup: The Aln Blocks Opposition Unity

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1065/01 3071704
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 031704Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0078
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001065

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/03
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NU
SUBJECT: Ortega's Judicial Coup: The ALN Blocks Opposition Unity

REF: A) MANAGUA 1045; B) MANAGUA 1035; C) MANAGUA 96

CLASSIFIED BY: RobertJ.Callahan, Ambassador, State, Embassy Managua;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: The political opposition's latest effort at
unity, initiated October 21 in response to the Supreme Court's
(CSJ) ruling to allow Ortega's re-election, appears to have come to
a halt on October 28 in the National Assembly. The "united"
opposition previously had committed to work together to move
legislation in the Assembly to annul the CSJ's ruling. However,
when it came time to place the legislation on the agenda, the
opposition was divided and the Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN) was again able to move forward its own agenda. This latest
incident underscores the main obstacle toward a true united
opposition - i.e., some parties (and its leaders) continue to care
more about personal interests and benefits rather than in
countering Ortega's anti-democratic practices. End Summary.

----------------------------------------

An Ephemeral United Opposition

----------------------------------------

2. (C) On October 21 the opposition political parties from across
the ideological spectrum gathered and agreed to work together to
combat "the consolidation of Ortega's dictatorship" (ref A). A
component of this agreement was to cooperate in the National
Assembly, where the opposition parties, along with the independents
who joined them, had a two-vote majority. The opposition's
legislative strategy was to prevent quorum on October 27 and force
the Assembly's Executive Committee (EC) to establish a new
legislative agenda, which would include legislation to repeal the
CSJ's ruling. This strategy was agreed to by the heads of each
opposition bloc in the legislature, as well as the four opposition
members of the Assembly's EC (two from the Liberal Constitutional
Party, PLC, and two from the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, ALN).

3. (C) On October 27 the opposition parties were successful in
preventing quorum and forcing the EC to re-convene. However, this
was as far as the "united" opposition was able to proceed. When
the EC convened on October 28, Deputy Alejandro Ruiz (ALN)
abstained from voting on the legislation repealing the CSJ ruling.
This allowed National Assembly President Rene Nunez (FSLN) to vote
twice, giving the FSLN control of the agenda and rejecting the
legislation to repeal the CSJ re-election ruling. Of approximately
seven items the opposition wanted on the agenda, they succeeded in
getting only half. This included legislation to annul the 2008
municipal elections, an item certain parties of the opposition had
pushed since last year's fraudulent elections. With the
legislation to annul the elections on the agenda, ALN and PLC
deputies have now stated that they will form quorum the week of
November 2. Deputies from the other opposition parties have not
stated whether or not they will make quorum, but noted that if the
ALN and PLC cooperate with the FSLN there will be effectively
nothing to stop the governing party's agenda - and no official
means to try and repeal the CSJ ruling.

--------------------------------------

ALN - Facilitator for Corruption

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4. (C) Despite promising to his colleagues in the opposition his
support for legislation to repeal the CSJ sentence, Ruiz defended
his abstention stating he needed to carefully review the
legislation. However, others from the opposition view Ruiz'
actions as characteristic of the ALN's duplicitous role in

Nicaraguan politics. The ALN has five deputies in the Assembly,
who are usually the decisive votes in the legislature. For the
most part, all five (or the necessary number) vote with the FSLN on
key legislation. Various opposition deputies of the Assembly (as
well as administrative staff in the legislature) have told us that
the FSLN pays the ALN deputies for its votes as a bloc or
individually, as needed. Additionally, it is widely believed that
the ALN deputies are often the vehicle by which Ortega and PLC
leader Arnoldo Aleman operate their power-sharing agreement
(locally known as the "pacto"). The ALN votes allow Aleman and his
PLC to deliver the needed legislation to the FSLN, while allowing
the PLC to publicly present itself as an opposition party. Since
the CSJ ruling, it was widely believed that Aleman was either aware
that the decision would be taken or actually involved in the
process, and he would therefore not truly attempt to repeal the
ruling.

5. (C) This latest vote in the EC regarding the CSJ repeal
legislation is one of many instances throughout the year that raise
concern as to the true motives behind the ALN and PLC votes in the
Assembly and strengthen the popular belief that the ALN's role is
that of facilitator of the Ortega-Aleman Pacto. It is widely
believed that the January 16 vote for the composition of the EC
(ref C) was the start of this latest iteration of the pacto. At
that time, the PLC voted for the new EC to include the two ALN
members, arguing that this composition would give "democratic"
forces a majority on the committee. Since that time, however, the
FSLN with only two members has dominated the EC and succeeded in
promoting its own agenda, to the detriment of the opposition's
agenda. As reported in ref C, Aleman gave the FSLN control of the
legislature in exchange for his freedom. A more recent example
also points to the ALN as the bridge between the two caudillos. On
October 13 the Assembly approved the government's budget reform
bill. In public the PLC stated its opposition to the legislation,
but according to several deputies (including one from the ALN), the
PLC voted with the FSLN to push the legislation quickly through
committee and amended it to include funds for traditionally strong
PLC areas of the country. In the end, the PLC did not vote for the
legislation, but the ALN votes allowed the bill to pass - with the
extra funding for the PLC territories. For reasons like these,
politicians in the Vamos con Eduardo (VcE) and MRS parties (and the
public in general) are weary of the ALN's and PLC's posturing as
true opposition parties.

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Comment

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6. (C) In a recent poll, over 63% of the population believed the
opposition needed to unite in order to counter Ortega's
authoritarian practices and preserve Nicaragua's democracy.
Unfortunately, the poll also showed that most Nicaraguans (over
45%) believed personal/partisan interests were too great and would
prohibit a true united front; this even after the CSJ ruling on
Ortega's re-election. Sadly, Nicaraguans know too well their
political leaders, who have once again demonstrated that their
personal interests are above anything else.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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