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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Attorney General Estrada Aspires to Be Ambassador

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1214/01 3271619
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231618Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0175
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCQSAB/USSOCOM INTEL MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001214

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON KIDE PREL PGOV OVIP
SUBJECT: Nicaragua: Attorney General Estrada Aspires To Be Ambassador
To The United States

REF: 08 MANAGUA 1084; STATE 79312; 08 MANAGUA 1414

SUMMARY

-------

1. (SBU) Attorney General Hernan Estrada would like to be
Nicaraguan

ambassador to the United States. He has told U.S. citizens that he
was unhappy that President Daniel Ortega named Arturo Cruz as
ambassador in 2007 and believes that he can do a better job than
Cruz did. We also believe that Estrada no longer wants to be
Attorney General because of the stress of the job. During a recent
meeting with the Ambassador, Estrada attempted to demonstrate his
knowledge of bilateral issues and his command of English. As a
former ambassador to East Germany and Austria in the 1980s, Estrada
has the experience to lead a diplomatic mission, but he remains a
loyal Sandinista hardliner who will follow the orders of Ortega and
First Lady Rosario Murillo. During his trip to Washington in
December, Estrada will want to show and ultimately convince Ortega
that he is capable of managing the U.S.-Nicaragua relationship as
an ambassador.

ESTRADA ASPIRES TO BE NICA AMBASSADOR TO U.S.

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

2. (SBU) Since 2008, rumors have circulated that Attorney
General Hernan Estrada would be named Foreign Minister or
Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States. During a November 12
conversation with U.S. citizen property claimant Norman Senfeld
(Ref A), Estrada told him that he wanted President Ortega to
nominate him as ambassador. Estrada said that he has coveted this
position for some time and expressed his disappointment when
President Ortega nominated Arturo Cruz as ambassador in 2007.

CONFIDENCE IN "HANDLING THE AMERICANS"

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

3. (SBU) Jorge Estrada (no relation), president of a real

estate development company, told Econoff that Attorney General
Estrada had expressed his aspiration of becoming ambassador to him.
Attorney General Estrada boasted to him that "he could handle the
Americans." Several U.S. claimants have also told us that Attorney
General Estrada has bragged that his trip to Washington in July to
meet with USG officials and members of the U.S. Congress was the
reason why Nicaragua was granted a Section 527 waiver for 2009-2010
(Ref B).

ROLE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL TAKING ITS TOLL

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

4. (SBU) We also believe that Estrada would like to become
ambassador

because of the stress of his current job. After we delivered the
Secretary's Section 527 waiver decision for the 2009-2010 period to
him on July 30, he told our local staff that "this job is making me
old." Raul Calvet, president of a tourism and real estate services
company, said Estrada is under pressure from Ortega and First Lady
Rosario Murillo to deliver on promises of land to Sandinista
National Liberation Front (FSLN) supporters and their business
cronies.

CHARM OFFENSIVE

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

5. (SBU) During a November 10 meeting with the Ambassador, Estrada

attempted to demonstrate his knowledge on issues related to


security, counternarcotics, economic development, and tourism.
Estrada emphasized that the Government of Nicaragua (GON) was
committed to cooperating with the USG in these areas, and both
countries should strive to improve the bilateral relationship.
Estrada also spoke some English to show his command of the
language. At the beginning of the meeting, Estrada greeted the
Ambassador by saying, "the Ambassador of the U.S. Empire." The
Ambassador looked at him coldly, shook his hand forcefully, and
said "enough already." Estrada explained that he also used the
word "empire" when he greeted Mexican officials in reference to the
Aztec Empire. Estrada asserted that "empire" was a nod to the
greatness of a nation. Throughout the meeting, Estrada worked
diligently to smooth things over and even asked the Ambassador for
his opinion on which country had the greatest empire.


EXPERIENCE AS AN AMBASSADOR...

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

6. (U) During the first Sandinista government in the 1980s, Estrada
worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as
ambassador to East Germany and Austria from 1986-1990. He speaks
Spanish, English and German. As Attorney General, Estrada has
acted as the GON's representative in international fora on human
rights, money laundering, and counternarcotics cooperation.

...BUT UNABASHED FSLN LOYALIST

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

7. (SBU) Although Estrada prides himself to be one of the
intellectual elite of the Sandinista party, he is an unabashed FSLN
foot soldier who is trusted to implement and defend Ortega's
policies. Estrada also serves as one of the GON's unofficial
spokesmen and partisan hatchet men for the FSLN party (Ref C).
Estrada can be an arrogant, difficult, and evasive person one
minute and smiling, effusive, and charming the next.

COMMENT

-------

8. (SBU) The purpose of Estrada's trip to Washington in December is
to show Ortega that he is capable of managing the U.S.-Nicaragua
relationship as an ambassador. In fact, he has been pushing his
staff to resolve as many U.S. citizen property claims as possible
before the trip. Estrada believes that if he can hold USG
officials at bay regarding our concerns about Nicaragua's property
claims resolution process in December -- as he thought that he did
in July -- he will be able to convince Ortega that he should be
nominated as ambassador.
CALLAHAN

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