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Cablegate: Cuba's Ambassador to Nicaragua Pnged?

VZCZCXRO1794
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS
RUEHTM
DE RUEHMU #1131 3432049
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 092049Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0254
INFO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001131

SIPDIS
STATE FOR WHA/CEN AND WHA/CCA
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/09
TAGS: PREL PGOV NU
SUBJECT: Cuba's Ambassador to Nicaragua PNGed?

CLASSIFIED BY: RobertJCallahan, Ambassador, State, US Embassy
Managua; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (SBU) Over the weekend, one of Nicaragua's leading dailies (El Nuevo Diario) reported that Cuba's ambassador to Nicaragua (Luis Hernandez Ojeda) concluded his assignment and left the country December 4 under suspicious circumstances. Hernandez presented his credentials to President Daniel Ortega in March 2007. The newspaper reported that on either December 2 or 3, 2009, First Lady Rosario Murillo had a strong disagreement with Hernandez, in which Murillo scornfully treated the Cuban ambassador. As a result the Cuban government removed its ambassador from Managua. The paper notes that Hernandez concluded his mission in Nicaragua without receiving the Order of Jose de Marcoleta, the highest honor bestowed on foreigners for their promotion of diplomatic relations. The daily commented on the irony of the ambassador not receiving the award since Hernandez led his government's assistance programs in Nicaragua, particularly those most praised by the Ortega government - i.e., a campaign to eliminate illiteracy and ophthalmological assistance. In the past few months the award has been presented to the UNDP resident director, the Palestinian ambassador, and the Norwegian ambassador. (Note: The Order of Marcoleta is routinely awarded to departing ambassadors. Since 2007 the Ortega government has failed to award the honor to only two ambassadors: US Ambassador Paul Trivelli and Swedish Ambassador Eva Zetterberg. Upon closing the Swedish mission to Nicaragua, Zetterberg openly criticized the deterioration of democracy in the country. The government officially announced it would award Ambassador Trivelli the honor, but Ortega later rescinded the award in a public speech.)

2. (C) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not confirm this
account to us. The Cuban Embassy confirmed to El Nuevo Diario that
its ambassador departed Nicaragua December 4, but stated it was due
to health reasons. Orlando Parades, Consul General of the
Ecuadorian Embassy in Nicaragua, confirmed media reports that
Hernandez had been in Cuba five or six months for health reasons
and returned to Nicaragua in November. The Consul General of the
fellow ALBA country also told us that his Embassy tried to confirm
the media reports surrounding Hernandez' recent departure from
Nicaragua, but neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Cuban Embassy
would respond to their calls. He commented that the silence from
these two institutions leads one to believe that there is probably
some truth to the account. He also noted that Cuban ambassadors
usually serve for an indefinite period of time, discounting the
argument that Hernandez had fully completed his term as ambassador.


3. (C) Comment: If media reports are true that Hernandez was
forced to leave due to disagreements with First Lady Rosario
Murillo, this would be the third case under the Ortega
administration that an ambassador was removed over differences with
Murillo. The other two were Venezuelan ambassadors Miguel Gomez
and Sergio Rodriguez. Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Norman
Caldera was unclear if the media reports were true. However, he
noted that foreign governments might accept the responsibility once
or twice for the failure of their ambassadors, but sooner or later
they have to wonder if it's not the host government that's the
problem.
CALLAHAN

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