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Cablegate: Nicaragua: 2009 Country Report On Terrorism

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC EFIN KCRM KHLS PINS PREL AEMR NU
SUBJECT: Nicaragua: 2009 Country Report on Terrorism

REF: A) 09 STATE 122733; B) 09 STATE 109980

General Assessment

1. No acts of international terrorism occurred in Nicaragua in
2009. Three items from the 2008 report that remained largely
unchanged. In 2009 Nicaragua made no substantive progress towards
establishing a Financial Intelligence Unit or passing the
counterterrorism bill first proposed in 2004. Also, Nicaragua's
judicial system remained a vulnerability that could be exploited by
international terrorist groups. The judiciary remained highly
politicized, corrupt and prone to manipulation by political elites
and organized crime. The November 2007 decision by President
Ortega granting Iranian and Libyan nationals visa-free entry into
Nicaragua remained in effect during 2009. On March 18, 2009
Nicaragua upgraded several countries to visa-free entry status,
which included Ecuador and the Palestinian Authority. Sensitive
reporting indicates that human traffickers were adjusting their
routes accordingly.

2. President Daniel Ortega continued to develop close relations
with Cuba through official visits and regular, high-level contact
with Cuban officials. On September 10, Nicaragua established
formal diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two
small breakaway Georgian Republics recognized only by Russia,
Venezuela and Nauru. Ortega sustained close relations with the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2009. On October
12, Nicaragua refused an official extradition request from Ecuador
for two suspected FARC operatives who had been granted asylum in
2008 and continued to provide safe haven to one additional known
senior FARC commander. During 2009, Nicaragua also gave political
asylum to three Peruvian indigenous leaders accused of instigating
a confrontation in the Peruvian Amazon that left 33 dead.
President Ortega conducted no official state visits to Iran in
2009.

Safe Haven Assessment

3. In 2009, President Ortega continued to provide safe haven to
Doris Torres Boh????rquez and Martha Perez Guti????rrez, two
suspected
FARC operatives and survivors of the March 2008 Colombian military
operation against the FARC. Both were granted asylum in Nicaragua
and welcomed by President Ortega as survivors of "state-sponsored
terrorism by Colombia." On October 12 the GON refused Ecuador's
request to extradite Torres and Perez on the grounds that doing so
would violate their human rights. Also during 2009, senior FARC
official Nubia Calderon de Trujillo continued to enjoy
"humanitarian asylum" in Nicaragua. In 2008 the U.S. Department of
Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) designated
Calderon de Trujillo, along with seven other FARC international
representatives, as significant narco-traffickers under the Kingpin
Act. During 2009 Calderon, Torres and Perez did not appear
publicly in Nicaragua.

4. There was no new information in the case of Alberto Bermudez,
aka Rene Alberto Gutierrez Pastran, aka "Cojo," the FARC emissary
granted a false Nicaraguan identity by Nicaragua's Supreme
Electoral Council (CSE). However in December 2009, local media
reported that the CSE provided legitimate Nicaraguan identity
documents for false identities to several suspected drug
traffickers, including Amauri Paul (alias Alberto Ruiz Cano), a
Colombian criminal who was involved in an attack against Nicaraguan
counter-narcotics forces that killed two Nicaraguan Navy personnel.

5. On June 9, 2009, the government granted political asylum to
three Peruvian indigenous leaders, Alberto Pizango, Saul Puerta and
Cervando Puerta. Pizango and the Puerta brothers received asylum
in Nicaragua only days after the Peruvian government accused them
of instigating an armed confrontation in the Peruvian Amazon that
left 24 police and nine indigenous people dead. On October 13,
Saul Puerta and Cervando Puerta returned to Peru after a Peruvian
court overturned arrest orders against them. The same court upheld
the arrest order for Pizango, who remains in Nicaragua.

Terrorist Organizations

6. No known terrorist groups operated openly in Nicaragua;
however, as noted above, during 2009 at least three suspected FARC
operatives were granted safe haven by the government of Nicaragua
and remain in the country. Both the FARC and the ETA (Basque
Fatherland and Liberty) have retired or inactive members residing
in Nicaragua. Iran, Cuba and Libya maintained embassies in
Nicaragua during 2008.

Foreign Government Cooperation

7. During 2009, the Embassy had increasing difficulty obtaining
information from or access to civilian officials of the GON. In
one instance the GON failed to comply with a routine evidence
transfer request related to an arms-for-drugs case involving the
FARC. Even so, there were several U.S.-Nicaragua
military-to-military counterterrorism-related exchanges during the
year that improved the Nicaraguan military's counterterrorism
capabilities.

8. Embassy Point of Contact for this Report is Deputy Political
Chief, Jesse Curtis +505-2252-7128 (CurtisJS@state.gov)
CALLAHAN

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