Cablegate: (U) Nicaragua Sofa: Foreign Ministry Proposes Text for 2010
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHRD RUEHRS
DE RUEHMU #0182/01 0300035
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 300024Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
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SUBJECT: (U) Nicaragua SOFA: Foreign Ministry Proposes Text For 2010
REF: 2009 REFERENCE 201; 2009 REFERENCE 100
1. (U) This is an ACTION REQUEST. Please see Para 5 for Action.
2. (U) On January 25 we met with a Government of Nicaragua (GON)
interagency team to discuss a renewal of the U.S.-Nicaragua Status
of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for 2010. The GON expressed a desire to
renew the SOFA (within two weeks if possible), and proposed some
modifications to the 2009 SOFA text for our consideration (see
attached documents). In reviewing its proposed changes for us, the
GON reiterated a desire to establish essentially an "evergreen"
SOFA text. The Ministry of Defense representative also requested
that the U.S. provide a more detailed lists of U.S. personnel
transiting Nicaragua as part of operational activities. We request
Washington guidance in responding to the GON proposed text. END
GON Seeks SOFA Renewal for 2010, and Beyond...
3. (U) At the Foreign Ministry's request, on January 25 we met
with a Government of Nicaragua (GON) interagency team comprised of
representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Defense
and the Nicaraguan Armed Forces (JAG), to discuss a renewal of the
U.S.-Nicaragua Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for 2010
operational year (defined as 01 Jan to 31 Dec). GON attendees
were: Dr. Cesar Vega, Counselor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MINREX); Dr. Juan Umana, Ministry of Defense; Denis Palma, DirGen
for Inter-institutional Cooperation, Ministry of Defense; Col. FNU
Molina, Nicaraguan Army JAG Office; Renee Morales, Director,
Americas Division, MINREX; Jane Mary Rivera, Americas Division,
MINREX. EMB Managua Attendees were: Pol-Mil Officer Jesse Curtis;
Senior Defense Official, COL Humberto Rodriguez; U.S. Military
Group Commander, LTC Michael Regan and Senior Political Specialist
Milena Lanzas (notetaker). The GON expressed a desire to renew the
SOFA (within two weeks if possible), and to this end, proposed some
modifications to the 2009 SOFA text for our consideration (see
attached documents). The major changes include (1) moving the
annual roster of operational activities from para 1 to an annex,
(2) adding language regarding use of passports to enter and leave
Nicaragua, (3) changing language related to inspection of items
brought in to Nicaragua for use in operational activities, and (4)
modification of the language related to importation of weapons. In
reviewing its proposed changes for us, the GON did reiterate a
desire to work towards a SOFA text that would require minimal
modification from year to year.
4. (U) In discussing the new language regarding passports (see
changes listed in para below), MinDef's Palma stated that, while
the SOFA text did not need to codify procedures, the GON would like
"better lists" of U.S. personnel who were entering Nicaragua as
part of these activities. He asked if the USG would provide,
particularly for ship visits, a complete list of U.S. personnel.
We explained that the U.S. would not be able to provide a crew
list, but would review our existing procedures and arrangements,
(NOTE: These were developed in advance of the CONTINUING PROMISE
2008 deployment of the USS KEARSARGE to Nicaragua END NOTE), to
determine whether further adjustments were possible. Referring to
the new language in para 1 on notification of changes to
activities, Palma also noted MINDEF's desire to define more clearly
the time frames within which notification of program changes should
occur. He was clear that this not hold up agreement on the text
itself, but seeks a "mutual understanding" on "adequate
notification." We asked the GON about changed language specific to
inspections, to which the GON responded that it sought to ensure
that paper documentation matched actual cargo and materiel and that
health and safety regulations were respected. They were clear that
this change would not/not impose any new import tax or duty.
5. (U) We have reviewed the suggested revisions and find them
generally acceptable and reasonable; however, we request that
Washington provide guidance on how to respond to the GON's proposal
for the 2010 SOFA renewal. Embassy Point of Contact for this issue
is Political-Military Affairs Officer, Jesse Curtis (OpenNet/NIPR:
CurtisJS@state.gov; SIPR: CurtisJS@state.sgov.gov; Tel:
GON Proposed Revised SOFA Text
6. (U) The GON's proposed changes to the SOFA text provided below
are keyed to the attached, annotated English marked-up version of
the SOFA. For reference, we have also attached the marked-up
Spanish original text provided by the GON and the 2010 Roster of
Operational Activities in English and Spanish. These documents
will also be forwarded to State's WHA/CEN for dissemination and
BEGIN List of changes in GON proposed SOFA text:
- Throughout text: Replace "2009" with "2010."
- Change DipNote Number, as appropriate.
- Line 4 - Delete list of operational activities that
begins in line 4, and replace with illustrative examples of the
types of activities to be undertaken during the year. "operational
activities jointly agreed between Nicaragua and the United States,
such as Exchanges, Medical Training Exercises, and visits for the
purpose of Humanitarian Assistance,..."
NOTE: The GON proposal is to include the roster of operational
activities as an Annex to the SOFA text. The GON also desires to
retain the current USMLGP-to-Nic Army channel to facilitate the
Constitutionally-required annual notification to the National
- Line 7 - Insert "coordinated" before
- Line 9 - Insert phrase "and which are delineated in the
attached Annex" after "2010 operational activities."
- At end of para, insert the sentence, "In the event that
changes are required for certain activities, or to personnel or
equipment related to these activities, notification of changes
should be made with adequate advance notification." The GON seeks
to further clarify the mechanism for making changes to planned
NOTE: The Ministry of Defense representative expressed a desire to
define more concretely the phrase, "adequate advance notification."
- Line 8 - after the phrase "enter and exit Nicaragua
with", insert the phrase "a passport, or in its absence, with..."
NOTE: The GON prefers that USG personnel covered under the SOFA
enter and depart Nicaragua using a passport. However, they
recognized the USG need for flexibility in this regard and retained
the "Mil ID and orders" provision. They did seek to clarify that
this option would not/not apply to non-uniformed military
- Last Line - replace "carry" with "bring in"
NOTE: GON sought to correct the meaning of the Spanish text,
replacing "portar" (to carry) with "introducir" (to introduce/bring
in). This reflects the GON's position that USG personnel should not
bear arms while in Nicaragua, but would be permitted to bring in
weapons, which would be securely stored during their stay in
country, thus permit on-alert units to comply with their
requirement that their arms be immediately available in the event
of emergency deployment to another location.
- Line 2 - Delete "inspection and" from text.
NOTE: GON asserts its right to inspect. Not for customs or duty
purposes, but for health, safety and quarantine purposes. Example
given was, right to inspect incoming medicines to verify that
formulary is correct, in accordance with submitted documentation
and in compliance with GON standards on medicines.
- Line 3 - Insert "in accordance with applicable
Nicaraguan legislation" after the phrase "exemption from taxation."
Para 4, Line 1;
Para 9, Line 5;
Para 12, Lines 3, 4 and 5
- Replace "shall" with "will"
NOTE: This reflects a change in the Spanish from "deber +
infinitive verb" to future tense. We believe this change to the
Spanish weakens the obligatory sense conveyed by the
- Last Line - At the end of the para, insert the phrase,
"with the understanding that all procedures and processes will
conform to applicable legislation of Nicaragua."
Change Date on DipNote, as appropriate
Add Annex, "Roster of 2010 Operational Activities"
NOTE: This Annex is attached in English and Spanish.
END List of changes in GON proposed SOFA text.