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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA1193
2006-06-05 16:35:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

NICARAGUAN ELECTIONS: LIBERAL CHONTALENOS FEAR

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  SOCI  NU 
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VZCZCXYZ0039
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1193/01 1561635
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051635Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6470
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0693
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001193 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2016
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN ELECTIONS: LIBERAL CHONTALENOS FEAR
DIVISION IN RANKS

REF: MANAGUA 0813

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reasons 1.4 (b and d)



1. (SBU) Summary: Despite the May 31 deadline to register
party candidates for the November national elections and the
fact that both major Liberal groups determined to run
separately, we found most Liberals in Chontales still hoping
for a united front to challenge the FSLN in November.
Supporters of dissident Sandinista Herty Lewites claimed that
Lewites, alliance is just as "democratic" as the PLC or ALN.
All parties are suspicious of the pact-controlled Supreme
Electoral Council (CSE) and its local affiliates, and the
departmental Etica y Transparencia (ET) representative warned
of irregularities with the official voters list (padron) and
problems with the distribution of voter ID cards (cedulas).
End Summary.



2. (SBU) Ambassador and emboffs traveled to the central
Nicaraguan department of Chontales on May 31 to meet with
local business and political leaders and discuss the upcoming
national elections. We saw representatives of the Nicaraguan
Liberal Alliance (ALN), the Sandinista Renovation Movement
(MRS), the Chontales Ranchers' Association, the mayors of
different municipalities in Chontales (PLC and Conservative),
and the local ET director. Ambassador also took the
opportunity to address the local "Book in a Box" English
training program participants, interview with a Juigalpa
radio station, and meet a group of Peace Corps volunteers.

ALN OFFICIAL: ALEMAN IS DRIVING THE PLC TO RUIN
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3. (C) Like many of the ALN,s regional officials, ALN
Chontales Director Elman Urbina was formerly the departmental
director for the PLC. Urbina explained that the PLC's lack
of internal democracy ) epitomized by Aleman's "dedazo"
selection of President Bolanos ) set the party on an
inexorable downward slide. He claimed that the division of
the democratic forces brought about by Aleman,s
mismanagement of the party cost the PLC Juigalpa (the capital
of Chontales and a largely Liberal city) and other
municipalities in the department in the 2004 municipal
elections. Urbina described Jose Rizo and Jose Antonio
Alvarado,s PLC caravan, which came though Chontales about
two weeks ago, as a "failure," noting that most of the cars
were from Managua, not local.



4. (C) Urbina stated that ALN presidential candidate Eduardo
Montealegre enjoys considerable support in Chontales, though
the ALN is "weaker in rural areas." According to Urbina,
over 4,000 Chontalenos voted in the ALN primaries to select
departmental deputy candidates. He claimed to have close,
productive relations with local ALN alliance partners
(notably the Conservative Party and Resistencia).



5. (C) Urbina complained that the ALN has been unfairly
excluded from the Departmental and Municipal Electoral
Councils (CEDs and CEMs), which are still dominated by the
FSLN and PLC, the traditional majority parties. The "second
chairs" of the voting boards, reserved for third parties,
were allotted to the MRS (Herty Lewites, alliance) despite
the ALN's relatively greater presence in Chontales. He noted
that the ALN is working with the MRS to try to prevent fraud,
but frankly described a situation that occurred during the
2004 municipal elections in which APRE won a close vote in
Cuapa, but the municipality was given to the PLC by the CED
during negotiations with the FSLN. (Comment: Urbina is a
reliable source since he was the PLC's departmental director
at the time. End Comment.)

MRS LEADERS: WE ARE DEMOCRATS TOO
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



6. (C) Ambassador also met with leaders of Herty Lewites'
alliance (MRS) Manuel Moran and Ricardo Zambrana. When asked
about Lewites' strength in Chontales, Moran claimed that the
MRS is organized in every municipality, though admitted
communication problems with rural communities due to bad
roads and lack of phone services. He stated that Chontalenos
are attracted to Lewites' "participatory government"
proposal, which promises to analyze and resolve the needs and
problems of the people and fight corruption of all types
(including the FSLN-PLC pact).



7. (C) Moran claimed that Lewites will claim some 20 percent

of the Sandinista vote from the FSLN. He asserted that many
FSLN officials in Chontales secretly support Lewites, but are
afraid to switch sides publicly because of FSLN intimidation.
Moran also noted that the FSLN is accusing Lewites'
supporters of being "pro-gringo CIA instigators." The
Supreme Electoral Council is "100 percent controlled by the
FSLN," Moran remarked, and is "preparing to commit fraud each
day." Hence, local and international observation for the
elections is essential.



8. (C) Moran and Zambrana expressed some consternation that
the USG and other actors have labeled the Liberals and
Conservatives the "democratic forces" in Nicaragua. Lewites'
alliance also supports democracy, they argued, and is
completely opposed to caudillo-style government and the
PLC-FSLN pact.

RANCHERS' ASSOCIATION BEMOANS LIBERAL DIVISIONS
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9. (C) The members of the Chontales Ranchers' Association
expressed their collective fear that the divided Liberal
forces could permit an FSLN victory. One rancher observed
that the Embassy's primary proposal was an "excellent idea"
to unify the democratic forces, but was torpedoed by PLC
leader Arnoldo Aleman, who did not want to surrender control
of the party. They commented that the FSLN and PLC will use
their influence over the CSE to commit fraud in the
elections, so a strong observation effort is necessary.
Notably, the two (visibly) younger members of the Association
seemed more enthusiastic about the opportunity to select new
political leaders and not quite so concerned about Liberal
divisions.

PLC MAYORS: EDUARDO IS A GOOD PERSON, BUT ONLY PLC CAN WIN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



10. (C) The Ambassador's lunch with the mayors of Chontales
was dominated by outspoken PLC representatives. The FSLN
vice-mayor of Juigalpa confirmed his attendance, but did not
appear. The PLC mayors echoed the positions of their
counterparts in other departments: Montealegre is a good
candidate, but only the PLC has the party structure to win
elections; the polls are not reliable because they are
manipulated by Montealegre,s allies; and Lewites, candidacy
is a Trojan Horse ) he will withdraw before the elections.
The mayors were not strong defenders of Aleman, but did back
the party and supported the candidacy of Jose Rizo. Marina
del Carmen Lorio, the outspoken PLC mayor of La Libertad,
criticized Montealegre as an "elitist" and claimed that only
45 people in La Libertad voted in the ALN primaries. Turning
to Conservative mayor of San Pedro Jose Ignacio Gonzalez,
Lorio commented that even though he defeated the PLC
candidate in the municipal elections, his constituents would
vote for the PLC in the national elections. Gonzalez did not
contradict her.



11. (C) The Director of the Liberal Association of Patriotic
Mayors (ASALPAT), Novis Rosales, also attended the lunch.
Rosales claimed that FSLN mayors and other officials are
receiving advice from over 160 &electoral experts8 from
Venezuela as well as paying bribes to rural voters to &clean
the image8 of Daniel Ortega before the elections. Before
the lunch, Rosales confided to poloff that four PLC mayors
ignored the ASALPAT prohibition to cooperate with the
Sandinistas in the Venezuelan program to provide discounted
oil and urea directly to participating municipalities. He
warned that the Venezuelans are planning to set up
&Community Development Councils8 in the municipalities,
which would presumably promote Bolivarian values and support
the FSLN politically. Rosales shared a copy of an ASALPAT
statement condemning the FSLN deal with Venezuela as illegal
and an example of Venezuelan interference in Nicaraguan
politics. He identified the renegade Liberals as the mayors
of Rivas (Rene Martinez), El Crucero (Carlos Antonio
Hernandez Garcia), San Rafael del Sur (Santiago Jose Ruiz
Molina), and La Trinidad (Luis Jarquin Laguna).

LOCAL ETICA REP WARNS OF PADRON IRREGULARITIES AND CEDULA
PROBLEMS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - -



12. (C) The Ambassador later met with the local Director of
Etica y Transparencia (ET), Melba Rosa Suarez, to discuss
ET's efforts to review the local voters' list (padron) and

distribution of national/voter ID cards (cedulas). Suarez
commented that the local padron suffers from the same
deficiencies at the local level as at the national level )
it contains a high percentage of deceased citizens and omits
significant numbers of eligible voters. On the issue of
cedulas, Suarez claimed that the CSE and CED are not serious
about producing and distributing the cards. She commented
that she has encountered several would-be voters who have
waited years to receive a cedula and then sent on a wild
goose chase by CSE officials trying to locate their cedula.
The CED in Juigalpa has 1,800 unclaimed cedulas, she
remarked. Suarez did allow, however, that the opening of the
CEMs in June will presumably make cedulas much more
accessible to the rural population.



13. (C) Regarding the elections in general, Suarez commented
that the campaign in Chontales has not "heated up" yet. In
her opinion, however, the people are tired of the traditional
parties and ready to consider alternatives.

COMMENT: WHAT NOW?
- - - - - - - - - -



14. (C) The separate registration of party alliances and
candidates in March (septel) for the ALN and PLC has thwarted
the hopes of provincial Liberals for unity. Despite the PLC
leaders' shrill assertions that only the PLC has the
"structure" to defeat the FSLN, they also fear that the party
will fare poorly in competition with the ALN. If young
anti-pact Liberals and independents like the two cattlemen in
the Ranchers' Association turn out to vote in large numbers,
Nicaragua could witness a true political reformation.
TRIVELLI