wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA2608
2006-11-30 22:58:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

A/S SHANNON'S MEETING WITH NICARAGUAN

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINR  ECON  EAID  KDEM  NU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3269
PP RUEHLMC RUEHROV
DE RUEHMU #2608/01 3342258
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 302258Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8317
INFO RUEHMU/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0063
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 002608 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR ECON EAID KDEM NU
SUBJECT: A/S SHANNON'S MEETING WITH NICARAGUAN
PRESIDENT-ELECT DANIEL ORTEGA

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



1. (C) Summary: In his cordial yet measured meeting with WHA
Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, Nicaraguan
President-elect Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National
Liberation Front (FSLN) stated his desire for "productive
relations" with the USG. Ortega discussed his plans to fight
poverty and identified narcotrafficking, terrorism, and trade
as items of "mutual concern." The FSLN will "work" with
CAFTA while exploring trade relations with the European
Union, Mercosur, and Venezuela and focusing on regional
unity. Ortega plans to maintain relations with Taiwan while
"opening communications" with China. Responding to A/S
Shannon's comments on the need to strengthen democracy to
alleviate poverty, Ortega stated that the FSLN will continue
to promote parliamentary style government and will not block
reforms passed in 2005 that transfer powers from the
executive to the legislature. However, he would consider
delaying their implementation if needed to hold a
consultation process with the Nicaraguan people on deeper
reforms. End Summary.



2. (C) In general, the one-hour meeting -- which began and
concluded with press photo ops -- was cordial, with Ortega
emphasizing shared goals and his desire to avoid
confrontation and foster "direct understanding" and
cooperation with the United States. Before the meeting, FSLN
Foreign Relations officer Samuel Santos reminded poloff that
Ortega's spouse Rosario Murillo is his Chief of Staff and "in
charge" of the proceedings. FSLN deputy and National
Assembly vice president Rene Nunez joined the meeting at the
last minute. Santos commented that the FSLN will back Nunez
to be the next Assembly president in 2007.



3. (C) The meeting took place in the conference room of the
FSLN Secretariat. The room is painted with bright, gaudy
designs and astrological symbols (Murillo's preference).
Participants sat around a large glass conference table in
roomy lavender-colored wicker chairs that forced us to lounge
back or slouch forward. Santos and Murillo appeared eager
and anxious that the encounter occur flawlessly. They
arrived early to attend to every detail, and Ortega and Nunez
entered precisely at 11:00 a.m. (Comment: Notably, Ortega
and Murillo -- known for making people wait (a la Fidel
Castro), sometimes for hours -- respected A/S Shannon's tight
schedule and began the meeting on time. End Comment.)

FSLN Will Focus on Poverty, Confidence in the New Government
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



4. (C) According to Ortega, the alleviation of poverty is his
government's first priority. The Nicaraguan people demand
jobs and access to health and education. He credited past

governments with improving Nicaragua's macroeconomic
standing, but added that the vast majority of Nicaraguans
still live in poverty, which endangers democracy. Ortega
noted that the poverty of the masses has contributed to
emigration to Costa Rica and the United States. "Your wall
is not a solution," he stated.



5. (C) Ortega admitted that before the elections, the FSLN
was fighting to win the confidence of the public and the
international community. He claimed victory in this
struggle, noting that Nicaragua has not suffered from massive
capital flight or a cutoff of new investment.

Relations with the USG
- - - - - - - - - - - -



6. (C) Throughout the meeting, Ortega repeatedly stated his
desire to enjoy productive relations with the USG and
maintain "frank and direct" communication. He specifically
mentioned the mutual interests of combating narcotrafficking,
securing borders (related to narcotrafficking), and fighting
against terrorism, as well as promoting regional integration
as points of mutual concern.

CAFTA, Regional Integration, and Trade Agreements
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



7. (C) Ortega pledged to continue to "work" with the U.S. on
CAFTA, highlighting the fact that FSLN National Assembly
deputies took the lead on approving implementing legislation.
He acknowledged that CAFTA is a key element of Central
American integration, which will be a priority for his
administration. Ortega said that he and the FSLN had worried
about "economic asymmetries" between the U.S. and Nicaragua
during the negotiation of CAFTA. However, he said the FSLN
eventually supported CAFTA because of its importance to
Nicaragua's private sector. Ortega explained that after
completing regional integration with Nicaragua's Central
American neighbors, he would pursue Central American unity
with the Caribbean, and then the Americas as a whole. Ortega
commented that the unity of the Americas depends on the "will
of powerful countries, such as the United States." In
addition to CAFTA, the FSLN will seek trade agreements with
Venezuela (ALBA), Mercosur, and the European Union.

Relations with China, Taiwan, and Colombia
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



8. (C) Ortega asserted that the FSLN government will not
suspend relations with Taiwan, as maintaining relations will
send a positive message of stability during the transition
period. Nevertheless, the FSLN has "opened communications"
with Mainland China. Shifting back to Latin America, Ortega
opined that the Colombian government and the FARC should
resolve Colombia's civil war through negotiations.

A/S Shannon: USG Open to a Constructive Dialogue
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



9. (C) A/S Shannon thanked Ortega for the meeting and hoped
it would contribute to a constructive dialogue between
Nicaragua and the U.S., especially regarding our shared
agenda: strengthening democracy, consolidating institutions,
and attacking social problems such as poverty and inequality.
A/S Shannon underscored the USG's commitment to work with
Nicaragua to confront these problems, expand its economy, and
use bilateral assistance programs and international financial
institutions to help Nicaragua's poorest and neediest.
Shannon said U.S. relations with Nicaragua would take place
within a framework of support for democracy and democratic
institutions. He noted that we were intent on identifying
points of agreement with the new government, but expected to
be able to speak in a frank and direct fashion regarding
points of disagreement. Ortega agreed.



10. (C) Referring to speeches given by President Bush and
Secretary Rice, Shannon said that the democracies of South
and Central America face a common challenge: showing that
their governments could deliver the benefits of democracy to
the poorest, neediest citizens in their countries. Saying
"democracy without social content will not succeed," the
Assistant Secretary noted that investment in people is key to
opening doors to economic opportunities. He also referred to
our focus on the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC), now
operating in two of Nicaragua's poorest departments, as an
example of how bilateral cooperation improves infrastructure
and increases market access for Nicaraguan exports.



11. (C) A/S Shannon commented that Central American and
hemispheric integration is a shared goal, citing CAFTA's
contribution to integration and economic development. The
U.S. is an integral part of the Americas, and we will work to
deepen our relationship with Latin America on all levels,
through government ties as well as civil society. This would
be especially true for Nicaragua, Shannon said, where we
would move closer to civil society and democratic political
actors. A/S Shannon encouraged Ortega to resolve
disagreements through dialogue.

FSLN Prefers "Parliamentary" Form of Government
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



12. (C) Responding to A/S Shannon's comments regarding
democratic development, Ortega observed that, despite the
fact that the FSLN wrote the 1987 constitution that accorded
strong powers to the executive branch, the FSLN now believes
that a "parliamentary system" offers a greater voice to the
people. "Strong presidents have not served Central America
well," he argued. For that reason, the FSLN voted for
constitutional reforms in 1995 and 2005 that effectively
redistributed power from the executive to the legislative
branch.



13. (C) Ortega commented that FSLN deputies will not vote to
continue the "Ley Marco" (Framework Law) which suspended the
2005 reforms until January 2007. However, he conceded that
his government would consider delaying the implementation of
these reforms for up to a year if such a postponement would
lead to a more "profound consultation" with the Nicaraguan
people. The FSLN will also seek to grant more powers to the
local (municipal) governments through citizen assemblies,
inviting the participation of women, youth, farmers,
producers, and other groups to provide input in the formation
of new legislation, and to reduce paternalism, Ortega
claimed. He stated that more participatory, parliamentary
government, emulating the Swiss model, will make the
legislative process more transparent and contribute to
economic development.

A Message From Chavez
- - - - - - - - - - -



14. (C) At the close of the meeting, Ortega asked to speak
with Shannon privately. Ortega said that he had spoken with
Chavez earlier in the day, and had told Chavez that he would
be meeting with the Assistant Secretary. According to
Ortega, Chavez said, "Please give my regards to Shannon, and
tell him that after Sunday's elections we can think about how
we can improve our relations." Ortega said, "He is sincere;
he means it." Shannon responded, "President Chavez knows
what he has to do to improve relations. He is the author of
the present confrontation. Tell President Chavez that we
look forward to hearing from him."

FSLN Participants
- - - - - - - - -

President-elect Daniel Ortega
Chief of Staff Rosario Murillo
Foreign Relations Officer Samuel Santos
Deputy Rene Nunez

USG Participants
- - - - - - - - -

A/S Thomas Shannon
Ambassador Paul Trivelli
DCM Peter Brennan
Political Counselor Victoria Alvarado
Political Officer Timothy Smith (note taker)

This cable was cleared by Assistant Secretary Shannon.
TRIVELLI