wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA869
2006-04-20 18:03:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

NICARAGUAN ELECTIONS REGIONAL REPORTING: NUEVA

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  SOCI  NU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0021
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0869/01 1101803
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201803Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6031
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0630
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000869 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2016
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN ELECTIONS REGIONAL REPORTING: NUEVA
SEGOVIA

REF: A. MANAGUA 0802


B. MANAGUA 0738

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



1. (C) Summary: Liberals of all stripes in the largely
Liberal Nicaraguan department of Nueva Segovia recently
expressed concern to Emboffs that the FSLN is gaining
support with poor voters by distributing agricultural goods
and helping followers obtain voting documents in advance of
the November national elections. Emboffs have heard from
contacts that such support may well have come from Venezuelan
"donations". Officials of the ALN-PC and APRE applauded
Ambassador's statements against caudillismo, while the PLC
members were cautiously critical. Everyone complained about
partisanship on the local Electoral Council (CED), although
the local CED president (a Liberal) insisted that all CED
activities are carried out according to regulations. End
Summary.



2. (U) The Cultural Affairs Officer (CAO) and Information
Resources Director (IRD) met with local political, economic,
and social leaders in Ocotal, Nueva Segovia, on April 6 and 7
to discuss upcoming national elections and other issues.
Nueva Segovia has 12 municipalities, four of them controlled
by the FSLN and eight by the PLC. The two largest cities of
Ocotal (32,000) and Jalapa (30,000) are FSLN territory, as
are the two small towns of Dipilto and San Fernando.

ALN MEMBERS VIEW PLC AS MAIN RIVAL
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



3. (SBU) Former mayor of El Jicaro and ex-Liberal
Constitutional Party (PLC) chairman for Nueva Segovia Luis
Sarantes organized almost 35 supporters of the Nicaraguan
Liberal Alliance (ALN) to meet with Emboffs, who were
expecting to meet with a more modest group. The reception by
teachers, businessmen, small farmers and housewives was
effusive. Approximately 90% of the ALN supporters previously
held positions, some senior, in the PLC. Regarding the
upcoming national elections, the ALN expressed concern about
cedulization (the process of obtaining a national/voter ID
card) and the partisan nature of the Supreme Electoral
Council (CSE), and discussed the financial and material
advantages of the Sandinista Front (FSLN).



4. (C) According to the ALN members, the FSLN is reaching out
to small farmers (campesinos) by offering fertilizer and crop
assistance, facilitating cedulization paperwork by filling
out applications, and campaigning with new vehicles.
(Comment: ALN members were quiet when asked if they were
doing the same for their supporters. End Comment.) They
complained that the CSE is tightly controlled by the FSLN and
the PLC, while smaller or newer parties like the ALN are not
represented. They insisted that international observers
should be vigilant with the CSE,s calendar (ref A), ensuring
that each deadline is met. One ALN member even insisted that

international observers should take over the CSE and handle
the elections.



5. (SBU) While enthusiastically supportive of Eduardo
Montealegre, ALN members claimed that election polls do not
reflect the true feelings of broader Nicaragua because
they're taken only in Managua -- the regional elections have
provided the most convincing survey to date, they said.
Participants asserted that survey results are distorted by
the PLC in radio campaigns that reach rural areas to falsely
imply that PLC candidates are in lead. According to the ALN
interlocutors, the ALN expects to draw its votes from the
PLC. They predicted that now that Rizo is the PLC
presidential candidate, local PLC loyalists, mainly farmers,
are very unlikely to switch to the ALN.



6. (SBU) According to ALN supporters, Sandinista dissident
Herty Lewites visited Nueva Segovia, but he was received by
no more than 50 people. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, Daniel
Ortega,s main rival in the FSLN, has also traveled to the
region, but has drawn no followers, while APRE presidential
pre-candidate Jose Antonio Alvarado held a small reception
of about 80 supporters from Ocotal.



7. (SBU) When asked how citizens from the department viewed
the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Government, the room came alive
with cries of "Bravo" and "Trivelli!" ALN party members feel
that the U.S. has an important and valid role to play as a
"protagonist" in the elections process, and applauded the

Ambassador for not equivocating in his message. One
supporter suggested loading Ortega and Aleman on a plane and
sending them to play poker with former Panamanian strongman
Manuel Noriega.

LOCAL CSE OFFICIAL CLAIMS CEDULIZATION NOT A PROBLEM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



8. (SBU) Embassy officials met with local Departmental
Electoral Council (CED) President Rommel Enrique Reyes at the
CED headquarters. Reyes is a flag-waving PLC member with six
years of experience as president, having overseen two
municipal elections and one national election. He is young
and was chosen for the office originally as a member of the
Resistance Party (PRN). His large office was sparsely
furnished, with modest accoutrements consisting of a filing
cabinet, a table, and a small desk with a telephone and
USAID-donated fax machine. A framed photograph of Reyes at
the U.S. Capitol Building, a photograph of his wife and
daughter at Disneyland, and a photograph of Anastasio Somoza
were displayed on the table.



9. (SBU) When queried if he thought the upcoming elections
would be free and fair, Reyes, a lawyer by training,
immediately recited Nicaraguan electoral law, expressing
utter faith in its clarity and ability to promote electoral
transparency. He compared Nicaraguan electoral law to El
Salvador,s, noting the similar structure to the laws of both
countries. "The difference is that the Left in El Salvador
is more democratic and rule-bound than the FSLN here," he
said. "The FSLN is not prepared to lose the election."



10. (SBU) The PLC and FSLN enjoy the most support in the
department, he claimed, with the FSLN controlling the cities
and the PLC gaining its support from the countryside. "We
are a Liberal Department," he emphasized. As for national
surveys, Reyes, view was similar to the ALN,s: the results
can be seen in the Atlantic Coast regional elections "the PLC
clearly has the mandate." Candidates campaigning in Ocotal
include all the PLC pre-candidates and Lewites, who appears
to have few supporters locally, Reyes noted.



11. (SBU) Reyes indicated that there is no problem with
cedulization, and claims to keep a firm hand on the
cedulization process, not allowing the FSLN to interfere.
Still, the CED office holds 4,300 cedulas, 1,800 of them
unclaimed since 1988. Reyes coordinates with the civil
registers at the mayors, offices so the CED can project how
many people in the Department will reach 16 years in and need
ceduals to to vote . Reyes was satisfied with a new
cedulization initiative that pairs a new employee in each
municipality with the CED to improve cedula issuance. (PLC
mayors criticize the new arrangement, citing inadequate
training and support by the CSE.) In May, Reyes added, the
Council will hire new staff for technical assistance, and is
already splitting these positions between PLC and FSLN
loyalists.



12. (C) Throughout the meeting, Reyes glanced down with the
slight, confounded smile of a person who realizes others may
doubt his sincerity. Nonetheless, he was forthcoming with
information, including the fact that he was present at the
meeting where CSE president Roberto Rivas decided to make it
"difficult" for Embassy officials to get accredited as
elections observers. (Comment: Ultimately, post's efforts
to elicit cooperation from the CSE succeeded and the CSE
accredited Emboffs. End Comment.) When asked how the
party feels about USG statements regarding Aleman, Reyes
indicated that "some of the party people say things against
intervention as a public line," but that on a personal level
"USG interventionism is expected."

PRIVATE SECTOR TIRED OF PACT, APPRECIATES USG EFFORTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



13. (SBU): Embassy staff met with four members of the Nueva
Segovia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The business
interests of those present, including board President Daysi
Reyes and board officers Isasio Beltran and Donald Roque, are
mainly family operations: bulk resale, supermarkets,
construction materials, and the production and mid-level
distribution of coffee.



14. (SBU) When asked about the freedom and fairness of the
upcoming elections, Roque criticized the PLC-FSLN pact.
The businessmen and women claimed that the government "is

good for collecting taxes but not much more." The local
producers are starting to feel squeezed between the taxes of
the central government and new taxes imposed by local mayors.
As a result, to avoid appearing too successful, the local
growers are avoiding making investments in their own
businesses. They also noted that in an electoral year,
everyone thinks twice about investing or purchasing on a
large scale. "The economy freezes," they said. The
businesses are able to survive because they are family
businesses. National surveys are not thought to reflect the
views of the wider Nicaraguan citizenry: "they never asked
us," said Reyes indignantly. They reported a positive
perception of the Embassy and approved of the USG message,
which was described as "very clear." Of the Ambassador they
reported: "He speaks the truth and does so out of interest"
for Nicaragua.

PLC OFFICIALS SATISFIED WITH RIZO
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



15. (SBU) A local group of elected PLC officials agreed to
meet with Emboffs, although several arrived late. The vice
mayor of Mozante and a councilman from Jicaro averred that
the potential for free and fair elections is evident in the
PLC "primary" (ref B). They were happy about the process for
selecting the candidate, noting "a good deal of consultation
within the lower ranks" before the vote. Although the Nueva
Segovia delegates primarily voted for Ramiro Sacasa, PLC
members were satisfied with the process despite Rizo,s
victory.



16. (U) When asked if this "success of the democratic
process" would carry over into November, the members
responded that "each party has its own fiscales (trained poll
watchers)" to ensure a fair vote. They note, however, the
problems of 2004 municipal elections, in which voters arrived
at their voting table (JRV) only to find their names not
listed in the official registry (padron). The PLC officials
expect the same problem this year, and have vehicles ready to
transport voters from one JRV to another.



17. (SBU) While CED President Reyes expressed satisfaction
with the cedulization agreement with the mayors, offices,
the PLC mayors are not too happy about the arrangement,
complaining that now the mayors are "stuck" with doing all
the paperwork and bringing it to the CED. "This is the
CSE,s job," claimed the councilman from Jicaro, one for
which the CSE has provided no training or supplies to carry
out the task. This process hasn't improved the overall
system of cedulization, nor is it impartial. The
"cedulizers" from FSLN alcaldias, for example, are assisting
FSLN voters to receive their cedulas, going to their houses
and helping deliver birth certificates and other pertinent
documents, "but they are not assisting non-FSLN supporters,"
claimed the officials.



18. (U) As for polling results, the PLC officials asserted
that surveys, especially those taken before the PLC primary,
do not accurately reflect the level of support for the party.
PLC members pointed to the regional elections as an
appropriate measuring stick for November.



19. (SBU) When asked for their views on the US Embassy,s
role in Nicaragua, the PLC officials carefully responded,
"The US has helped Nicaragua achieve democracy and through
its own history of democracy has a lot to teach." One mayor
acknowledged all of the assistance the USG had provided to
Nicaragua before commenting that the US is "too close" to
Nicaragua and "Nicaragua is inconvenienced by this influence
and proximity." The mayor of Jicaro, who arrived an hour and
forty minutes late, felt the US should "stay out of
politics," but assist with the development of the local
economy.

APRE APPLAUDS AMBASSADOR'S COMMENTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



20. (C) Seven local APRE directors met with Embassy
officials. Luis Emilio Bustamente, departmental president of
APRE, was the most vocal. All attending members were former
PLC and expressed frustration with the election of Rizo as
presidential candidate of the PLC, declaring "We split from
the PLC because they are corrupt. Rizo was one of those that
split from the PLC and then went back to them." They
reiterated many times that Rizo is the wrong man to be the
Liberal leader, and that APRE was born to fight the pact.




21. (SBU) All agreed that Herty Lewites has no significant
following in Nueva Segovia. They expressed concern that the
FSLN could win, based on the Sandinistas, performance in the
mayoral elections of 2004 (the FSLN increased its control
from fifty municipalities to over eighty municipalities).
The APRE officials view the pacto as strong, stating that it
plays to the FSLN,s political advantage, while the
Sandinista control of over 80 municipal budgets accords it an
economic edge.



22. (SBU) Regarding the USG, APRE representatives commented
"Trivelli is extraordinary," and "the Embassy hasn't done
enough, the Embassy can do more" to have an impact against
the PLC. They loved Ambassador's remarks about Ortega,
noting the reference to Ortega as a tiger who hadn't changed
his stripes: "the campesinos really responded to the
colloquial expression." Bustamente wanted the Embassy to do
more against the PLC and all present agreed, saying "the US
should revoke more visas." APRE noted that the PLC has not
won an election on its own, but only through alliances. They
felt that Alvarado, who hasn't visited the region since
October, would be better than Jose Rizo.

NUEVA SEGOVIA: DEMOGRAPHICS AND VOTING PROFILE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



23. (U) Total Population (2005 est.): 211,233
Total Urban Population: 95,041
Total Rural Population: 116,219

Votes Received by Party, 2004 Municipal Elections

PLC: 33,975
FSLN: 35,845
APRE: 1,602
PRN: 6,668
AC: 113
Others: 1,064
TRIVELLI