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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA885
2006-04-24 14:42:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

EX-MINISTER OF DEFENSE CRITICIZES PRESIDENT AND

Tags:   PGOV  PARM  KDEM  NU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0885/01 1141442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241442Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6052
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000885 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2016
TAGS: PGOV PARM KDEM NU
SUBJECT: EX-MINISTER OF DEFENSE CRITICIZES PRESIDENT AND
ARMY OVER MANPADS, CIV/MIL RELATIONS

REF: A. 05 MANAGUA 1771

B. 05 MANAGUA 1590

C. 04 MANAGUA 3305

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



1. SUMMARY: (C) Ambassador and poloff held a wide-ranging
discussion with Nicaraguan ex-Minister of Defense Jose Adan
Guerra on April 19. Guerra strongly criticized President
Bolanos' handling of the MANPADS issue, and commented that
the Nicaraguan Army leadership will resist MANPADS
destruction until the next administration to try to get a
"better deal" for the missiles. He claimed that Bolanos did
not support his efforts to assert civilian control over the
military and slammed the current Minister of Defense for
"cozying up" to the Army. Guerra also described his current
relationship to presidential candidate Eduardo Montealegre as
an unofficial advisor on security and foreign policy issues.
END SUMMARY.

BOLANOS FLUBBED HANDLING OF MANPADS DESTRUCTION
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2. (C) During an April 19 meeting with Ambassador and poloff,
former Minister of Defense Jose Adan Guerra described MANPADS
as his biggest "headache" during his time as Minister. He
said that the MANPADS issue was badly managed by President
Bolanos from the beginning, when the President publicly
pledged to President Bush that he would destroy Nicaragua's
stockpiles -- even though Guerra advised him to destroy the
MANPADS quietly. The FSLN, with surreptitious support from
Sandinista elements in the Army who wish to bargain the
MANPADS for expensive military hardware, subsequently turned
the MANPADS into a political issue and proclaimed the
missiles "emblems of sovereignty." Guerra claimed that the
Army was behind the National Assembly's passage of the small
arms law that took away the President's authority to destroy
the remaining missiles and transferred it to the National
Assembly (ref C).



3. (C) Guerra advised the Ambassador to try to make the
MANPADS a neutral issue by promoting the UN Resolution on
MANPADS (signed by Nicaragua) and by educating journalists
and others that MANPADS reduction is a worldwide policy, not
something aimed specifically at Nicaragua.

PRESIDENT DID NOT SUPPORT EFFORT TO ASSERT CIVILIAN CONTROL
OVER THE MILITARY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - -



4. (C) Guerra told us that he spent his time as Minister
working to modernize the Ministry of Defense and make the
armed forces accountable to civilian authorities -- a goal
that he said Bolanos never wholeheartedly supported. He
claimed to have an aide memoire from a meeting between
Bolanos and then-armed forces commander General Carrion in
which Carrion told Bolanos that he would die for the
President, but that Bolanos should not try to impose Ministry
authority over the Army and allow the generals direct access

to the President. This tacit agreement has ensured the
Army's continued political and financial autonomy during
Bolanos, tenure, Guerra asserted. As a "reward" for
Guerra,s efforts to promote civilian authority, the Army
constantly worked to undermine him with Bolanos, calling him
a "gringo sympathizer." Current Minister of Defense Avil
Ramirez has also criticized Guerra for being "too pro-gringo"
during his tenure and "buried" the Defense White Paper that
Guerra worked hard to publish in early 2005 (ref B).

GUERRA: EDUARDO SHOULD MAKE A DEAL WITH THE PLC TO PREVENT
FSLN VICTORY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - -



5. (C) Presidential candidate Eduardo Montealegre asked
Guerra to be his advisor on security and foreign policy
issues, which Guerra has agreed to do informally.
Montealegre should make security issues a theme of his
campaign, Guerra stated. In fact, in his view, the
Ambassador should push all of the candidates to declare their
position on MANPADS destruction.



6. (C) Regarding the elections, Guerra believes that
Montealegre should make a deal with the PLC and accept the
vice presidential nomination for himself and several deputy

nominations for his supporters. Guerra described PLC leader
Arnoldo Aleman as an "open wound" for Nicaragua that is very
difficult to heal. Despite their disgust with Aleman,s
corruption, Guerra claimed that many Liberals, including
close supporters of Montealegre, will vote for the PLC to
avoid an FSLN victory.

COMMENT: CURRENT MINISTER HAS DIFFERENT PRIORITIES
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



7. (C) President Bolanos appointed the current Minister of
Defense Avil Ramirez to his post in June 2005, after Guerra's
resignation and shortly before the apex of the political
crisis between the Bolanos administration and the PLC-FSLN
pact, which threatened to cut Bolanos' presidency short.
Bolanos and Ramirez' top priority during and after the crisis
has been to cultivate good relations with the armed forces at
the expense of all else, including MANPADS destruction and
White Paper implementation. Emboffs, led by Ambassador,
continue to push for MANPADS destruction at all levels. We
have received encouraging statements, but no substantive
action. Ramirez stated publicly on April 19 that the next
tranche of 651 MANPADS would be destroyed before Nicaragua
hosts the Defense Ministerial conference in October, but his
words have yet to be confirmed by a positive vote in the
hostile National Assembly. He also commented that the
remaining 400 will not be destroyed because they are needed
for Nicaragua's defense, a statement that runs counter to his
assurances in private that the MANPADS are not needed for
Nicaragua's defense and should be destroyed.
TRIVELLI