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08SANJOSE910 2008-11-21 18:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Jose
Cable title:  

GOCR FEARS INSTABILITY FROM NICARAGUAN MUNICIPAL

Tags:   PREL PHUM PINS PREF OAS CS NU CA VZ 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOCR will speak out in multilateral fora
about the fraudulent municipal elections in Nicaragua,
including in the November 20 OAS debate, but will not
confront its northern neighbor directly. The GOCR will urge
adherence to the principles of the Democratic Charter, but
will not specifically raise the issue of "electoral process"
to avoid fueling GON complaints of "international
interference." The GOCR is also concerned that lingering
political instability following the elections may fuel
Nicaraguan immigration and asylum requests to Costa Rica.
The MFA hopes that international assistance cut off in the
wake of the elections can be redirected to Costa Rica, should
the flow of Nicaraguans greatly increase. On another note,
echoing concerns in Ottawa, the Canadian Embassy urged us not
to ask for a simple recount of "fraudulent" ballots. END
SUMMARY.



2. (C) Following discussions with MFA Chief of Staff Antonio
Alarcon on November 10, DCM had a follow-up conversation with
Alarcon on November 18 to again convey points in reftel.
Alarcon indicated that he and VFM Edgar Ugalde (a former
Costa Rican Ambassador to Nicaragua) had been in close
consultation with FM Stagno in NY regarding the Nicaragua
situation, and that they shared our concerns. While noting
that they had to be particularly careful in their approach
and pronouncements on Nicaragua, "due to the complicated
relations between our countries," Alarcon indicated that the
GOCR looked forward to working in concert with the U.S. and
the other democratically-minded countries in the OAS in
defense of the Democratic Charter and Secretary General
Insulza in this debate.



3. (SBU) DCM also met with counterparts from other donor
countries (EU, UK, Canada, Germany, Holland, France, Japan
and the Vatican) assigned to San Jose to discuss and convey
key points regarding the Nicaraguan elections. Almost all
were in agreement with our positions, and indicated that they
would urge their governments to stand firm and united against
the electoral fraud taking place in Nicaragua. On November
19, Canadian DCM Stuart Hughes, who covers Nicaragua from San
Jose and had been there recently, contacted PolCouns with
concerns that reftel demarche would be (unintentionally)
counterproductive and was already a little out of date.
Ottawa wanted all concerned parties to
back the opposition's demand that the voting actas be
re-examined and compared to electoral court figures. If all
we pressed for was a "transparent recount," the Ortega regime
would easily produce its own numbers and not the real
results, given that it already had plenty of time to doctor
ballots. This would be a "recipe for disaster." On November
20, Hughes said that Ottawa had been in touch the day before
with the Department to express the same concerns.



4. (SBU) On November 20, we attended with Hughes an already
planned MFA debriefing for the U.S. and Canada on Chinese
President Hu's recent visit (septel). Together, per reftel,
we took the opportunity to find out what action the GOCR had
planned regarding Nicaraguan elections, given its public
silence on the issue thus far. Our session became a defacto
joint demarche.



5. (C) MFA Deputy Director of Foreign Policy Alex Solano also
told us that the GOCR planned to speak at the November 20 OAS
debate in support of SYG Insulza and would urge adherence to
the Democratic Charter, but that it would not specifically
raise the issue of "electoral process" to avoid playing
directly into Nicaragua's agenda. The GOCR would push the
theme of democratic institutions. Solano said that the GOCR
representative had personally received instructions from
FonMin Stagno (currently in the UN with President Arias)
before flying to Washington for the debate.


6. (C) Solano doubted progress could be made at the OAS; he
expected the ALBA countries to (obviously) block needed
consensus. He was unsure which way Honduras would lean,
calling Honduran policies "gelatinous." When asked whether
SICA could play a constructive role, he replied, "No, SICA is
fragmented as well, as is the Grupo del Rio."



7. (C) According to Solano, the MFA noted "alarming signals
of violence" in Nicaragua and feared renewed migratory flows
to Costa Rica, plus the possibility of its Embassy in Managua
being "overrun" with asylum seekers, including members of the
opposition. Costa Rica was not prepared for a new wave of
refugees, he stressed, and would ask the donor community in

that case to divert funds being pulled out of Nicaragua to
Costa Rica to deal with the situation.



8. (C) Hughes brought up the desires of the younger
generation and civil society groups for democracy in
Nicaragua, while the Sandinista regime obviously was longing
for the "romantic days" of its past. Solano responded that
the current political unrest could become a "detonator" for
another civil war in Nicaragua.



9. (C) As an aside, Solano told us that the MFA had heard
that even Venezuela had become concerned with Nicaragua's
lack of transparency in using donor funds and that the BRV
was about to ask for an accounting of its own educational and
health assistance to Nicaragua. The GON was almost
completely dependent on foreign aid Solano asserted; even the
visiting Chinese President's delegation told the MFA this
week that Nicaragua would probably be the last in the region
to switch allegiance from Taiwan to China, because it had
become so dependent on Taiwan that it could not survive any
break in assistance flows.



10. (C) COMMENT: Though Costa Rica is generally a strong
defender of Democracy and free and fair electoral processes,
the GOCR's own precarious relationship with its neighbor
coupled with its fear of repeating the immigration waves of
past seem to have Costa Rica in a defensive position rather
than a proactive one. While we saw the GOCR's response as
understandable but somewhat timid, we were pleased that the
GOCR indicated they were prepared to speak up with us and
Canada during the OAS debate on November 20. END COMMENT.
CIANCHETTE