jeudi 24 février 2011

Wikileaks - Choosing Sides in Nicaragua

This March 2006 cable, written during the Bush administration, makes it entirely clear that the United States was working to try to prevent Daniel Ortega from returning to the president’s office in Nicaragua’s 2006 election by supporting the candidacy of a rival to Mr. Ortega, Eduardo Montealegre. The cable, signed by Paul A. Trivelli, then the ambassador, even discusses asking General Electric Finance International to pressure a prominent Nicaraguan businessman, Carlos Pellas, to support Mr. Montealegre. The cable does not make clear whether this idea ever turn into an actual effort by General Electric. In any case, Mr. Ortega won the election.

Vous retrouverez ci-dessous le câble diplomatique

DATE 2006-03-24 21:17:00
SOURCE Embassy Managua
S E C R E T MANAGUA 000674
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2016
Classified By: Ambassador Paul A. Trivelli. Reasons 1.4 (B,D).
1. (C) Summary: Eduardo Montealegre is reassured by the
latest IRI/Borge poll suggesting that he is the candidate
most able to beat Sandinista (FSLN) leader Daniel Ortega in
the November elections. Montealegre believes the next poll,
to be conducted following the Liberal Constitutional Party's
(PLC) April 2 convention, will provide a clearer indication
of his strength. Montealegre is close to jettisoning
stop-and-go negotiations with Jose Antonio Alvarado to join
his ticket as the vice presidential candidate and may opt
instead for a female running mate. To Montealegre, his most
daunting challenge is garnering private sector support, some
of which prefers to bet on a "safer" PLC candidate to beat
Ortega. He recently shared with Ambassador his willingness
to compete with likely PLC presidential candidate Jose Rizo
in multi-party primaries if PLC caudillo Arnoldo Aleman
abandons the PLC helm -- an unlikely scenario. We are
seeking to arrange April meetings for Montealegre with senior
USG officials and legislators, a speaking engagement with a
think-tank, and perhaps a press interview to provide him
higher visibility and possibly draw more support from the
private sector. End Summary.
The Next Poll Will Put Montealegre's Popularity to Test
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2. (C) In his March 21 meeting with Ambassador, Eduardo
Montealegre indicated he is reassured by the mid-March
IRI/Borge poll showing him as the candidate most able to beat
Sandinista (FSLN) leader Daniel Ortega in the November 5
national elections. However, he said the real test will come
in the next poll following the PLC's April 2 convention to
select its presidential candidate, which will measure his
relative strength vis-a-vis his PLC competitor. His PLC
detractors regularly retort that party organization, not the
polls, is the determinative electoral factor, and they have
recently pointed to the Atlantic Coast elections to bolster
their point. (Comment: The will of the people continues to
be a negligible consideration by Nicaragua's traditional
party leaders. End Comment.)
Dealing with Runaway Alvarado and other VP Deliberations
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3. (C) Montealegre lamented competitor and APRE
pre-candidate Jose Antonio Alvarado's continuing avoidance to
committing to an alliance, noting that Jose Rizo has also
offered Alvarado the VP slot and up to ten National Assembly
seats (in the IRI/Borge mid-March poll, 29 percent of the
respondents favored Alvarado as Montealegre's running mate).
In the increasingly likely event that Alvarado does not join
his alliance, Montealegre believes a female candidate would
serve as an effective running mate, although he would need
Conservative backer Mario Rapacciolli's approval to select a
candidate (male or female) from outside the Conservative
Party. (Note: APRE president Miguel Lopez Baldizon announced
March 21 that APRE will hold primaries to select its
presidential candidate on April 23. Alvarado and Francisco
Fiallos are the two contenders. Neither APRE candidate has
significant public support or realistically expects to be
president. The real issue is which Liberal branch APRE will
form an alliance with fo
r November. While Alvarado's camp favors a deal with the
PLC, Fiallos is inclined towards Montealegre's ALN-PC. End
4. (C) Montealegre explained that Rapacciolli is willing to
cede his VP ambitions if it means bringing aboard Alvarado,
but he may not agree to relinquish the slot to a female
candidate (according to the same poll, 67.7 percent of the
respondents believe Montealegre should pick a female running
mate). Montealegre opined that a female Liberal who is
neither from Managua nor from Nicaragua's elite class would
be ideal even though he favors former Minister of Tourism
Lucia Salazar, who, like most of the other obvious choices,
is from Managua and from an elite family. (Note: Salazar,
who was at one time also being considered as a running mate
for Herty Lewites, previously indicated she was not
interested due to family considerations. She may find a
Montealegre offer a little more appealing, however.) He
cited Cristiana Chamorro as another possibility, explaining
that financier Carlos Pellas' wife Vivian Pellas (she
garnered over 22 percent in the poll) is Cuban born, and
therefore ineligible to run (Chamorro received almost 10
percent support and Lucia Salazar just over 3 percent).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (C) Montealegre expressed his willingness to compete with
likely PLC presidential candidate Jose Rizo in an inter-party
primary if the terms are right. Montealegre suggested the
following process:
--PLC and ALN-PC primary voters would include members of
party affiliated national, departmental, and municipal boards
for a total of 34,000 - 40,000 participants.
--In addition for voting for the Liberal Alliance
presidential candidate, participants would vote for
departmental deputies.
--Voting would occur in the 17 departments plus Managua, with
each department having one voting center and Managua offering
one center per district.
--The vote would be held May 14.
--The Liberal Alliance would form a board of directors,
independent from Aleman; meetings would no longer be held in
Aleman's El Chile residence (Montealegre was adamant that
this condition must be met).
--An extension of the deadline to submit alliances to the
Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) would be in order (current
deadline is May 5).
6. (C) Remaining issues to resolve via negotiations would be
the selection of national and Parlacen deputies and the
guarantee that Aleman would recede from the political scene.
Montealegre was confident that if the primaries are clean and
not controlled by Aleman, he will win over Rizo or any other
PLC candidates.
7. (C) Comment: Ambassador met with CEPPS partners March 22
to discuss primary options and shared Montealegre's primary
concept with them. Local IRI Director Gilberto Valdez, the
CEPPS "primaries guru" and other CEPPS directors were
favorable to supporting the proposal. Valdez commented,
however, that IRI could also support primaries involving a
much larger universe of eligible voters, such as all party
"affiliates," a plan discussed earlier that would encompass
about 300,000-400,000 voters. Valdez noted that using
affiliates would be more democratic and likely bring more
voters into the Liberal camp. The likelihood of the PLC
agreeing to these terms is remote at this point; however,
pressure from the private sector and leaders of neighboring
countries could help.
In Search of Financial Backing and Name Recognition
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8. (C) Ambassador shared with Montealegre the gist of his
separate meetings with Salvadoran President Saca and
Nicaraguan financier Carlos Pellas. In essence, both Saca
and Pellas advocate a united Liberal ticket under the PLC's
banner and machinery, arguing that this approach is the only
safe way to beat Daniel Ortega. They propose that
Montealegre run as Rizo's VP, be guaranteed a number of
Assembly seats, and run as the party's presidential choice in
2011. Ambassador disputed this reasoning at the Saca and
Pella meetings, noting that support for a PLC candidate at
this point is tantamount to support for Aleman, and by
extension, the FSLN.
9. (C) Montealegre replied that he too has received this
offer from Pellas and Saca intermediary Calderon, and has
rejected it, explaining that he will not enter into any
alliance with the PLC so long as Aleman controls it, because
under these circumstances the PLC would lose the election.
Further, Montealegre argued that he clearly enjoys more
popular support than Rizo and offers a better chance to beat
Ortega. Montealegre offered that President Bolanos public
support for him and the president's continuing engagement
with his regional counterparts and the private sector could
help provide the momentum to shift Saca and Pellas' position.
Similarly U.S. pressure would be helpful, suggested
- - - -
10. (S) After assuring us he would not commit to a candidate
until there was a shake-out and unification on the democratic
front, Pellas now appears to have thrown his lot in with Rizo
and Aleman. He argues that Nicaragua cannot change overnight
and he clearly favors a lower risk scenario: the PLC
candidate, ideally Rizo, running against Ortega and Lewites.
Pellas believes the Montealegre route is riskier because it
would likely spell a four-way race, pitting Liberals against
Liberals and dividing their support, which could lead to an
Ortega victory. We suspect that these arguments are only
part of what drives Pellas, however. A Montealegre victory
would shake up the Ortega-Aleman pact and could change the
way Nicaraguans do business. The current system is
dysfunctional, but Nicaragua's private sector has learned to
navigate it, preferring a "malleable" judicial system to the
uncertainty that a Montealegre government, seeking to
establish international standards and the rule of law, could
11. (S) Putting pressure on Pellas via his U.S. business
partner GE Finance International and the persuasion of senior
USG officials could prompt Pellas to change his position.
Besides our standard points about why supporting Rizo would
mean a perpetuation of the pactist caudillo system and most
likely playing into Ortega's hands, we will emphasize to
Pellas and his GE business partners our serious concerns over
Aleman camp connections to criminal activities. We are
seeking to arrange, via IRI and the desk, April meetings for
Montealegre with senior USG officials and legislators, a
speaking engagement with a think-tank, and perhaps a press
interview to provide him higher visibility and possibly draw
more support from the private sector.
DE RUEHMU #0674/01 0832117
P 242117Z MAR 06

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