From Tue Jan 13 10:15:09 2004
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 14:42:56 -0600 (CST)
From: Nicaragua Network <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 171735
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

FSLN Shut Out of National Assembly Leadership

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 12 January 2004

The FSLN bench in the National Assembly walked out moments before a new directorate was elected that returned Aleman supporters to leadership roles and shut out the FSLN entirely. The election followed several days of meetings at the home of US Ambassador Barbara Moore to which the FSLN was not invited. Until the 2003 President of the National Assembly, Bolaqos' ally Independent Liberal Jaime Cuadra suffered a serious brain hemorrhage, conventional wisdom was that the 2003 Directorate would be re-elected.

Instead, Cuadra's illness gave the US ambassador the opening to assemble what she calls the country's democratic leaders and to pressure President Bolaqos to accept an strong ally of former president Arnoldo Aleman, Carlos Noguera, as the new National Assembly president. The final composition of the seven person directorate was three from Aleman's Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) including the presidency for Noguera; one—the only woman—Delia Arellano (noted for her Aleman sympathies), from the Christian Way Party; two from the Bolaqos' wing of Liberals, known as the Blue and White Bench, and one from the Conservative Party. Thus, the Alemanistas have a clear majority on the new directorate. Not only is the FSLN frozen out of the leadership, but Bolaqos will have an even more difficult time moving his legislative agenda which in the past he has done with the help of the FSLN against PLC opposition.

Last week the Nicaragua Network issued an urgent alert to call the State Department to protest the unethical interference in Nicaragua's sovereign internal affairs and the ongoing efforts by the US government to marginalize the FSLN before the 2006 presidential election. We urge you to continue to call Maeve Dwyer at the Nicaragua Desk at the State Department at (202) 647-3518 and express your disapproval of U.S. interference in Nicaragua's internal political affairs.

US Ambassador Barbara Moore denied that her embassy had played an inappropriate role during the election of the Directorate. They're exaggerating the role we played, she told reporters. They're portraying us as protagonists of a particular outcome to these elections. Far from it; our role was much more that of facilitator, moderator, and our participation was not the fruit of our own suggestion. Rather, we were invited by the government itself and by the various political party benches. My own role was, in truth, that of witness or of moderator, no more. She denied that her embassy had decided to take a direct role in Nicaragua's political life. Our plan was not to involve ourselves directly. Certainly, the various groupings met at my house, where I met with them as moderator, as facilitator. I took no part in the voting, nor directly in the discussions. As moderator, without voice or vote, my job was to facilitate, giving the floor to the various benches, in an effort to assist them in reaching a consensus on the make-up of the new Directorate before early Friday morning when the voting session was to begin. Moore characterized the new body as well-balanced. However, according to Maria Eugenia Sequeira of the PLC, Ambassador Moore put strong pressure on them to make sure that the democratic forces take control of the legislature. The FSLN, which created Nicaragua's first democracy, does not count among US approved democratic forces. Indeed a steady stream of US officials from Secretary of State Colin Powell on down have been traveling to Nicaragua in a concerted effort to distort the 2006 national elections to insure an outcome preferred by the US government. That is what makes this seemingly arcane National Assembly leadership election so important and why solidarity supporters must protest our government's interventions each and every time officials interfere with Nicaragua's right to self-determination.

Sandinista bench leader Edwin Castro caused a furor in the pre-vote Assembly when, on several occasions he called out, Thank you, Mr. President, in English. He was speaking to the president of the temporary commission charged with organizing and holding the election. When reprimanded, he retorted, Disgracefully, I find myself obliged to address you in the official language of the negotiations currently in train within this National Assembly. It gives me no pleasure so to do; I was born in Leon where we speak a good round Spanish. However, today's election has been brought about as a result of a shameful negotiation and intervention on the part of the USA. He alluded to U.S. Ambassador Moore's meetings with she called the forces of democracy at her home and in a Managua hotel, saying, The worst of it is, Mr. President, that all this was done with the compliance of the nation's chief executive. Our conduct as an independent nation is now seriously compromised here in this chamber, this election kills off any work that has been done to forward the struggle against corruption.

FSLN deputy General Secretary, Tomas Borge, distributed tiny US flags along with the invitation to the new directorate to use them instead of the Nicaraguan flag itself. The entire Sandinista representation of 38 voting members walked out of the chamber. In later comments, Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, FSLN primary candidate in the last elections (2001) said Nicaragua's governability was already fragile before this vote; this can only contribute to further fragility.

FSLN General Secretary Daniel Ortega related the accords to the infamous Espino Negro agreement of 1927 when Liberal and Conservative forces made a pact with the US military in Nicaragua at that time, a pact that led Augusto C. Sandino to undertake the guerrilla struggle. Ortega characterized the new leadership as being imposed under an agreement that will promote corruption and will make a mockery of the Nicaraguan people. For this reason, he concluded, the FSLN will not accept any post within the directorate, even those due us according to the principle of proportionality. Rather, we will firmly adhere to a position in accordance with the ethical political order, related to the fight against corruption.

One major concern is that Aleman will be released from house arrest due to the return of his partisans to control of the National Assembly. However, both President Bolaqos and Noguera emphasized that there could be no question of seeking a pardon for the ex-president. Noguera accused the FSLN of trying to confuse the Nicaraguan people by starting false rumors. Dr. Aleman is perfectly clear about this, he continued. He has his own strategy for the completion of the process in which he is currently involved. It is entirely related to the judiciary, an independent state power that has nothing to do with this current election. Last week, two of the three judges on the Appeals Court of Managua's District One handed down their verdict that the judgment against him should stand. It is expected that the third remaining judge will sign on to the same position early this week.