La gran filtración

Cable en el que jueces sandinistas ponen en libertad a 'narcos' a cambio de dinero

Un despacho de 2006 relata cómo Daniel Ortega financió ilegalmente su regreso a la presidencia de Nicaragua

Date:2006-05-05 17:17:00
Source:Embassy Managua

DE RUEHMU #1003/01 1251717
P 051717Z MAY 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


(SBU) This is the second in a series of three cables
summarizing the crimes and abuses of power committed by
Nicaragua's corrupt party bosses and their associates. The
first cable focused on Daniel Ortega and his family, while
this one centers on the abuses of the Sandinistas more
broadly, both when they were in power during the 1980s and
subsequently. The third and final cable will focus on
Arnoldo Aleman and his family. As noted in reftel, post
intends to use the information from these "rap sheets" in
discussions with domestic and international interlocutors as
a means of reminding Nicaraguan voters and others of the true
character of Aleman, Ortega, and the Sandinistas. While the
summaries themselves are unclassified, some of the sources of
information are SBU. Post will distribute the summaries to
appropriate contacts, but not the sources. Post is sending
both the summaries and the sources to the Department and
other Washington agencies for similar uses.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Rampant FSLN Human Rights Abuses, including Torture,
Disappearances, and Murder
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (U) The FSLN regime declared a permanent "state of
emergency" and interned and tortured thousands of people at
prisons and camps scattered all over Nicaragua. The
Sandinista State Security Directorate operated a network of
special prisons where those held had no legal rights or
protections whatsoever. In the mid-1980s, the regime had
over 6500 political prisoners, the largest number in the
entire hemisphere.

3. (U) Many prisoners were held for up to two years without
ever being charged or facing a judge. The largest torture
camp for political prisoners was in what is now the free
trade zone near Managua's airport. The regime also ordered
numerous murders and disappearances, including the killings
of hundreds of Miskitos on the Atlantic coast and the
internment of thousands more in concentration camps in 1981
and 1982. These crimes against humanity were ordered by
Daniel Ortega, Humberto Ortega, Tomas Borge, Lenin Cerna, and
Omar Cabezas, among others.

4. (SBU) Sources: Sandinista declarations on the "state of
emergency" and their incarcerations of political prisoners
are a matter of public record; the CPDH human rights
organization also has tens of thousands of complaints of
1980s rights abuses and on the imprisonment of political
prisoners. This information was published in regular reports
by the CPDH throughout the 1980s and remains documented in
the organization's archives. The State Department's annual
Human Rights Reports also documented many of the worst
abuses. Many victims remain alive to this day and continue to
testify regarding the abuses they suffered.

FSLN Wrecks Economy and Sets it back 50 years
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (U) By the 1970s, Nicaragua had developed one of the most
advanced economies in Central America, with so many jobs
being created that workers from other Central American
countries came to Nicaragua seeking employment. Nicaragua
was known as the bread basket of the region. When the FSLN
came to power in 1979 and began confiscating property (over
170,000 total properties), driving out investors, and setting
up a state-run soviet-style economy, it destroyed all the
progress that had been made, setting the national economy
back at least fifty years. GDP per person declined an
average of 5.7 percent per year, exports declined 3 percent
per year, and the Sandinistas ran up Nicaragua's external
debt to over 10 billion dollars (more than seven times GDP).
For comparison's sake, external debt in 1979, when the
Sandinistas took power, was only 1.5 billion dollars (97
percent of GDP).

6. (U) Under the Sandinistas, the currency was constantly
devalued, hyperinflation reached 33,500 percent in 1988, and
production plummeted, forcing Nicaraguans to suffer shortages
and rationing of even the most basic goods. Although

progress has been made since 1990, the economy has still not
fully recovered from FSLN mismanagement. Because of the
FSLN, instead of other Central Americans coming to Nicaragua
to seek jobs, the country now faces a situation in which
hundreds of thousands of its people have had to leave their
country to seek jobs elsewhere.

7. (SBU) Sources: Detailed documentation on the decline of
the Nicaraguan economy is a matter of public record; all of
the information is available in the records of the Nicaraguan
Central Bank. Nicaraguans old enough to remember both the
pre-Sandinista and the Sandinista economies can also bear
witness to the economic devastation caused by the FSLN. Based
on analysis of records from numerous government ministries,
President Bolanos and his government estimated that the FSLN
regime set the Nicaraguan economy back at least 50 years.

Censorship and Harassment of the Media
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (U) The FSLN regime eliminated nearly all independent
media in Nicaragua, censored all sensitive information, and
constantly harassed La Prensa and the two main independent
radio stations that survived. Journalists were regularly
arrested and held without charge, La Prensa was shut down on
numerous occasions, and many journalists and editors were
forced into exile.

9. (U) On one occasion, Interior Minister Tomas Borge
summoned journalist Jose Castillo Osejo to his home and then
personally physically assaulted him. Castillo, currently a
National Assembly deputy, was one of the owners of the
independent Radio Corporacion, and had often used the station
to criticize the FSLN. At the same time, the regime
monitored phone calls, opened private mail, and used its
control of the media, and its famous literacy campaign, to
bombard the Nicaraguan people with communist propaganda.

10. (U) FSLN efforts to harass the media have continued even
since the party left power in 1990. In 2006 the Sandinista
caucus in the National Assembly rammed through the new Arce
Law, named for FSLN National Assembly member Bayardo Arce,
its chief advocate. The law significantly reduced the tax
exonerations that media outlets may obtain for imported
materials and equipment. These tax exonerations helped the
print and other media to keep prices low to enable wide
access to information. Media outlets reported that the law
resulted in significant bureaucratic delays that slowed the
importation of needed printing supplies and equipment.

11. (SBU) Sources: Any journalist who lived through this
period in Nicaragua or was forced into exile can testify to
the effect of FSLN media policies, as Jose Castillo Osejo has
done. Police records also document the arrest of journalists,
and La Prensa has reported widely on the constant harassment
it suffered. The State Department's annual Human Rights
Report and complaints filed with the CPDH human rights
organization also document FSLN abuses of the media.

Promotion of Terrorism and Efforts to Destabilize Neighboring
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12. (U) The FSLN regime was not content to run Nicaragua
into the ground, and sought to export its failed communist
revolution to all of Nicaragua's neighbors and countries as
far away as Argentina. The regime smuggled weapons to
leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and
elsewhere. At the same time, terrorists from all over the
world found a safe haven in Nicaragua, and many obtaind

13. (U) FSLN leaders, including Humberto Ortega, have
admitted publicly that leaders of the Argentine leftist
terrorist group "Los Montoneros" resided in Nicaragua and
engaged in military activities with the FSLN for an extended
period in 1979-1981. Humberto Ortega admitted that Fernando
Vaca Narvaja, the leader of the group, resided in his house
in Managua.

14. (SBU) Sources: Daniel Ortega has publicly admitted many
of his terrorist connections, including the fact that he has
received elections money from the government of Libya. Many
1980s terrorists still live in Nicaragua and have acquired

Nicaraguan citizenship (including at least one prominent
member of the Italian Red Brigades). Daniel Ortega publicly
associated with many of these individuals in Nicaragua
throughout the 1980s.

Harassment of the Roman Catholic Church and Civil Society
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

15. (U) The FSLN regularly harassed, arrested, and abused
the Catholic Church and civil society. In August 1982 the
FSLN set a trap for Monsignor Bismarck Carballo, who ran the
Church's independent Radio Corporation by luring him to the
home of a woman who claimed to be having domestic problems
and needed his help. FSLN thugs assaulted Caballo, stripped
him naked and then trotted him in front of the national media
waiting outside in a disgusting effort to discredit the
priest. In 1983 the FSLN even went so far as to harass Pope
John Paul II when he visited Nicaragua. The regime tried to
prevent people from coming to Managua to hear the Pope speak,
shut off the lights and sound during his public address, and
placed FSLN agitators at the front of the crowd to shout at
the Pope throughout his speech.

16. (SBU) Sources: The harassment and abuse of Monsignor
Carballo was filmed by the Sandinista media and broadcast
countrywide. The harassment of Pope John Paul II was also
filmed and videotapes showing the harassment are now widely
available. Among other locations, they are sold in stands at
Managua's airport.

Rampant Sandinista Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitic Violence
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

17. (U) The Nicaraguan Jewish community, which numbered 200
in the early 1970s, was reduced to approximately 50
individuals after the Sandinista takeover in July 1979. With
the support of the Palestine Liberation Organization, an
anti-Semitic campaign began in 1977 when Sandinistas defaced
Managua's synagogue with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slogans.
In 1978, the same synagogue was firebombed during Saturday
religious services. Younger members of the congregation were
forced to evacuate elderly Holocaust survivors while the
synagogue burned and the Sandinista bombers tried to force
them all to remain inside the burning building. Many of the
elderly Holocaust survivors had also lived through the
November 1938 "Night of Broken Glass" (Kristallnacht), during
which the Nazi regime orchestrated attacks on Jews,
Jewish-owned businesses, and Synagogues all across Germany
and Austria.

18. (U) After the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in
1979, Jews who had been residing temporarily outside
Nicaragua were not permitted to return. When 70-year-old
Abraham Gorn was identified as the president of the
Nicaraguan Jewish community, he was jailed for two weeks and
forced to sweep streets. His factory was expropriated, his
bank account seized and he was evicted from his home.
Numerous other members of the Jewish community suffered
similar forms of harassment. The July 15 and 17, 1982
editions of the government-controlled newspaper El Nuevo
Diario denounced Jews. The Sandinista regime labeled Jewish
houses of worship "Synagogues of Satan." The Sandinistas
converted Managua's synagogue (the same one they firebombed
in 1978) into an elite social club for the children of
high-ranking Sandinista officials.

19. (SBU) Sources: Testimony of leaders of the Jewish
community who experienced the Sandinista firebombing of the
Managua synagogue and other anti-Semitic FSLN acts, State
Department Human Rights Reports, 1986 Special State
Department Report: "Human Rights in Nicaragua under the
Sandinistas", 1986 State Department Publication: "In Their
Own Words: Testimony of Nicaraguan Exiles."

Rigging of Elections
- - - - - - - - - - -

20. (U) In 1984 the FSLN held rigged national elections in
which all other parties withdrew because of blatant
Sandinista efforts to manipulate and control the outcome.
Because of the FSLN's "state of emergency" no other party
was allowed to organize or campaign. Opposition parties were
censored and subjected to constant harassment, while the FSLN
subjected the Nicaraguan people to a constant barrage of

pro-Sandinista propaganda using all of the state-controlled
media. FSLN comandante Bayardo Arce, who oversaw the
fraudulent elections, admitted that they were only held in
the first place because of pressure from the United States.

21. (SBU) Sources: The content of the Sandinista "emergency
decrees" is a matter of public record and was widely reported
in the media even at the time. Specific abuses and efforts to
manipulate the outcome of the elections were reported by the
CPDH human rights organization and the State Department's
annual Human Rights Report for 1984.

Murder of Contras After they Disarm
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

22. (U) After the signing of the 1988-1989 peace accords and
the holding of free elections in 1990, the fighters of the
armed resistance ("Contras") to the FSLN regime disarmed as
the peace accords required. However, the FSLN leadership saw
this as an opportunity for revenge, and had its assassins
kill hundreds of Contras, including ordering the murder of
ex-Contra commander Enrique Bermudez in the parking lot of
the intercontinental hotel (today's Hotel Crowne Plaza) in

23. (SBU) Sources: Such killings are widely documented in
Nicaraguan police and court records. No one was ever brought
to justice in the crimes. Right down to the present day,
friends and family members of Bermudez continue to call for a
full investigation of his murder.

Banning of Independent Unions and Violations of Right to
Organize and Strike
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

24. (U) Although they proclaimed themselves to be the
champions of working people, the Sandinistas banned any form
of union organization or exercise of labor rights that they
could not control. Those who tried to organize independent
unions were regularly arrested and beaten, such as Carlos
Huembes who was severely beaten by FSLN thugs at the Managua
airport in February 1981, at the same time the FSLN
vandalized his residence. In September 1981, the FSLN banned
all strikes.

25. (SBU) Sources: Many of the FSLN's "emergency decrees"
specifically restricted the right of people to organize and
freely express their views, on labor matters or anything
else. The FSLN's banning of all strikes is thus a matter of
public record. Carlos Huembes has regularly and personally
testified as to the abuses he suffered, as have many other
independent labor leaders.

Sandinistas Look out for Themselves and the Wealthy, While
the Poor Suffer
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

26. (U) Throughout the 1980s Sandinista military
"recruiters" traveled throughout Nicaragua forcing boys and
girls as young as twelve years of age to join the Sandinista
military, often effectively kidnapping them from their
families and then sending them into combat with minimal
training. However, only the poor were the victims of such
FSLN press gangs, as the children of the Sandinista elite and
the wealthy were largely exempt.

27. (U) While Sandinista economic mismanagement and
draconian state controls wrecked the economy and forced most
Nicaraguans to live in abject poverty and survive on
extremely limited food rations, the Sandinista elite lived in
luxury, enjoying the fruits of the property, businesses and
other economic resources that they had seized when they took
power. Today, while Ortega and the rest of the Sandinista
elite reside in mansions and are chauffeured around in
Mercedes Benzes and other luxury vehicle, this same
Sandinista leadership promotes strikes that prevent the poor
from receiving medical care and from having access to public

28. (U) In October 2005 Sandinista members of the Managua
city council cut a deal with their PLC colleagues to build
two expensive monuments to their respective historical
"heroes" (Jose Santos Zelaya for the PLC and Rigoberto Lopez
Perez--the assassin who killed the first Somoza in 1956--for

the FSLN) at a total cost of 3 million cordobas (USD 175,000)
in taxpayer money from the city budget, more than the PLC and
FSLN councilors assigned to all city social programs combined.

29. (SBU) Sources: Any Nicaraguan old enough to remember the
1980s can testify about the FSLN "press gangs" that tore
minors away from their families and forced them to serve in
the Sandinista army. Thousands of young people fled Nicaragua
and went into exile to avoid such forced military service. To
see the current lifestyle of the FSLN elite, one need only
look at the homes they live in, the cars they drive, and the
opulence of their lifestyle and travels. It is also widely
known and reported in the media that Ortega and the FSLN
control all of the unions and the politically-motivated
strikes that often make life miserable for ordinary
Nicaraguans, preventing them from getting to work or
receiving medical care.

Involvement with Drug Traffickers and use of Drug Money for
Campaign Finance
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

30. (U) Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista have regularly
received money to finance FSLN electoral campaigns from
international drug traffickers, usually in return for
ordering Sandinista judges to allow traffickers caught by the
police and military to go free. Most of these schemes are
orchestrated by Lenin Cerna, the former Director of State
Security, and are supervised by Sandinista Supreme Court
judges such as Rafael Solis and Roger Camillo Arguello.
Non-drug traffickers, including corrupt associates of Arnoldo
Aleman such as Byron Jerez, have also paid bribes to the FSLN
judicial "campaign finance" machine in return for not guilty

31. (U) In one notorious case in 2005 widely reported in the
media, Supreme Court magistrate Arguello coordinated a
complicated scheme to make 609,000 dollars in drug money
seized from two Colombians "disappear" from a Supreme Court
account. There are credible reports that some of the money
went to fund upcoming FSLN electoral campaigns, while the
rest went to individual Sandinista judges, including Solis
and Arguello.

32. (U) In another one of many examples, prosecutors have
accused Rigoberto Gonzalez Garbach, a Sandinista candidate
for elected office in Puerto Cabezas in the March 2006
Atlantic Coast regional elections, of attempting to bribe a
judge with 108,500 dollars in return for freeing convicted
drug trafficker Marvin Funez. According to prosecutors, this
was not the first time that Rigoberto Gonzalez Garbach had
tried to bribe judges to free drug traffickers.

33. (U) In 1984 Daniel Ortega negotiated a deal with
Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar whereby Escobar received
refuge for several months in Nicaragua after he had ordered
the killing of the Colombian Minister of Justice. At the
same time, Escobar's drug trafficking operation received
Ortega's approval to land and load airplanes in Nicaragua as
they sought to ship cocaine to the United States. In return,
Ortega and the FSLN received large cash payments from
Escobar. Interior Minister Tomas Borge and his subordinates
went so far as to assist Escobar with the loading and
unloading of drugs onto his airplanes in Nicaragua. The Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) managed to place a hidden camera on
one of Escobar's airplanes and obtained film of Escobar and
Ministry of the Interior officials loading cocaine onto one
of Escobar's planes at Managua's international airport. CBS
news later broadcast the film and the entire story of
Escobar-Ortega-FSLN collaboration is related in detail in a
2005 book by Astrid Legarda Martinez: El Verdadero Pablo:
Sangre, Traicion y Muerte (Colombia, Ediciones Dipon).

34. (SBU) Sources: Everyone in Nicaragua knows that Ortega
and the FSLN control the judiciary, with at least 75 percent
of all judges being self-described Sandinista militants. The
specific cases described above have all been widely reported
by media all across the political spectrum. Although his name
does not often appear in the media, everyone in Nicaragua's
political circles knows that Lenin Cerna remains Daniel
Ortega's chief political "fixer." The Pablo Escobar footage
was filmed June 24, 1984. The media have widely reported on
the FSLN's use of the judiciary for campaign finance purposes
and credible confidential sources have confirmed the practice

on numerous occasions.

FSLN Condones and Supports Domestic and Sexual Violence
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

35. (U) In 1998 Zoilamerica Narvaez, the daughter of Rosario
Murillo and the step-daughter of Daniel Ortega, made
allegations that Ortega had raped and sexually abused her
over a period of many years. However, Ortega used his
immunity as a National Assembly deputy and his control of the
courts to ensure that the case never went to trial. Having
ensured he would never face trial, Ortega then actively
sabotaged all efforts by the Nicaraguan government to provide
justice to Narvaez and used his mother and Rosario Murillo in
a public relations campaign intended to bury the allegations.

36. (U) In September 2004, boxer Ricardo Mayorga allegedly
raped a young woman in a Managua hotel. Sensing an
opportunity to blackmail Mayorga, Ortega and the FSLN agreed
to protect the boxer in the courts if he would give the party
a large portion of his international boxing winnings and
"advertise" for Daniel in public. Mayorga agreed, and an
FSLN judge found him not guilty in December. Much of
Mayorga's winnings now reportedly go to Ortega, and when
Mayorga fought in Chicago in August 2005, he dedicated the
fight to Daniel, wore the FSLN colors, and flashed the number
of the FSLN slot on the electoral ballot ("casilla") to the
international media.

37. (U) Such misogynistic attitudes are common in the FSLN,
as is the tolerance of domestic and sexual violence. When
FSLN National Assembly deputies voted to lower the criminal
penalties for statutory rape in March 2006, FSLN deputy
Nathan Sevilla justified the vote by stating that sex with
minors was "normal" in rural Nicaragua and thus should not be
considered a serious crime.

38. (SBU) Sources: personal testimony of Zoilamerica, legal
documents filed by Zoilamerica in Nicaraguan institutions
(including the courts, the police and the office of the Human
Rights Ombudsman) and the IACHR, media records of Ortega's
"public relations" campaign using Rosario Murillo and his own
mother. Sources for the Mayorga case include media accounts
of Mayorga's arrest, trial, his public "pro-Daniel" comments
and his August 2005 fight, private testimony offered by
lawyers involved in the case, and the testimony of the rape
victim. Sevilla's comments were widely reported in the media.

FSLN Continues to Use Land and Property "Pinatas" for
Campaign Finance
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

39. (U) As has been widely reported in the Nicaraguan media,
in addition to using its control of the judiciary to campaign
finance from drug traffickers, the FSLN is still involved in
numerous land and property "pi$atas" that bring huge amounts
of money into party coffers. Although the FSLN uses a
variety of scams to rob both domestic and foreign property
owners and investors, the most common technique seems to be
to have FSLN lawyers bring spurious charges of violations of
oral labor "contracts" against property owners and companies.
FSLN judges then rule in favor of the lawyer making the
complaint, and issue huge judgments for damages against the
property owner, or simply seize the property in question and
hand it to the Sandinista lawyer for use or sale. The
resulting profits go straight to FSLN coffers. In other
cases seized properties have been spuriously "auctioned" to
the FSLN at no cost.

40. (U) Among those attacked by the FSLN money-making
machine in this manner have been international investors from
Spain and the United States, as well as government entities
such as the Nicaraguan Basic Foodstuffs Company (Enabas). In
some cases, such as that of the Spanish investors, the
properties in question have been worth over one and a half
million dollars. In another case involving Sandinista judges
in Catarina, the FSLN acquired buildings and property worth
700,000 dollars in the same manner.

41. (SBU) Sources: These cases have been widely reported in
all of the Nicaraguan media since they became public
knowledge in February 2006. The victims in the various cases
have all publicly testified regarding the FSLN legal
shenanigans to defraud them.

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