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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANAGUA1003 2006-05-05 17:05 2010-12-06 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 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 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

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.