Peace on the Surface, Torment Underneath
In early January, five liberal ideologues wrote up plan 180, a strictly confidential strategy document titled "PLC Strategy 2000." It essentially lays out the steps that the new Alemán government must take in its first six months to assure that the Liberals remain in power at least until 2016. Substantial parts of the document were leaked to the Nicaraguan bulletin Bolsa de Noticias, and published in its March 14 issue. The document is genuine and it is revealing envío offers translated extracts from the leaked document below.
The Liberal Party is an historic party rooted in national history. Independence was the product of illustrious men who carried our libertarian ideas: Miguel Larreynaga, José Cecilio del Valle, the wise Gregorio Juárez from León, and other great men. The forging of the nation had in Central American patriots like Francisco Morazán, Justo Rufino Barrios and our own Máximo Jerez the courage to politically and militarily oppose the efforts of creole Conservative oligarchies to break the Central American Federation and sink us in obscurantism and localism.
The lack of vision of Castellón and Valle, leaders during the National War, allowed the Conservatives to displace and persecute Liberalism for 30 years.
The glorious Liberal Revolution occurred in 1893, led by José Santos Zelaya who defeated the Conservative Party of Granada and opened an era of political, judicial and economic modernity for Nicaragua. Sustained Liberal nationalism for 17 years awakened the suspicions of the United States, which, in alliance with the Conservatives, precipitated the displacement of General Zelaya and Liberalism.
After 19 years of obscurantism, corruption and stagnation by the successive Conservative governments, the Constitutionalist War erupted, which concluded with the rise to power of General José María Moncada.
In a new epoch in which the United States leaned toward stability, Liberalism retained power, residing in the military and negotiating abilities of General Anastasio Somoza García. Somoza's hard hand and his distrust of allowing power to alternate, transmitting it only to his own children and other relatives, eroded Liberalism, accused of corruption and of being a dynasty. In 1979, dissident Conservatives and Liberals, supported by capital and by Carter, joined Sandino-communism, who in few months destroyed the work of Liberalism throwing it into painful exile.
In the 1990 elections, the Nicaraguan people turned their back on Sandinismo, electing the UNO government. Liberalism united with the Resistance, much more than Conservatives, was the national pillar of this struggle and those who most influenced President Reagan to hit the Sandinista regime hard. Nonetheless, Liberalism was completely marginalized after April 1990, forced to frontally oppose the betrayal of the Chamorro-Lacayo-Ortega co-government. From the mayor's office in Managua, Arnoldo Alemán initiated the genuine reconstruction and rise of Liberalism, the focal point of which was the PLC [Alemán's Constitutionalist Liberal Party]. After 17 years of humiliation, exile, confiscations and political ostracism, we Liberals won power again in 1996.
We Liberals have ushered in a new epoch. The issue is not only to have won the elections in 1996. It is about the opening of an era in which we are bursting again on the national scene with great opportunities to affirm our hegemony for at least the next 20 years. This must be our horizon and our historic target. The government presided over by Dr. Alemán must be the instrument to firmly initiate the removal of the obstacles that today oppose this proposition. The current order of things is not so favorable to the Liberals and we must decidedly change it knowing how to evade paying the consequences.
The Liberal Alliance is fragile. Our first longing must be Liberal reunification under a single banner taking the PLC as the center. The rebirth of the great Liberal Party is the first task. This unification will be realized sooner and more effectively if, attending to pragmatic reasons, the Liberal family comes together as in 1855, 1893 and 1936, around an authentic caudillo of quality, which in this case is Dr. Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo.
Liberal reunification must be complete or not be at all. From 1979 to date, an essential part of Liberalism has been attacked and accused of larceny, Somocismo, tortures and genocide. It is the Liberal duty to welcome them, defend them and legitimize them against the Sandinista and conservative pretension, beginning with the family members of the last three Somoza presidents and those who collaborated with their Liberal works, from the army or the government. Their economic means, friends and influence would be of great assistance.
The country's political picture has been distorted. The historic parallels must be reestablished. We cannot accept the Frente Sandinista usurping the place that corresponds to the Conservative Party. Liberalism has governed the country with the concurrence of the Conservatives in various epochs. Politically liquidating Sandinismo from the country's stage in an integral fashion is the task of this government. Liberalism cannot alternate with Sandinismo as the opposition or permit it to exist over the long term.
In 1979, the economic power of the members of the Liberal family, consisting of thousands of agricultural, industrial, commercial and financial businesses, was confiscated and later split up among the Sandinistas. This undermining of our economic influence in society, the product of centuries of industrious work, continued during the Chamorro government, in both cases as a historic vendetta aimed at weakening the resurgence of Liberalism. The "privatization" practiced by the Chamorro government was deliberately done to favor its Conservative friends and clans, to end our hope of recovering our goods, and while the majority of us were outside the country. The recovery of goods is indispensable to have an economic base for our political plans. Without this base we cannot get very far.
The current composition of the government, even though it reflects our pre-electoral agreements, weakens the Liberal unification and the cohesion required to really govern. The only sure thing that Liberalism has is the Executive, where the economic resources and other legal and social means are found that we need to consolidate ourselves. The agreements and alliances have to be transferred to the National Congress and the other branches, canceling them in the Executive as quickly as possible.
The Liberal government does not have control over essential apparatuses of power: the Army and the Police. Nor does it have its own media. The Supreme Court is balancing itself with a correlation left by the previous governments. There is a core of opposition in the Comptroller General's office and problems for the President in the person of the Comptroller himself.
All these problems must be dealt with in the first six months, when the government is internally and externally strong. In this period the reactions are weak and with little support. The important thing is to act decisively. For that it is indispensable that the measures that are proposed be carefully implemented by an interdisciplinary team centralized in the presidency that has skilled personnel in legal and political aspects.
The executive branch must be cleansed of functionaries and employees that do not respond to our guidelines. Do not commit the error of the Chamorro government, which coexisted with its adversaries.
Quality Liberals who enjoy the full confidence of the President will be designated in the executive posts of the Banks, Treasury, Income Department, INF [National Investment Fund], Customs, Transport and Airports, and where economic means can be mobilized.
Measures must be designed to have control and influence over all the media. The best journalists should be employed by the President himself in the state entities. Control state publicity, which is 36% of all national publicity. Weaken the opposition media and reward those that align themselves.
The call to dialogue must be based on Liberalism and on the President in person and must be directed only to the FSLN, with the understanding that we represent the other forces and that a third way must not be strengthened. This dialogue is the opportunity to unmask the FSLN's lack of democratic vocation and to project it as -piñatero-. Upon the failure of the dialogue, the closest Conservative Party (Calero) will be called as interlocutor.
The property issue has three objectives: clean up the Liberal period demonstrating that the two previous governments were more corrupt; pressure for the return of properties that really interest us, leaving those turned over to smallholders in the first phase; make a hard-hitting move on the economic base in Sandinista hands.
The most important objective is to effectively recover properties. The claimants of the best and largest are the family members of the Somoza Presidents. To see to it that these properties are returned to them, we must project that the Sandinista leaders stole them and that they are not a social reform. Data must be sought to attack the nine Comandantes, electing the main ones responsible for the confiscatory measures. Do not attack the agrarian reform frontally. Highlight the mansions, the Sandinista potentates, etc., everything that hits at public opinion. Begin on the weakest side until they are isolated. In a second plan "uncork" the corruption of CORNAP and Dayton Caldera and Antonio Lacayo and what can be gotten out of the Chamorro government. It would be interesting to make and publish a list of the companies that conservatives (the Chamorros, Calderas, Baltodanos, Lacayos, Cuadras) stole from the state.
In the broadest sense of property, advance in practice by giving play to the pressures of the claimants on the ground and in the courts all over the country. Coordinate with the judicial branch so that this coincides with cleaning out the judges in the civil courts. The members of the armed forces have to be given security for now that we will respect their houses. In the end everyone will have to pay for them.
Proceed to the privatization of the important businesses that are still managed by the state: the Nicaraguan Bank, which should again be a Liberal bank; TV Channel 6, which is the only one with national coverage and key for our electoral campaigns (do it in harmony with the old owners); the same with Radio Nicaragua, which is bankrupt. For now the PLC doesn't have its own media.
Push for the recovery of some big companies that have already been privatized and that are reclaimable by the Somoza-Urcuyo family or its successors. Others can be negotiated with investor friends of the Cuban American Foundation in exile, successful Nica friends in the United States, the Guatemala Group and others.
Procure the weakening and even rupture of the links between the FSLN and its bases of support. This first requires a social package: provide property titles to the poor, give out materials and credit, pardon or subsidize debts, support leaders. Second, the economic and financial oxygen that these groups receive from an array of nongovernmental organizations, the majority of them close to the FSLN, should be cut.
These first measures will bring domestic tension, most presumably with Sandinismo. Two scenarios are advisable. The first is to maintain monetary stability and fiscal controls by all means so as to dry up and cushion the pressure so that there is a field of stability in the country, appreciated by all, that will isolate the Sandinistas. Second: despite any tension, an energetic and positive action by the President and an image of acceptance, control and tranquility should be projected in the media. With peace on the surface we will be able to maintain the torment underneath.