Cablegate: Panama Pledges Support On Nicaragua

Published: Thu 29 Sep 2005 11:07 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001976
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2015
Classified By: Ambassador William Eaton for reasons 1.4 (b)&(d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: On September 29, Panamanian President
Torrijos told WHA DAS Fisk and Ambassador Eaton that he
shares our concerns about developments in Nicaragua and
urged the U.S. to maintain a broad range of contacts and
channels with the entire spectrum of Nicaraguan political
parties and players. During a follow-on meeting, Foreign
Minister Lewis reaffirmed Panama's commitment to seek an
indictment of former Nicaraguan President Aleman in
Panamanian courts for corruption. He pressed the U.S. to
pursue similar legal action in the United States and
pledged full continued GOP cooperation with any U.S.
investigators or judicial process against the former
President. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) During a breakfast meeting September 29,
Panamanian President Torrijos expressed his
government's concerns about political developments
in Nicaragua and their possible destabilizing impact
on the region. He urged the United States to maintain
a broad range of contacts across the entire political
spectrum in Nicaragua. We cannot write off a generation
of young radicals, including the Sandinistas, who might
later potentially be national leaders and future partners
with the U.S., he said. The lack of such sustained
contacts in the past with some elements of his party, the
PRD, made it more difficult for him today to manage the
elements that the U.S. had shunned and, as a result, are
now nervous about his pro-US policies and philosophy.
Lewis, following the meeting with Torrijos, privately
acknowledged GOP frustration with its outreach efforts
to Daniel Ortega and the elements of the FSLN loyal to him.
The Foreign Minister, while echoing Torrijos's general
statement on the need to engage the FSLN and the need for
a genuinely democratic left in Nicaragua, conceded that
that would not emerge through Ortega.
3. (C) In a separate meeting, WHA DAS Dan Fisk and
Ambassador Eaton briefed Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis
on the Deputy Secretary's upcoming trip to the region
and urged Panama to press for an indictment of former
Nicaraguan President Aleman for money laundering in
Panama. Lewis committed to seek an indictment but
pointed out that, under the Panamanian Constitution,
the responsibility for issuing indictments rests with
the Attorney General, not the executive branch.
Nevertheless, he pledged to push hard but discreetly to
energize Attorney General action on the case. He pointed
out that similarly bold legal action in the United States
would send a powerful message to Aleman, his family and
also the Nicaraguan people. Lewis also reaffirmed GOP
interest in cooperating with U.S. law enforcement and
prosecutors in the Aleman case. He said that the GOP
remains willing to share information and evidence with
DOJ and U.S. attorneys. Lewis also clearly conveyed his
view that GOP is waiting for the U.S. to show more vigor
in pursuing a case against Aleman.
4. (C) Comment: Lewis Navarro may not have been aware
that a judge has agreed to hold a 23 November
preliminary hearing where the government's attorney will
present the government's case and the defense given a
chance to respond. At this point the judge decides
whether to proceed or dismiss the case. If the judge
decides to proceed, other hearings would follow. Embassy
is looking into the judge's past record, given corruption
problems with the Panamanian court system. Both Torrijos
and Lewis were very interested in Deputy Secretary
Zoellick's upcoming visit to the region and want to be
helpful in supporting democracy and stability in Nicaragua.
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