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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI2, ORTEGA GETS NEITHER DINARS NOR PESOS FROM AL-QADHAFI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI2 2009-01-04 14:02 2011-02-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
Appears in these articles:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/libya-wikileaks/
VZCZCXRO9307
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0002/01 0041454
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 041454Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4289
INFO RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0001
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 0001
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0005
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0005
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0001
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4812
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000002 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  12/31/2018 
TAGS: PREL KTIA NU BO VZ LY
SUBJECT: ORTEGA GETS NEITHER DINARS NOR PESOS FROM AL-QADHAFI 
 
REF: A)  LA PAZ 2055, B) TRIPOLI 870, C) TRIPOLI O-I -  23-SEP-2008  CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, A/DCM. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 

1. (C) Summary: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega visited Tripoli December 19-22, ostensibly to promote south-south cooperation and compare notes on the "anti-imperialist" movement; however, senior contacts at the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (MFA-equivalent), told us the visit was largely symbolic and that Ortega devoted much of his visit trying to drum up cash for his political operation and investment in Nicaragua.  Like Bolivian President Evo Morales before him, Ortega left Libya empty-handed.  While Libya seeks to balance reengagement with the U.S. with high-profile meetings with anti-U.S. leaders, it seems to lack both the capacity and the interest to pursue more substantive interaction with Latin American governments.  End Summary.  

ORTEGA PASSES THE CUP, LEAVES EMPTY-HANDED  

2. (C) In a December 29 meeting, MFA Secretary for the Americas (A/S-equivalent) told A/DCM that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's four-day visit to Libya was "largely symbolic" and appeared to have been largely motivated by Ortega's need for financial assistance.  Fituri, who heads the Libya-Nicaragua Cooperation Committee, participated in almost all of Ortega's program, including his three meetings with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, a fellow "long-time revolutionary".  Ortega highlighted consultations on developments in Latin American integration, South-South (i.e. Latin American-African) cooperation and coordination in the "anti-imperialist movement" in his remarks to Spanish-language press upon his return to Managua.  According to Fituri, though, Ortega spent most of his time complaining about his tense domestic situation and seeking cash for his party, which Fituri described as "extremely cash strapped".  

3. (C) Ortega also met privately with al-Qadhafi's Chief of Staff,Bashir Saleh, Secretary of the General People's Committee (PM-equivalent) al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) Chairman Mustafa Layas and the  and the head of Libya's Great Manmade River Project.  Ortega focused in those meetings on drumming up investment in Nicaragua's project to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as various water treatment projects.  Fituri downplayed the possibility that Libya would invest in Nicaragua, noting that the LIA did not assess the proposals as either promising or profitable and recommended against investment.  Al-Qadhafi complained to that Ortega had come mostly to "cry on his shoulder" and hold out his hand for contributions, but his hopes of receiving a cash infusion apparently went unfulfilled. Fituri noted that "the days of the Jamahiriya handing out dollars - with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa - are over, even for brother revolutionaries".  

LIBYA SEEKS SYMBOLIC LINKS, BUT CAN'T AFFORD DEEPER COOPERATION  

4. (C) Ortega's visit marks the second visit to Tripoli by an ALBA president in 2008, in addition to a trip by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.  Bolivian President Evo Morales met with al-Qadhafi on the eve of al-Qadhafi's speech commemorating the coup that brought him to power on September 1.  Morales' trip inaugurated formal Libyan-Bolivian ties, but the meeting could have gone much differently.  Spanish CDA Rafael Reig told Poloff that he was instrumental in facilitating the event given Boliva's lack of representation here. (Note: Bolivia has yet to send diplomatic staff to take up residence in Tripoli.  End note.)  In the end, al-Qadhafi met with the ambassadors of Venezuela, Cuba, and Argentina along with Morales - leaving the Spanish envoy to wait in the hotel lobby.  Ortega's trip received even less attention in the diplomatic corps - none of the Spanish-speaking legations were convoked or informed of the visit.  

5. (C) Comment: While Libya is keen to pursue symbolic alliances with anti-U.S. leaders to balance the perception that it has gone western by finalizing the U.S.-Libya claims compensation agreement, Ortega's visit is illustrative of Libya's more pragmatic approach to relationships outside its sphere of influence.  Morales' trip occasioned a hastily-prepared draft treaty calling for a "South Atlantic Treaty Organization" (ref A), but as the price of oil falls and the price of diplomatic leadership becomes more dear, Libya will focus its petrodinars on al-Qadhafi's more immediate goal of a United States of Africa.  Libya's MFA boasts few English speakers and fewer Spanish speakers and Latin American diplomats here are not active, leaving few channels for substantive exchanges between Libya and Latin America.  Libya's interests include showing balance after their recent reopening with the West (ref B), but  TRIPOLI 00000002  002 OF 002   they are unlikely to accept great financial or political risk in non-neighboring relations without the promise of an even greater reward.  End comment. 
CRETZ