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Viewing cable 09LIMA1561, HUMALA: HEDGING BETS IN RUN UP TO ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LIMA1561 2009-10-21 20:08 2011-02-20 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lima
Appears in these articles:
http://elcomercio.pe/
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1561/01 2942013
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 212013Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1387
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 0087
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 0047
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8600
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 4170
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1517
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 5325
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9840
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 0080
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 0075
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001561 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PTER SNAR PE
SUBJECT: HUMALA: HEDGING BETS IN RUN UP TO ELECTIONS 
 
REF: A. LIMA 637 
     B. 05 LIMA 4132 
     C. 05 LIMA 4854 
 
Classified...
id: 230714
date: 10/21/2009 20:13
refid: 09LIMA1561
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 05LIMA4132|05LIMA4854|09LIMA637
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1561/01 2942013
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 212013Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1387
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 0087
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 0047
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8600
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 4170
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1517
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 5325
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9840
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 0080
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 0075
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001561 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PTER SNAR PE
SUBJECT: HUMALA: HEDGING BETS IN RUN UP TO ELECTIONS 

REF: A. LIMA 637 
     B. 05 LIMA 4132 
     C. 05 LIMA 4854 

Classified By: Amb P. Michael McKinley for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 

1. (C) Summary: Opposition leader Ollanta Humala -- who 
nearly won the 2006 presidential elections on a populist 
platform -- heads a Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) pursuing 
an ambiguous dual-track political path.  According to 
insiders, the party continues to have "one foot inside and 
the other foot outside" of the formal political system, and 
several factions have been fighting over which path to choose 
in the run up to regional and national elections.  Humala's 
decision to create some level of association with radical 
groups has resulted in one recent high-level defection from 
the party so far.  Whatever his final tack, Humala is likely 
to be in the presidential mix in 2011 -- unless Peru's latent 
mass of disenchanted voters find someone they believe better 
suited to bear the anti-system flag.  End Summary. 

One Foot In, the Other Out 
-------------------------- 
2.  (C) Opposition leader Ollanta Humala -- who nearly won 
the 2006 presidential elections on a populist platform -- 
heads a Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) in search of its 
true identity.  The party has swung between opposing 
approaches since its inception, seeking to make itself 
broadly palatable by assuming moderate positions and 
eschewing open talk of radical measures while also 
maintaining its credentials as an anti-system group dedicated 
to profound "nationalist" reform (refs B and C.)  In a 
conversation with the Ambassador earlier this year, Humala 
suggested he was keeping his options open and quietly 
coordinating with radical groups (ref A).  Nadine Heredia, 
Humala's wife and advisor and a key PNP leader, told us more 
recently that the party continues to have "one foot inside 
and the other foot outside" of the formal political system, 
describing the party's vigorous work within Congress and its 
willingness, as necessary, to assume more radical positions 
to oppose what she characterized as Peru's corrupt and unjust 
social and political order. 

Infighting Over Approach 
------------------------ 
3.  (C) Several party factions have been fighting over which 
path to choose in the run up to the 2010 regional elections 
and the subsequent national elections in 2011.  Publicly, 
this dispute has centered over the PNP's reported effort to 
forge a broad left-of-center coalition, and include radical 
fringe groups such as Patria Roja, (MRTA front organization) 
Patria Libre and others in it.  Humala himself has made 
public statements indicating an interest in working with any 
group that "wants to change the country."  According to some 
reports, Humala has made a political decision to maintain (at 
a minimum) some level of association with radical groups, 
reportedly opening a "frente amplio" office in a Lima suburb 
and holding periodic meetings, even though he recently 
publicly denied any intention to form an electoral agreement 
with these groups.  Some PNP leaders, including Congressman 
Daniel Abugattas, have argued that bringing radical groups 
into the PNP tent gives them leverage they would otherwise 
lack, and undermines the party's authority and leadership. 
Abugattas' advisors told us recently that Humala had already 
been pressured into taking several controversial public 
positions as a result of this dynamic, which had damaged the 
party's image. 

4.  (C) Nadine Heredia told us the PNP talks to "everyone," 
and was open to alliances with other groups on the left.  She 
underscored that one important exception to this rule was 
Sendero Luminoso, which the PNP rejected and against whom her 
husband had fought as an Army officer at the height of the 
terrorist insurgency.  According to news and other reports, 
the return as a close advisor to the party of longtime 
leftist ideologue Carlos Tapia, who had reportedly distanced 
himself from Humala after the 2006 election loss, was one of 
the driving forces behind the PNP's move to forge alliances 
with all comers, including those on the radical fringe.  That 
a former staffer to PNP Congresswoman and cocalero leader 
Nancy Obregon's was recently caught transporting 140 kilos of 
cocaine suggests the party's radical associations extend to 
drug-trafficking (vice mere coca growing) interests as well. 

5.  (C) Another factor in Humala's dual strategy relates to 
electoral strategy.  According to party insiders, to avoid a 
collapse similar to that of the 2006 regional and municipal 
elections (in which the PNP fared poorly), Humala has chosen 
to field candidates in the 2010 regional elections that fly 
under a non-PNP banner as "regional fronts."   At the same 
time, the party plans to maintain a loose association with 
these fronts, hence the reaching out.  The reasoning behind 
this strategy, insiders say, is that the PNP will be able to 
claim victory if "its" candidates win, and thereby gain 
momentum in the approach to 2011, while avoiding too close an 
association with candidates who lose, which could hamper the 
PNP's national aspirations. 

High-Level Defection 
-------------------- 
6.  (C) Internal dissent over the PNP's approach has resulted 
in one recent high-level defection from the party so far, 
that of Congressman Isaac Mekler.  After publicly questioning 
what he called the party's dangerous association with radical 
actors, Mekler formally bolted from the party in early 
October, declaring himself a political independent. 
Following the break, Mekler accused Humala of having been 
induced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez into an 
association with such groups as the New Left (Nueva 
Izquierda), the Socialist Party, Patria Libre and other 
fringe groups.  Mekler's follows the earlier defections of 
other former Humala allies, most of whom left the PNP fold 
immediately after the 2006 elections.  Whether rooted in real 
ideological disagreements or simple personal interests, it 
could also presage more departures in the future.  For 
example, we have heard that indigenous leaders within the PNP 
have also grown restive and some, chafing under the party's 
autocratic leadership and claiming Humala has sought to use 
them politically while giving them little in return, are 
considering breaking ties with the party and throwing their 
support to alternative candidates. 

Humala in the Mix 
----------------- 
7.  (C) Internal tensions notwithstanding, Humala is likely 
to be in the presidential mix in 2011.  More than any other 
prominent political figure, he continues most fully to embody 
the "political opposition" for most Peruvians; and, while 
notoriously fickle, poll numbers consistently place him among 
the top 5 candidates for president in 2011.  In addition, the 
PNP is one of the few political parties with a national 
structure, and probably the only one (apart from theFujimoristas) with an active political network in Peru's 
impoverished rural communities -- a significant electoral 
advantage. 

Comment: Competing for Anti-System Vote 
--------------------------------------- 
8.  (C) Not alone in the anti-system wild, other candidates 
are likely to compete with Humala over Peru's overlapping 
nationalist, leftist, opposition political turf.  These could 
include Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori (daughter of the former 
President), former Prime Minister Yehude Simon, and 
anti-mining activist and Catholic priest, Padre Marco Arana, 
who has already formed his "Tierra y Libertad" political 
party.  In our recent conversation with her, Nadine Heredia's 
dismissive attitude toward Humala's potential political 
rivals struck us as thinly veiled concern about having to 
compete for the political space that became her husband's 
alone in 2006.  Finally, if Peru's recent electoral past is 
precedent, the prospect of a previously little known, 
last-minute candidate surging to occupy the anti-system 
segment of Peru's political spectrum -- a la Fujimori in 
1990, Toledo in 2001 and Humala himself in 2006 -- can hardly 
be ruled out.  This historical pattern also explains Humala's 
strategy of keeping at least one foot outside a system in 
which a still significant percentage of Peru's voters have 
little faith. 
MCKINLEY 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================