Wikileaks. Cable 205404

id: 205404
date: 5/4/2009 16:16
refid: 09LIMA637
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL

DE RUEHPE #0637/01 1241616
P 041616Z MAY 09

————————- header ends ————————

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000637


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2019

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

1. (C) Summary: I met one-on-one with Nationalist Party
leader Ollanta Humala April 16 at his request. Across
two-and-a-half hours of discussion, Humala revealed perhaps
more than he intended of his electoral strategy for regional
and congressional elections in 2010 and for presidential
elections in 2011. He is clearly working closely with some
of the most radical groups in Peru, even as he continues to
project a moderate nationalist line on economic,
international, and political issues. Ollanta has also
successfully raised his media profile in recent weeks, in
part by joining a growing national consensus on what should
be done about the VRAE region, where Sendero and drug
traffickers hold sway. I was struck by a growing
self-confidence, a view echoed by at least one other veteran
observer of the political scene. I was also left with the
impression that Ollanta remains ambivalent about fully
abandoning radical alternatives. He is open to suggestions
on international travel and, for at least the third time in
as many discussions over the past ten months, indicated his
interest in visiting the US. We should consider our options
on supporting his travel should he formally make a request.
End Summary.

2. (C) Ollanta was supposed to visit with his wife Nadine
Herrera, international secretary of his party, and reputedly
the radical political brains behind Humala. Her father,
however, is on his deathbed (and died April 24), and the
meeting was one-on-one at the residence. Humala, dressed in
jeans and a polo shirt, was extremely relaxed, and without
the coaxing we have seen previously from his wife, remarkably
open on a number of topics.

Bases, VRAE, and Drugs
3. (C) An April 9 Sendero Luminoso attack had left 14
soldiers dead in the VRAE. Despite several attacks over the
previous twelve months, this incident sparked a level of
sustained national media and Congressional attention on the
VRAE not seen for years. Ollanta reflected that
preoccupation, and said he saw his opening to speak with some
degree of authority with both myself and the media because of
his past as a military officer fighting Sendero in the
Huancavelica area in the late 1980s.

4. (C) Ollanta first raised his usual concerns about an
American base in Pichari, a report he claimed to have seen of
upcoming joint exercises involving 3,000 Colombians and
Americans in Peru, and the numerous US naval ship visits
planned for 2009. I rebutted Ollanta’s claims in greater
detail than on previous occasions. I did acknowledge the
problems in perception we had encountered during the New
Horizons humanitarian assistance exercises, and Ollanta
pointed out it was difficult for the local population of
Ayacucho (formerly the heart of Sendero) to see military
forces as benign. Locals saw the humanitarian projects as
preparations for establishing a more permanent US presence in
the area. I told Ollanta what he should already should know:
that USG support for infrastructure improvement in Peru was
part of a decades-long tradition of American cooperation with
Peruvian security forces, and that this assistance would

5. (C) Ollanta dropped the subject, and instead discussed his
efforts to play a constructive role during the week following
the April 9 Sendero attack in Sanabamba. By way of
background, he noted that the VRAE would remain a near
impossible area to control. Virtually all the population (of
200,000) was in some way tied to the drug trade. Efforts to
develop alternative crops would not work given the challenges
of the terrain and the poor infrastructure. The police and
army personnel stationed there were completely corrupted, and
unwilling to engage. Ollanta reprised his call for creating
a $200 million fund to buy the annual coca crop as
alternatives were developed and the government provided
social services and infrastructure. He estimated that this
would be a fraction of the cost of continuing to prosecute a
war in the VRAE. He stated that any efforts to prematurely
eradicate coca production (at almost half Peru’s total) would
not only fail, but radicalize the population. When Ollanta
pressed on his proposal to buy out the coca farmers, I
suggested that this was an idea which had little support, and
presumably for good reasons. I strongly urged Humala to
travel to Vienna and other capitals to develop a firmer
appreciation of how the scourge of trafficking worldwide was
tackled. Humala was receptive, but asked how he could go
about doing so.

6. (C) In recent days, Ollanta had reached out to the
government. He had spoken twice with Prime Minister Yehude
Simon and communicated a proposal to establish a multi-party
commission to oversee development in the VRAE. Ollanta had
proposed one of his supporters to chair the commission,
someone who knew the region and the issues. Ollanta
rationalized that it was he, and not the government, who had
most to lose from this national unity response to the crisis.
If the commission failed to deliver in the VRAE, Humala’s
Nationalist Party image would be damaged nationally. Simon
had expressed interest, but then spoken to President Garcia.
The answer back was “interesting idea”, which Humala
interpreted as a no. He reiterated that he had made the
offer as a patriot: the situation in the VRAE was serious.

7. (C) In explaining his concern, Ollanta noted that recent
human rights abuses claims against him were politically
motivated, and as unlikely to prosper as previous accusations
that he had supported his radical brother Antauro’s coup
attempt a few years ago. The new incident had a woman
claiming that an army commander code-named “Carlos” had
cold-bloodedly killed her son during the first war against
Sendero. The murder had in fact taken place when Ollanta was
no longer assigned to the region as an officer. He discussed
his days as an officer in the field, the importance of
winning hearts and minds, and of Sendero violations he had
witnessed. (In a subsequent appearance on a television news
show, Ollanta expounded at length on the situation in the
VRAE. Much of the time, he sounded remarkably moderate and

8. (C) I asked Humala about the current political scene.
Ollanta indicated his desire to be constructive, but grew
more pointed in his remarks when I asked him about electoral
prospects. He thought the Fujimori trial had hurt Keiko, the
former president’s daughter and standard-bearer. Ollanta
stated he remained a strong candidate for the future, and the
tactics of his opponents and specifically President Garcia
were to ensure Ollanta did not reach the second round of a
presidential election, as he successfully did in 2006.

9. (C) Ollanta had carefully studied the polling on why he
had lost in 2006 (in quite some detail), calculating that the
proliferation of candidates weakened his candidacy. The
emergence of the recently retired (and controversial) army
commander Edwin Donayre as a potential presidential candidate
was a perfect example. “Someone is behind him”, because
Donayre would never be a serious candidate. Ollanta did
testily acknowledge Donayre could draw off votes that would
otherwise go to the Nationalist candidate. When I ventured
to suggest, on the basis of my numerous contacts with Donayre
over the previous year, that the general had the common
touch, Humala was dismissive. He said that the apparent
affection soldiers exhibited for Donayre, was very much a
product of military hierarchy. Enlisted men took their cue
from the behavior of their commanders, and responded
accordingly. Donayre was in fact a “clown,” with little to
offer, and a simplistic populist message. (Note: Donayre is
virulently anti-Chilean, a Quechua speaker, and rails against
privilege. End Note.) Humala also mentioned that on the
left, NGOs and others had sought to encourage the leftist
activist priest Father Marco Arana to run, convincing the
latter he could have national appeal, but this was a forlorn
exercise. (Note: Arana is based in Cajamarca in the north,
and his primary platform is fighting mining investments,
especially foreign companies, in the name of impoverished
local populations and the environment. In a May 4 interview,
he answered questions likening him to Paraguayan President
Lugo. End Note.)

10. (C) I spoke about the global economic crisis, the impact
on Peru, and suggested there seemed to be a general
international consensus on how to respond. I added that
Presidents Chavez and Morales were rather isolated in railing
against measures that even Russia and China were prepared to
support. Humala said that just because he saw himself in the
leftist international bloc did not mean he agreed with
everything his regional allies said or did.

11. (C) This led to a discussion about how Humala interacted
with his party and Congress. Humala noted that he had only
gone to Congress two or three times since losing the
presidential election. He managed his Nationalist Party
congresspersons directly, however. When they were first
elected in 2006, he had had to be a “military general” in
order to forge a common voice. He met with the caucus
weekly, and it was not a simple task: mixing professional
lawyers with indigenous representatives was a challenge.
They would sit at different ends of the table. As things
gelled, he relied on more informal mechanisms, but he stayed
on top of whatever was happening in Congress.

12. (C) I asked about how the Nationalist Party dealt with
more radical political groupings in Peru. Ollanta, without
hesitating, responded that he dealt with them directly. In
fact, two days previously he had met in Lima with far-left
labor leader (Mario Huaman), and the leaders of Patria Roja
(Alberto Moreno) and the MNI. They had discussed the
strategy for the 2010 regional and local elections. I
expressed surprise, and asked how this coalition-building
squared with the more moderate image Ollanta was trying to
project. After correcting me by noting he was moderate on
national political and economic issues, Humala said he was
the one in the driver’s seat. He was the one with political
legitimacy; he was the one with leadership capability; he was
the one with a national program. The other actors had none
of the above. Moreno had won less than a quarter of one
percent of the national vote in 2006. Moreover, these
groupings were riven by internal dissent and looking to use
political power to secure positions. (Note: The implication
was that they had lost their way. End Note.) Most
critically, they did not understand that the key raison
d’etre for a political party was winning power. Everything
else flowed from winning elections.

13. (C) I asked what this motley coalition of radicals did
for a coherent national message, and mobilization of support.
Humala indicated that these groups were already active in
radicalizing populations, and it was, in effect, better to
have them inside the tent rather than outside. He discussed
their potential role in places like Pasco, Junin, Cajamarca,
and in the south. He also sought to help them where
appropriate: a group representing workers in the sierra had
been in touch asking for money to help their members stay
afloat in a deteriorating economic situation. When it came
to the national platform, however, it was he and the
Nationalist Party that would decide what policies were.
Humala had no doubt he could control the messaging of the

14. (C) I closed by noting that working with radicals
nonetheless had implications, and would not be appealing to
the wider political spectrum Humala sought to attract.
Humala surprisingly took this on board and said he would take
a closer look at what Patria Roja was doing in Lima. (Note:
Our indications are that Patria Roja and Sendero are looking
to work in universities again. End Note.)

International and Travel
15. (C) Humala asked me what he thought about recent changes
in Cuba. I responded that it appeared that Raul Castro was
tightening his grip, possibly for change in the future.
Humala commented that Cuba’s was an “extremely hermetic”
government. He thought the dismissal of Perez Roque and Lage
had been handled in a rough fashion. He added that there
were a number of people below their level who had also been
dismissed summarily, and regretted it. (Note: It was hard to
read where Ollanta was taking this point. End Note.)

16. (C) In addition to asking about how to go about
arranging travel to UN offices and Europe (I suggested
Ollanta talk to relevant diplomatic missions), Humala made a
strong pitch for travel to the US. He did not have a date in
mind but wanted to be sure that if and when he applied for a
visa he would not be embarrassed (by a turndown, presumably).
I promised to look into the possibility at the right time.
Ollanta also asked how he could be in touch with the
Democratic Party. His request was inchoate but repeated: he
wanted to have contact with the party in the context of
developing transparent relations with the United States. He
also repeated previous assurances that he wanted to maintain
open channels with the mission in Lima.

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

Publicado el lunes 04 de julio, 2011 a las 11:40 | RSS 2.0.
Última actualización el lunes 04 de julio, 2011 a las 11:41

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