Luis Castañeda calificó a García de "vendedor de sebo de culebra"

id: 58639 date: 3/29/2006 19:41 refid: 06LIMA1229 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0019 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #1229/01 0881941 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 291941Z MAR 06 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9475 INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 3170 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6613 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9234 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 3159 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 0169 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 0342 RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4168 RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001229 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/29/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PE SUBJECT: LIMA MAYOR CASTENEDA,S UNUSUAL AND SUCCESSFUL APPROACH TO POLITICS Classified By: Ambassador Curt Struble for Reason 1.4 (B/D) 1. (C) SUMMARY: Lima Mayor Luis Casteneda has a unique political style that has built him political support among the lower middle class and poor. He eschews vocal populism, letting his deeds speak for him, and approaches municipal governance in a manner more common to business than the public sector. Castaneda won the affection of Lima's poor through public works (building nearly 1000 cement stairways up to marginal suburban settlements, erecting clinics, rehabilitating parks) and prioritizing transportation projects that help the poor. Casteneda,s administration charges user,s fees for most of these programs. This, coupled with more efficient tax collection, has balanced Lima's books after many years of deficits. Although he bypassed the Presidential race this time, Castaneda is a driven man who aspires to the top office. He expects to be the rallying point for the opposition if ultra-nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala wins the Presidency. END SUMMARY. 2. (SBU) On March 23 Lima Mayor Luis Casteneda Lossio invited Chiefs of Mission accredited to Peru to join him for a six hour tour of his public works initiatives. The fact that nearly 30 of the 49 resident Ambassadors attended speaks to Casteneda,s standing as Peru,s most popular political leader. (He regularly polls approval ratings in the 70 percent range.) Casteneda has a unique political style. Though a coalition ally of center-right Presidential candidate Lourdes Flores, Casteneda has built his political support at the opposite end of the social/economic spectrum -- among the lower middle class and poor. He eschews the populist formula that so often characterizes candidates who pitch themselves to the poor; Casteneda seldom has much to say to the public, letting his deeds speak rather than words. He has approached municipal governance in a manner more common to business than the public sector. 3. (U) Casteneda, who will seek reelection in November 2006, has been in office for three years. He ran a come-from-behind campaign based in Lima,s poor "conos" to defeat Alberto Andrade, who looked unbeatable at the onset of the 2002 race. Casteneda is a native of Chiclayo in northern Peru where his father was a highly regarded mayor three decades ago. He continues to have strong ties to the north coast, where two of his Solidaridad Nacional Congressional candidates won election in 2001. Casteneda,s political success in Lima has been personal rather than institutional; Lourdes Flores Popular Christian Party (PPC), rather than Casteneda,s National Solidarity (SN) party, is still the more important element in the capital of their Unidad Nacional alliance. 4. (U) Castaneda won the affection of Lima's poor in 2002 by building several hundred cement stairways up the sand dunes where the capital,s squatters live without access to roads, water, sewage or police services. Since his election, Casteneda has pressed forward with the stairways, which he calls "the expressways of the poor," bringing their cumulative number to nearly 1000. The positive impact of these routes, where thousands previously hauled water and fuel up several hundred vertical feet of loose sand, is hard to overstate. The stairways are almost the only public works, however, for which Casteneda,s administration does not charge a user,s fee. The mayor has: -- built 14 "solidarity hospitals" in marginal neighborhoods of Lima, converting shipping containers and retired buses into examination rooms. These "hospitals" (they are actually more like clinics) are all self-financing though the basic charge for a non-specialized consultation is only USD 1.20. The Ambassadors visited the first solidarity hospital, which was opened just 5 months after Casteneda assumed office. That facility is staffed by private doctors and sees an average of 2500 patients per day. Casteneda noted that most of the clientele could seek free treatment from the Social Security hospital system, but find that the transportation costs (not to mention lost time) in reaching those centralized facilities are as much as the fee for the service he provides. -- expanded and rehabilitated several parks. The parks charge a basic admission of US 50 cents per person and additional fees for use of pools or other special facilities. Most are built in C sector neighborhoods and offer the only recreation around. As a result, they are well-used despite the cost. Casteneda prides himself on the quality these facilities, saying that he aims to give the poor something that only members of private clubs previously could access. The Ambassadors visited two such parks and saw that the boast isn,t much of an overstatement. -- given priority to transportation projects that help the poor. By July 2006 the city will have completed the first expressway (the Avenida Grau project) for the exclusive use of public transportation. It will allow users of the city,s electric train, which has been extended by Casteneda, to reach center of Lima more quickly and cheaply. One year later, the city expects to complete an underground bus station at Plaza Grau that will for the first time connect public transportation along expressways that run from the city,s extreme north to its extreme south. The municipal government is working with bus owners to establish fixed routes and timetables so that commuters of modest means will know when they can get service. (Buses presently operate in a completely haphazard way.) By removing thousands of buses from crowded city streets, Casteneda hopes to ease traffic flow in Lima,s central district and attract new investment there. 5. (U) Reversing more than a decade of persistent deficits in the city budget, Casteneda has both balanced Lima,s books and more than doubled its infrastructure expenditures. He did this first by a relentless crackdown on property owners who were either evading or badly in arrears on taxes. His first large investments were in toll road expressways. Having shown that the income stream on those projects more than covered costs, Casteneda was able to earn a local AAA rating for bond issues to reprofile high-interest debt and build more projects. 6. (C) COMMENT: Casteneda has broken the political mold in Peru. While now well regarded by Lima,s privileged (who supported his opponent in 2002), his political base is among the C/D/E sectors. Yet he does not approach these voters as his competitors do -- he rarely gives speeches and is averse to offering handouts. Though greater Lima holds more than one-third of Peru,s voters, the mayor,s office has a lousy record of launching even its popular incumbents into the Presidency. Casteneda decided this time around to stay out of the national race, reportedly because of a health problem (a painful bum leg) and because too many of his public works projects were still just holes in the ground. He is a driven man, though, who certainly aspires for the top office. In the meantime, he told the Ambassador that he expects to be the rallying point for the opposition if Humala wins the Presidency. His credibility among the classes that also form Humala,s political base will favor him in that role, but a hostile national administration can also dull Casteneda,s record. While Unidad Nacional has wavered between loyal and fierce opposition to Toledo, Casteneda has had a good relationship with the President, who has provided a lot of financial backing to the mayor,s grander public transportation projects. END COMMENT. STRUBLE =======================CABLE ENDS============================ id: 49732 date: 1/13/2006 14:19 refid: 06LIMA158 origin: Embassy Lima classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: header: VZCZCXYZ0002 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHPE #0158/01 0131419 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 131419Z JAN 06 FM AMEMBASSY LIMA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8087 INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2842 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8909 RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN QUITO 9916 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0070 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6437 RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL ----------------- header ends ---------------- C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000158 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PE SUBJECT: LIMA MAYOR LUIS CASTANEDA ON OLLANTA HUMALA Classified By: Political Counselor Alexander Margulies. Reason: 1.4(b/ d). 1. (C) SUMMARY: Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda, in a 1/10 meeting with the Ambassador and Polcouns, characterized Ollanta Humala's appeal to Peru's marginalized voters as one of "sentiment," not reasoning. He cautioned that frontal attacks on Humala will backfire and mused that the best way to undercut the latter would be by shining a light on him, his positions, and his congressional candidates. Castaneda, who is Peru's most popular politician, said that he would personally get involved in the campaign "at an opportune moment," which would probably come sometime between the first and second rounds of presidential balloting. His National Solidarity party is a member of Lourdes Flores' Unidad Nacional alliance, and will be running a slate of congressional candidates under its banner, most of whom have worked with Castaneda before. He predicted that the presidential race will come down to Flores and Humala, with Flores coming out on top. END SUMMARY. 2. (C) Castaneda assessed Ollanta Humala's appeal as follows: -- The Peruvian electorate can be divided into two sectors: the conventional sector, which will vote for traditional politicians such as Lourdes Flores, Valentin Paniagua and Alan Garcia, and the non-conventional sector, which will vote for anti-system candidates such as Alberto Fujimori or Humala. -- The non-conventional sector has been growing because the traditional politicians and the three branches of government are increasingly discredited. The people are fed up with the old figures, they see no light at the end of the tunnel, and the polls show that most would leave the country if they could. -- The non-conventional sector's vote is one of rejection, it is not a positive action. Support for Ollanta Humala is based on this "sentiment" of rejection, not on any of Humala's particular qualities. The non-conventional candidate could be Humala, or it could be any John Doe, just so long as his campaign is aimed at obtaining vengeance on the corrupt elite. -- The less Humala says the more he will benefit from this sentiment: "If I was his advisor I'd tell him to keep his mouth shut." -- The population also senses a lack of leadership, and Humala appeals to the desire for a strong figure in charge. 3. (C) The traditional politicians, Castaneda acknowledged, are largely to blame for this situation, as they have battled over the spoils of power rather than dedicate themselves to improving the lot of Peru's poorest. He contrasted this to his own actions as Mayor, in which he has sought to employ the Lima Municipality's meager resources in the most efficient manner possible to bring about positive tangible improvements in people's lives, pointing in particular to his program of building over 1000 staircases in the shantytowns clinging to the hillsides surrounding the capital (Note: Castaneda's approval rating currently is about 80%. End Note). Castaneda also faulted the media for helping to destroy people's faith in the country and demoralizing society as a whole, noting that it refuses to provide adequate coverage to positive developments while accentuating the negatives. He dismissed most media organs and journalists as little more than blackmail artists, dredging up scandals in order to extort money from those involved, rather than to promote needed reforms. 4. (C) The best way to counter Humala, Castaneda opined, would be by forcing him and his followers into the light of publicity. The more people become aware of who Humala, his vice presidential and his congressional running mates really are, the Lima Mayor explained, the more it will weaken the power of the "sentiment" that has brought him up in the polls and, "the more the people will realize that he is not the dream they thought he was." Another useful tactic, Castaneda suggested, would be to create confusion regarding the four Humalas currently involved in politics: Ollanta, his brother Ulises (running as a rival presidential hopeful on the Avanza Pais ticket), his imprisoned brother Antauro (charged with responsibility for the death of five people in the January 2005 Andahuaylas uprising) and his father Isaac (most recently talking favorably about the possibility of war with Chile). 5. (C) The worst way to counter Humala, Castaneda continued, would be to attack him frontally. If the traditional politicians try this, he declared, it would just play into Humala's hands as his potential electorate is naturally inclined to believe the opposite of what the traditional pols say. The media is equally discredited, and has far less influence than it is thought to have. Castaneda pointed out that he was elected Mayor despite having the media against his candidacy. "The way to communicate with the people," he emphasized, "is not through words," but through personal contact and deeds. 6. (C) When asked by the Ambassador for his predictions on the outcome of the election, Castaneda replied that he thought it would come down to a run-off between Lourdes Flores (to whose Unidad Nacional alliance he belongs) and Humala, with Flores emerging victorious. He dismissed the possibility that APRA's Alan Garcia would win through to the second round, calling him a "snake oil salesman with a tired message whose day has passed." Castaneda cautioned, however, that he suspected that his opinion may have been influenced more by his heart than his head. 7. (C) With respect to his own involvement in the electoral process, Castaneda said that he would intervene, "at the opportune moment." He was not sure precisely when this moment would come, but stated that it would probably be sometime between the first and second round of presidential balloting. A politician has to safeguard his influence and credibility, the Mayor explained, and he would be very careful in deciding when to play his political chits. 8. (C) Castaneda added that his National Solidarity party has largely finalized its congressional candidates that will run under the Unidad Nacional alliance. Most have worked with the Mayor before, either for the municipality or for the Social Security Administration, which Castaneda previously headed. Almost all of these candidates have never served in Congress before, he noted, the exceptions being holdovers in Lambayeque and Piura (a reference to current Unidad Nacional legislators Rafael Aita and Fabiola Morales). 9. (C) COMMENT: Castaneda is by far and away Peru's most popular politician, an honor he has earned through hard work, apparently honest government, and an ability to communicate with the poorest classes, understanding their needs and responding effectively to them. As he himself noted, "I am much more popular in the E sector (Peru's least well off) than Ollanta." His National Solidarity party has built up a strong party organization in the shanty towns around Lima, which enables him to keep his finger on the socio-political pulse. His views on the basis for Humala's popularity, and on the ways to undermine it, are worth paying attention to. END COMMENT. STRUBLE =======================CABLE ENDS=====================