Cablegate Chronicles: Hugo Chavez's 'Mini-Me' and the Suitcases Full of Cash

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The rich relationship between Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.

FROM: MANAGUA, NICARAGUA
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: MAY 8, 2008
CLASSIFICATION: SECRET
SEE FULL CABLE

¶8. (S/NF) Chavez "Mini-Me": With respect to Venezuela, Ortega is a willing follower of Chavez who has replaced Castro as Ortega's mentor. Initially the relationship seemed largely a mutual admiration society with Chavez slow to send assistance; however, the ALBA alliance has finally begun to produce monetary benefit for Ortega and the FSLN. We have first-hand reports that GON officials receive suitcases full of cash from Venezuelan officials during official trips to Caracas. We also believe that Ortega's retreat last year from his demand that the Citizens Power Councils (CPCs) be publicly funded was due in part to the fact that the Venezuelan cash pipeline had come on-line. Multiple contacts have told us that Ortega uses Venezuelan oil cash to fund the CPCs and FSLN municipal election campaigns. Several unconfirmed reports indicate that Ortega will have as much as 500 million dollars at his disposal over the course of 2008.

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