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id: 61736
date: 4/25/2006 19:49
refid: 06SANSALVADOR1080
origin: Embassy San Salvador
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 06STATE47342

DE RUEHSN #1080/01 1151949
P 251949Z APR 06

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2026
REF: STATE 047342
Classified By: Amb. H. Douglas Barclay. Reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1. (S/NF)  This cable is a response to the questions posed in
2.  (C)  How does Saca react to disappointments?  Can he deal
with them internally, or does he lash out at others?  How
does Saca rationalize his own failures or those of his
subordinates?  Does he tolerate mistakes?
Saca demonstrates he has great energy, both in public and
private, and has given no observable indication that he has
trouble dealing with stress. Saca was very disappointed that
his ARENA Party did not do as well as he had expected in the
March 12 national elections, and, according to some of his
closest friends and family members, was somewhat shaken that
his personal popularity was not enough to pull the party
towards greater electoral results.  Nonetheless, Saca seems
to have bounced back fairly quickly and is in the process of
re-energizing his administration. Although there was a fair
amount of recrimination from Saca towards those advisers he
considered partly responsible for the electoral results,
several close advisers report that Saca was not demeaning or
disrespectful towards those individuals. On the contrary,
several of Saca's closest friends characterize him as too
tolerant of incompetence among his inner circle.
3.  (C)  How does Saca react to criticism from those closest
to him as well as from outside observers such as the press?
Few of Saca's closest advisers are willing to criticize him
directly, perhaps more for lack of courage and conviction
than because of expected negative repercussions.  Those few
who do criticize him are his two older uncles and a handful
of hired consultants outside the government.  Saca respects
the advise of these individuals and has taken harsh criticism
from them in the past.  Saca handles even the strongest
criticism from the press with cool professionalism.
4.  (C)  How easily does Saca change his opinion of other
people, organizations, or important issues?  Does he hold
Saca is not known to hold grudges, but has changed his view
of some people in his government over time, especially when
he feels they are not fully committed to him or his ARENA
Party.  Saca is especially wary of people he feels are too
sympathetic to the left, especially the FMLN.
5.  (C)  How far does Saca take his suspicions of the FMLN
and does he view other things in a similarly negative or
paranoid light?  How does he view opponents or competitors?
Does he demonstrate the ability to show empathy toward them
or does he view them as entirely malevolent?
Saca is politically savvy and likes to use the FMLN as his
"whipping boy," especially when dealing with USG
counterparts.  Moreover, Saca has a visceral dislike for
communism (FMLN, Castro, Chavez), which he blames for having
destroyed the country's infrastructure and overall economy
during the war years. Saca is proud to say that he smokes
only Padron cigars, made by Miami Cubans, and would never
smoke a Cohiba.  He also vows never to establish formal
relations with Cuba so long as Castro is in power.  Saca
expresses justifiable concern over Chavez's interference in
El Salvador's internal affairs, and the threat of a
Chavez-Castro-Ortega-FMLN axis in this sub-region. Saca's
arguments are well reasoned and not based on paranoia.  Saca
is a masterful politician, and deals with ease with
adversaries from all the political parties, including FMLN
members in the National Assembly.
6.  (C)  Does Saca easily get upset or have mood swings?  If
prone to blowing up, what is most likely to set him off and
who is most effective at calming him down?
According to Saca's closest friends and family members, Saca
is the same easygoing person in private that he portrays in
public.  Embassy dealings with Saca generally corroborate
that view.  However, during the Summit of the Americas in Mar
del Plata in early November 2005, Saca reportedly blew up at
Salvadoran Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez because Saca was
to be seated next to President Bush at the formal dinner, and
the Argentines had apparently rearranged the seating so that
Saca was placed several seats away from President Bush.
Lainez reportedly told USG interlocutors that Saca was beside
himself and demanded that Lainez schedule a one-on-one
meeting with President Bush.
7.  (C)  What is his family life like?  Does Saca make time
to relax or divert himself from his political life?
Saca seems to focus all of his attention on his political
career and seems to spend little time with his wife or two
sons.  However, Saca takes family vacations during the
Christmas and Easter holidays.  During the Christmas
vacation, Saca frequently enjoys taking his wife and two sons
to California, and spends the time with his two Amcit
brothers and their families.  During Easter, Saca and his
family normally stay at a family beach house in El Salvador.
During these holidays, Saca largely isolates himself from his
advisers and focuses on his family.  Other than his wife and
children, Saca's closest family members are his wife's
siblings, in-laws, and his two elder uncles, who often serve
as surrogate father figures.
8.  (C)  Does Saca have problems with concentration, appear
fatigued or have trouble sleeping?
Embassy is not aware of Saca having problems with
concentration.  In fact, Saca has always been extremely sharp
during meetings with USG officials.  Embassy is not aware of
Saca's sleeping patterns.
9.  (C)  Recent photos suggest Saca has become significantly
heavier.  We are interested in information on his diet as
well as insights into any substances Saca might be taking
(including medications, illegal narcotics, herbal remedies,
Embassy is not aware of Saca using any of the above
substances.  Likewise, Saca is not a regular alcohol drinker,
and will rarely have a straight, aged tequila, his drink of
preference on those occasions.  Saca does worry about his
weight, and was on some type of regular diet and exercise
plan during his presidential election campaign. Clearly, Saca
is not following a diet or exercise regimen, and does like to

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