Tags: Castro-Cuba | Cuba | cuba | us | property | confiscate | damages
Cuban-Americans Look to Reclaim Billions in Losses to Castro Regime
Cuban-Americans in Miami protesting the resumption of diplomatic relations. (Getty Images)

Cuban-Americans Look to Reclaim Billions in Losses to Castro Regime

By    |   Friday, 31 July 2015 01:36 PM

With Cuba and the United States normalizing relations, thousands of Americans across the country are looking at the possibility of reclaiming billions of dollars' worth of property that had been confiscated and nationalized by the Castro regime in the 1960s.

According to USA Today, the U.S. State Department has already approached the Cuban government to begin talks about settling claims on behalf of citizens and companies to the tune of $7 billion.

"Reaching agreement on resolving outstanding claims is often a lengthy process, but the department is committed to pursuing a resolution," Gonzalo Gallegos, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy, told USA Today.

The negotiations, however, are expected to be fraught with obstacles.

The $7 billion claim doesn't including the property of thousands of Cuban-Americans that was confiscated before they fled to the United States.

"Many of these people are old, and their kids and grandkids aren't necessarily interested in going back," said Nicolas Gutierrez, who represents more than 550 Cuban-American families whose properties were confiscated, according to USA Today. "But owners should be recognized. They should be able to decide if they want the property back or get some compensation for it."

There are also billions of dollars in damages handed down by American courts against the Cuban government for the death and injuries of American citizens, USA Today said.

Cuba insists it has its own claims of compensation: a court estimated $181 billion in losses to the Cuban citizens due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and its chief diplomat made clear that the country will pursue them.

"The U.S. government has recognized that the blockade against Cuba is a wrong policy, causing isolation and bringing about humanitarian damages and privations and deprivations to our people," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said, according to USA Today.

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether Cuba could pay off the massive debts even if it were inclined to, though the country did settle many of its property claims with countries such as Spain, France and Canada, albeit over the course of years and for meager compensation.

"Those claims have been settled for pennies on the dollar," Matthew Aho, a New York-based consultant to Akerman law firm, told USA Today. "Many of these countries decided a long time ago that full diplomatic and commercial relations was in their national interest more than holding out for some future resolution of the property claims."

One scenario for companies that are owed by the Cuban government could see deals in which monetary loss is forgiven in exchange for access to the Cuban market, said one expert, according to USA Today.

"If the opportunity presents itself, we certainly would not be opposed to dealing with the Cuban government about other ways to resolve the issue," Patrick Fraizer, senior vice president of the New Orleans-based Pan-American Life Insurance Group, told USA Today.

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With Cuba and the United States normalizing relations, thousands of Americans across the country are looking at the possibility of reclaiming billions of dollars worth of property that had been confiscated and nationalized by the Castro regime in the 1960s.
cuba, us, property, confiscate, damages, 7 billion
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2015-36-31
Friday, 31 July 2015 01:36 PM
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