Cuba, US Talk Confiscated Property & Mutual Compensation

By Cafe Fuerte

Good friends. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Delegations from Cuba and the US met last week in Washington to make progress with negotiations on one of the more heated topics in the process of normalizing diplomatic relations: mutual compensation for confiscations and harm caused to citizens of both countries.

The meeting between Cuban State officials and representatives from the US State, Justice and Treasury Departments took place on July 28-29, marking the second meeting held on the controversial issue since the announcement of restored relations back on Dec. 17, 2014. The first meeting, which was more informative in nature, took place in Havana on December 8, 2015.

The US delegation was led by Brian Egan, the State Department’s legal adviser.

The meeting put financial compensation alternatives on the table for both countries. While the US claims entail property belonging to US citizens that were nationalized after the expropiations that took place when the Revolution triumphed in 1959, Cuba demands that the US compensate them for all the damages caused by the trade embargo, which is still one of the Gordian knots that stands in the way of fully normalized relations.

Priority declared

“Property claims continue to be one of our priorities in the negotiation process with Cuba,” the State Department’s spokesperson said. “We are strongly committed to defending all of those claims that have been registered, as well as the other complaints US citizens have made against Cuba and we hope to make progress with this process.”

The state official refused to go into detail about the specific topics to be discussed and he didn’t give any hints at the possibility of preliminary agreements being made before President Barack Obama’s presidency ends in January 2017.

However, analysts believe that very little progress has been made in this area and they question whether Obama’s negotiators really want to reach a settlement or not.

“We haven’t had any news 233 days after the first negotiation and we’ve only had two meetings after 18 months of dialogue, which makes it difficult for us to think that this is really a priority in Washington’s political agenda,” wrote John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which has its headquarters in New York.

The executive believes that this meeting should create a dialogue that quickly leads to a negotiation.

Time is running out for formalities

“We don’t have any more time to issue complaints and rerun our stances. This is the time for Power Point presentations, realistic prospects, compromise and acceptance so that lawyers can concentrate on drawing up agreements,” Kavulich added.

Anyway, it doesn’t look like an immediate agreement is around the corner anyhow.

The clearance accounts procedure begins with 5,913 claims made by US corporate firms and citizens who had their property or other goods confiscated, which were seized in accordance with the revolutionary government’s Decree Law 851 which came into effect on July 6, 1960. These expropiations are certified by the US Department of Justice’s Allocation of Foreign Complaints Commission and add up to around $1.8 biillion USD, according to estimates of that time.

Amongst the corporations affected were the Cuban Electricity Company, United Fruit Co., Starwood Hotels, Coca-Cola, International Telephone & Telegraph Co., and 36 sugar mills.

Today, these properties are estimated to be worth around 8 billion USD, the reason being the 6% interest charge that’s been applied every year after the confiscations took place.

Impact of the trade embargo

The Cuban government doesn’t stand far behind in its own compensation demands. For damages relating to the trade embargo, Cuba has mentioned the figure $121 billion USD, in accordance with a ruling made in a Cuban court in 2000, and human damages were fixed at about $181 billion USD.

In their last annual report about the impact of the trade embargo in front of the United Nations, Cuban representatives said that total damages accumulated over more than half a century of the trade embargo were more than $833.7 billion USD, according to the price of gold.

Properties taken from hundreds of Cuban families after 1960 do not form part of this negotiation, and do not figure on the Allocation of the Foreign Complaints Commission list.

“What is true and unchanging is the fact that the Obama administration only has 176 days to negotiate an agreement of certified claims that the Cuban government then accepts,” concluded Kavulich.



In their second meeting on the subject, both parties exchanged further details about their mutual demands and evaluated practices and processes in order to reach a settlement.

On July 28th 2016, the US and Cuba engaged in a dialogue, government to government, about mutual demands.

The US delegation was led by Brian Egan, the State Department’s legal adviser. The meeting allowed both countries to exchange further details about pending complaints and to make progress from the last meeting on the subject, held in Havana, Cuba. It also gave them the opportunity to exhange their points of view on historic practices and processes for settling this matter in the future.

Pending complaints from the US include those of US citizens who were certified by the Foreign Claim Settlement Commission; those related to sentences delivered by US courts against Cuba and US Government complaints.

The US continues to consider settling these complaints as one of its main priorities in normalizing the relationship between both countries.


The second informative meeting between representatives from the Cuban and US government took place on July 28th 2016 in Washington where they discussed mutual compensation.

The Cuban delegation was headed by Abelardo Moreno Fernandez, the Foreign Affairs Vice-Minister, and the US delegation was led by Brian J. Egan, the State Department’s chief legal adviser.

At this meeting, which continued the discussions that took place in Havana in December 2015, both delegations continued to exchange information about each of their complaints, especially their records, characteristics and legal grounds, looking to prepare a negotiation process about this matter.

Representatives from both governments recognized the importance and usefulness of continuing to exchange information.

40 thoughts on “Cuba, US Talk Confiscated Property & Mutual Compensation

  • August 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Why oh why Kennedy Earle Clarke do you insist in displaying deplorable deep and abysmal ignorance at every opportunity you get?
    You state to your so-called “Brother” Rich Haney (imagine choosing him as a relative) that Moses Paterson and I are “lacking in principles, in manhood, in morals, in the ability to stand up and dying (sic) for what they (we) believe in”, with no knowledge of our lives and actions. Such are the words and views of a miserable miniscule communist puppet trying to emerge from the slime to see daylight for the first time.
    You know naught of my military service, you know naught of my morals and you know naught of my manhood and principles. You would not have the courage – clearly you lack any- to publicly make the same statement where you could be sued and where your own obvious envy and inadequacies would be exposed.
    Your pathetic abuse of others indicates a lack of mental compass.
    Do not speak of Cuba as if the Castro family communist regime and that beautiful country and its peoples are synonymous, for they are not. You do not know Cuba or its people. Your mind is in that 19th century morass of communist thought, You do not even begin to comprehend the value of human freedom.
    You have brought Havana Times discussions to a new low, but I think that your participation was bound to do that. Do not bother to endeavour to teach me the history of Cuba – my family has done that!
    For you to endeavour to invoke Mahatma Gandhi in support of your own ignorance is but to insult his memory. But giving unjustified insult is obviously your forte!
    To make appropriately for you, a childish comment:
    ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling names won’t hurt me.’

  • August 23, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Despite what Fox news says, the Obama administration has NOT admitted it was a ransom payment. I do agree that the “axis of evil” between Iran and Cuba and their ideological offspring is concerning. But Cuba has always been ready to get in bed with anyone bringing money. This is not a new problem.

  • August 22, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    “Most Iranian experts agree”? Oh come off it! You are referring to the hack lobbyists who work for the Iranian regime.

    Upon receiving the money, which the Obama admin has admitted really was a ransom payment, Iran placed an order for Boeing aircraft, which will be used to transport weapons & fighters to Syria.

    The Iranian foreign minister is currently touring Cuba, Venezuela & Bolivia. You are remarkably naive if you think the purpose of his trip is to sell pistachios.

  • August 22, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Do not confuse the people with the regimes which rule over them, in Iran or in Cuba. The Iranian people are not the corrupt & sinister Mullahs. I love the Iranian people, and I hate the Mullahs. You serve the Mullahs, who oppress the Iranian people. I love the Cuba people and I hate the Castro regime, You serve the Castro regime which opresses the Cuban people.

    Israel has nuclear weapons to defend themselves against enemies who have openly and repeatedly declared their intention to destroy Israel and slaughter every Jew. If the Israelis were as genocidal as you Leftits ideologues claim, they would have used their nukes years ago. But they dd not.

    Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons, but if and when they do obtain them, they will use them in an attack on Israel, which they have repeated declared their intention to do. Have you any doubt they would?

    The danger is this: if Iran gets their nuclear weapons, they will use them to attack Israel. Israel has an effective missile defence system, which should protect them, However, whether or not the Iron Dome system is 1005 effective, Israel has a the capacity to strike back at Iran with an overwhelming nuclear retaliation. All of Iran will be obliterated & millions of Iranians will die.

    If you truly want peace, if you truly want to prevent the deaths of millions of innocents, then you should immediately refrain from supporting regimes, such as Iran, which are dedicated to the destruction of Israel: that way lies Armageddon. If you want peace, then you should advocate that the Muslim nations make peace with Israel, not perpetual war.

    You call for Israel to put down their shield and bare their necks to those who would slaughter them. That will never happen. You should know the meaning of these words:


  • August 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Brother Rich Haney, Moses and Carlyle are bereft of any historical facts. They have been fed humongous doses of propaganda and hatred that they lack the reasoning power to think clearly for themselves. Cuba has shown that it has principles and that it will protect those principles, its integrity and its sovereignty by not cashing those cheques which uncle SAM pays for the occupation of Guantanamo Bay. Moses and Carlyle could never mount up like the Eagles the Castro’s are.

    They are lacking in principles, in manhood, in morals, in the ability to stand up and dying for what they believe in, because this is not part and parcel of Brother’s Moses and Carlyle’s psyche. They are barren of ideas and ideals. Batista, friend of the American Mafia who operated Cuba as the brothel of the world and had 70% of its population uneducated, was a good friend and ally; the Castro’s who rescued and educated their people from ignorance are dictators and should be hated and, or, assassinated.

    Let us continue to educate our readers,for truth is truth and cannot be hidden. Mahatma Gandhi, the first Prime Minister of an Independent India said, “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth,for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, for being years ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth!”

  • August 21, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Brother Griffin, Your rhetoric makes no sense? Israel which did not sign the non- Proliferation Treaty is in possession of Nuclear Weapons supplied by America. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons. The U.N. Atomic Energy Inspectors have attested to this. Why don’t you criticize your country for supplying Israel with nuclear weapons? In the hey days of the dreaded and inhumane

    Apartheid system, America was supplying white South Africa with the technology to produce nuclear weapons. America again! Iran is a Sovereign country and it has the right to acquire any weapons it deems necessary to defend that sovereignty. What would be your reaction if Saudi Arabia were to acquire nuclear weapons? I am sure that you would lose your speech.

    People like you keep expounding your hatred for people and countries which do not tow the American line!! America is Supreme! Whatever it says should be accepted without questioning! What has happened to Sovereignty under the United Nations Charter of 1948? Which is more important, America’s bullying tactics or the Guide Lines of the United Nations Charter?

  • August 11, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    The flip side of your doomsday perspective is that given that the Iranians were on track to develop a nuclear weapon in less than 18 months, this agreement has bought some time. For the peace of the region the extra 8 years wait is a positive outcome. Most Iranian experts agree that the Iranian money that the US returned to Iran will be used primarily to support the economy. To speculate beyond this is, well, speculation. I would beg to differ with you on one last point. I am not above imploring cheap rhetorical tricks, dignity notwithstanding.

  • August 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

    That’s a false dichotomy. Cheap rhetorical tricks like that are beneath the dignity of someone with your intelligence.

    The alternative was to maintain tough economic sanctions against the Iranian regime. The economy was crumbling and popular dissent was growing. Obama cut off support for pro-democracy activists in Iran and removed the sanctions. Iran is now using that extra cash flow to fund their proxy armies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon.

    The Iran Nuclear Agreement is not an alternative to war. It ensures that within 10 years Iran will have nuclear weapons. The mullahs intend to use them. As Bernard Lewis said, “To the Iranian mullahs with their apocalyptic mindset, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.”

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