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.

 

DECLARATION FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT WHEN THE MEETING CAME TO A CLOSE

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.

NOTE FROM CUBA’S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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
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    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
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    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
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    “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
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    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:

    NEVER AGAIN!

  • August 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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.”

  • August 10, 2016 at 11:04 pm
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    I’ll take whatever I can get. By the way, what was the alternative to the Iran Nuclear agreement? War?

  • August 10, 2016 at 2:07 pm
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    The Iranians certainly believe the payment was ransom.

    Presidents are expected to perform at a very high level. They should not be given a mere pass, or “catch a break”. The Iranian nuclear deal is a dangerous mistake, as is most of Obama’s foreign policy. Do you recall Obama sneering at Romney for suggesting Russia is Americas greatest geopolitical threat? Not so laughable today is it?

    I also disagree with Obama’s Cuba policy. However, I do think he handled his trip to Cuba rather well. He used his personal charm to good advantage with the Cuban people and his speech in Havana had some good points (and a few weak bits). His press conference was excellent, in as much as it showcased Raul’s discomfort at the experience.

    So there, he does “catch a break” from me, sometimes.

  • August 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm
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    Do you think Rich that Vidal could negotiate freedom for the people of Cuba from the oppression imposed by her political masters?

  • August 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm
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    Vidal has been very successful in her negotiations with the US because she’s dealing with a motivated Obama who wants a deal, not matter what. And she got it all with a minimum of concessions from Cuba’s side.

    Moses has it almost right: it’s the Castro regime which should count their lucky stars they have Obama to deal with.

  • August 9, 2016 at 10:40 am
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    Don’t believe the Republican hype. This ‘payment’ was long-held Iranian money dating back to before the hostage crisis more than 30 years ago. The timing of the delivery was obviously bad optics but the US policy of not paying hostage ransom remains intact. Despite of all the good that this President has done, it would appear that from his detractors, for WHATEVER REASON, he can’t catch a break.

  • August 9, 2016 at 8:43 am
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    Seeing how it has just come out that Obama sent a ransom payment of $400 million to Iran to get some US hostages released, you shouldn’t hold out much hope he’ll stand his ground against Castro’s demands.

    He’s probably writing out the cheques now. After all, it’s not his money. It’s only yours!

  • August 8, 2016 at 10:06 pm
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    See above Moses my recent response to Rich Haney.

  • August 8, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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    Your constant need – presumably psychological to constantly refer to Batista who departed Cuba for Dominica almost fifty eight years ago and has been dead for very many years, demonstrates an inability to address the reality of Cuba now.
    Have you read in full the US Cuban Democracy Act? If so, what are your particular criticisms of it?
    Please don’t lump me in with US citizens! I read the contributions made by US citizens in these pages and frankly many are tendentious with constant harping about internal political problems, most of which are of little interest to the outside world.
    Incidentally Rich Haney who exactly appointed you to represent the views and opinions of “billions of others” or is that merely a grandiose self-opinion?

  • August 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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    I don’t share your “facts” as facts. For example, I am hugely anti-Castro and at the same time no fan of the dictatorship that Castro defeated. In FACT, I know quite a few Cubans who would like to see the Castros go away and NONE of them want anything to do with the Batista regime. BTW, what is it with you and the Batista dictatorship? Relax your sphincter already and accept the FACT that being anti-Castro has NOTHING to do with supporting a regime that is long gone some 57 years.

  • August 6, 2016 at 8:24 pm
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    That’s just my point, Moses. The “toothlessness” of the UN vast majority and the “toothlessness” of the majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans, and citizens of the world is precisely why I, and billions of others in a world that has just 7+ billions of people, are ashamed of America’s Cuban policy that is designed purely to sate the revenge, economic and political desires of a few. That’s not the way democracy was designed to work, but in 1952 the U. S. democracy teamed with the Mafia to support the vile Batista dictatorship in Cuba and then, for the most part, the U. S. democracy has teamed with the remnants of the ousted Batista debacle since 1959. Now, you and Carlyle chew on those facts while you try to come up with another topic that has harmed the image of the U. S. and democracy as much as America’s Batistiano-engineered Cuban policy.

  • August 6, 2016 at 6:10 am
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    You noticed that too?

  • August 5, 2016 at 1:57 pm
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    Lots and lots of Germans visit the Disney World in Paris – there is even a station for the Eurostar train system.
    Poor Rich Haney has a psychological problem related to Batista who he obviously cannot accept as being dead, because he is constantly trying to resurrect him.

  • August 5, 2016 at 7:44 am
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    Unfortunately it did not succeed …..to the detriment of every Cuban

  • August 4, 2016 at 10:08 pm
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    Do you mean that toothless tiger of a vote that has taken place every year? Where are the sanctions? What is the downside to the US economy? Fewer Germans will visit Disneyworld? The annual UN vote is meaningless to Americans and has no impact whatsoever in influencing our Cuban policy.

  • August 4, 2016 at 10:03 pm
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    The embargo “failed” to provoke a counterrevolution resulting in the overthrow of the Castro dictatorship. No secret there. If the Castros had been fully funded and equipped, they would have wreaked even more havoc throughout Latin America. The worldwide rejection of South African apartheid equally contributed to ending white minority rule in that country.

  • August 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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    Moses, according to declassified U. S. documents from 1962 {which are posted on the U.S. Archives website}, the purpose of the embargo was to deprive and starve Cubans on the island for the purpose of inducing them to rise up and eliminate or overthrow Fidel Castro. This was after assassination attempts, the bombing and military attack at the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961, terrorist attacks against the Cuban coastline and even Havana hotels and even a Cuban civilian airplane, failed to overturn the revolution. So, Moses, are you saying that the “failure of its primary goal” is that a half-century of depriving and starving Cubans on the island has failed to dislodge Castro is “the failure” of the embargo? Those who feel that way must be irked that Fidel turns 90 years old next week, August 13th. As for his exporting failed socialist ideology, I believe one of history’s greatest civil rights icons, Nelson Mandela, credits Fidel Castro with exporting enough troops to Africa to get Mandela freed from prison and overturn the dreaded imperialist-beloved apartheid. And, oh yes, Mandela then replaced apartheid by becoming South Africa’s democratically elected President. That’s what history says. Propaganda, of course, says otherwise.

  • August 4, 2016 at 6:49 pm
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    No, Moses. Americans should thank “their lucky stars” for Obama. That’s because he, like billions of others {remember that 191-to-2 yearly vote in the UN} and like all of America’s best friends around the world are rightfully ashamed of the seemingly unending harm the Batistiano-directed U. S. Cuban policy does to the U. S. and democracy. In my humble opinion, only self-serving Americans or Cuban-Americans support that policy. And as for Josefina Vidal, Cubans should thank “their lucky stars” for her brilliance and her patriotism.

  • August 4, 2016 at 6:41 pm
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    If Vidal’s negotiating skills are so great, let her try to negotiate freedom for the people of Cuba from the Castro family communist dictatorship.

  • August 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    The embargo did however stifle the efforts of the Castros to continue to export their failed socialist ideology. Some good came of it despite the failure of its primary goal.

  • August 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm
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    Obama, back in 2007, ran on a platform to normalize relations with Cuba. If you want to also argue that Vidal take credit for convincing Obama to include Cuba relations in his list of presidencial campaign promises, go right ahead. The truth is that she and the rest of the Cuban people should thank their lucky stars for Barack Obama.

  • August 4, 2016 at 7:07 am
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    Vidal’s negotiation skills got embassies opened in both capitals for the first time since 1961. She got all the Cuba 5 back home. She got Cuba removed from the Sponsors of Terrorism list. She got Cruise Ships coming to Cuba. She got commercial airplane flights coming to Cuba starting later this month for the first time in half-a-century. I could go on but does any of that sound “revelant” to you, Moses?

  • August 4, 2016 at 5:53 am
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    The embargo employed on Cuba has been effective too. Oh wait! The Castros are still there, and the Cuban people remain the only victims of the US economic embargo. Yes, I’d say it’s been quite effective.

  • August 3, 2016 at 1:11 pm
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    My heart just bleeds. A couple of little checks that Cuba has is more than what my family and I received in compensation for forced labor and property theft.

    By the way, Hows that Tampa – Cuba burger barge of yours?

  • August 3, 2016 at 11:21 am
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    Whether one approves the retention of Guantanamo is a different matter from the legality of the US doing so. Secondly, it is within the rights of Governments to operate embargoes, for example, the embargoes employed against South Africa were effective.

  • August 3, 2016 at 11:15 am
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    How impertinent for you Rich Haney to assume that you know what I think. Your conceit is obviously incurable, but if you actually do wish to know my views about US history in Cuba, then read: “Cuba Lifting the Veil.” in which you will find a chapter about the US.
    Throwing as many insults as your mind can muster does not replace intelligent comment

  • August 3, 2016 at 4:39 am
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    Agreed, that can be interpreted in countless different ways. However, it’s not Cuba that maintains an economic embargo on the U.S…. and it’s not Cuba that illegally retains possession of U.S. territory. The playing field needs to be leveled first.

  • August 3, 2016 at 1:28 am
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    How about you let Moses speak for Moses? The agreement with Cuba to lease Guantanamo to the US is LEGAL. Were it not so, you can be sure that the Castros would have taken the US to court a long time ago. Was it a fair contract is a different question. I am convinced that the Batista dictatorship was as bad as the Castro dictatorship. The US is under no pressure to give back Guantanamo other than the pressure we put upon ourselves. Josefina Vidal’s negotiation skills are irrelevant.

  • August 2, 2016 at 10:43 pm
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    Cuba, a sovereign nation since 1959, has a lot of uncashed little U. S. Treasury checks but hasn’t received a penny for the strong-arm theft of plush Guantanamo Bay since 1959. Of course, Moses and Carlyle will swear to the high heavens it was legally acquired way back in 1903, shortly after the 1898 Spanish-American War left the U. S. and not Spain as the imperialist power in and over Cuba. Regarding compensation, Guantanamo Bay is Josefina Vidal’s priority and she’s a tough cookie when it comes to negotiations about compensation claims. Mafia Kingpin Meyer Lansky’s family has lodged one of the biggest claims against Revolutionary Cuba. Of course, Moses and Carlyle will insist that the Batista-Mafia leaders were as sweet and kind to Cuba as Mother Teresa would have been.

  • August 2, 2016 at 3:57 pm
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    I just wonder Terry whether that is possible. As I understand matters, the US negotiators are acting largely upon behalf of private individuals and claims. The Cuban negotiators are acting upon behalf of the State (compensation for the affect of the embargo). If it was just a matter between two states it would be much easier to call it a wash.
    Remember what Barack Obama said twice – at the press conference and during his speech at the Alicia Alonso Theatre that relaxations by the US (for which read embargo and Guantanamo) had to involve reciprocal actions by Cuba. That can be interpreted in different ways.

  • August 2, 2016 at 8:55 am
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    I say “f*ck ’em”. I wouldn’t give the Castros a díme. I will be thoroughly pissed at Obama if he pays them anything. It’s a good thing I am not at the negotiating table. But in the spirit of diplomacy, I say we call it a “wash”. They get to keep all the property they stole that isn’t worth a crap today anyway and we don’t have to hear them whine about reparations ever again. Piss-ant petty despots.

  • August 2, 2016 at 8:25 am
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    N.J., I think the only deal possible… the only deal inevitable… will be treat the whole matter of compensation as a wash. It’s time to bury the past and simply move on to bigger and better things together.

  • August 2, 2016 at 4:33 am
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    Cuba should make a quick deal with Obama before he leaves office. They won’t get a better deal.

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