85ºF

Claims on confiscated property in Cuba remain up in the air

As Pope Francis continues to lobby for reconciliation, some exiles want justice


MIAMI – The White House announced Friday changes to commerce, travel and investment restrictions that will take effect Monday in Cuba. But there was no mention of Cuban exiles' property claims.

The changes come as Pope Francis visits both countries this month. The U.S. Department of Commerce allows U.S. companies to do business on the Communist island and hire Cuban workers. While Congress has yet to lift the embargo, the U.S. Department of the Treasury lifted fund limits on financial transactions.

Fidel Castro's failed redistribution of wealth left many victims and some of them live in the United States. Miami attorney Rosa Vega holds deeds to properties in Cuba that the government seized after Castro's socialist revolution.

CLAIMS AGAINST CUBA

The U.S. Department of Justice's Cuban claims program completed claims July 6, 1972 and July 15, 2005. The U.S. Secretary of State has the two claims for eventual use in negotiation of a lump-sum claims settlement agreement with the Cuban government. Amount of awards (principal) - $1,902,202,284.95

- Cuban Electric Co. - $ 267.57

- United Fruit Sugar - $85.5 million

- Exxon Corp. - $71.61 million

-Texaco Inc. - $56.20 million

"They are going to negotiate with our money," Vega said. "That's basically what's going to happen."

Local 10 News talked to Josefina Vidal, Cuba's lead diplomat, in Havana.

"We will begin speaking about claims ... we will listen to the minister and we will put our claims too on the table," Vidal said.

The U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission certified 5,913 claims out of 8,821 claims. One in 10 of the claims is from an individual owner, according to USAID

"It has nothing to do with the money. It has to do with what is right," Vega said. "Everything was taken from the Cuban people."

Follow Local 10 News' Glenna Milberg on Twitter @GlennaOn10


About the Authors: