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Saturday, July 30, 2016

U.S. and Cuba agree to meet more to expedite claims process

U.S. and Cuba agree to meet more to expedite claims process
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@miamiherald.com

After a gap of nearly eight months, the United States and Cuba returned
to the negotiating table this week on claims that both sides have
against each other and entered a more "substantive" phase of
discussions, a senior State Department official said Friday.

Both sides presented more details of their claims — far higher on the
Cuban side than the American side — and discussed methods they had both
used in settling claims with other countries during a meeting Thursday
in Washington D.C.

The United States, said the official, expressed its desire to resolve
the claims issue "as quickly as possible."

The two sides had their first meeting on claims last December in Havana.
The official said both sides expressed interest in meeting more
frequently and in resolving their claims in a "mutually satisfactory
manner."

THE UNITED STATES IS SEEKING A SETTLEMENT ON MORE THAN $1.9 BILLION, NOW
AROUND $8 BILLION INCLUDING INTEREST, IN CERTIFIED CLAIMS FOR THE SEIZED
PROPERTY OF U.S. CITIZENS AND CORPORATIONS.

The United States is seeking a settlement on more than $1.9 billion, now
around $8 billion including interest, in certified claims for the seized
property of U.S. citizens and corporations. It also has put on the table
a much smaller amount of U.S. government claims and about $2.2 billion
in unsatisfied U.S. court judgments against the Cubans.

All told, there are 5,913 certified claims for sugar mills, cattle
ranches, utilities, corporate holdings, homes, and other items.

But Cuba claims the United States also owes it billions in reparations
for the economic damage caused by the embargo as well as damages
resulting from events such as the Bay of Pigs invasion (176 deaths and
more than 300 Cubans wounded), the 1976 bombing that killed all 73
passengers of Cubana de Aviacion flight 455, and deadly U.S.-sponsored
incursions on the island.

The U.S. official said the Cuban side outlined Cuban court judgments in
which the United States was found liable for human and economic damages.
Cuba is seeking human damages of $181 billion and $121 billion for
damages related to the embargo. But the official indicated both totals
could go higher.

The Cuban government also wants to negotiate on an unspecified amount of
blocked assets.

When the United States normalized relations with Vietnam, claims were
resolved in a bilateral agreement providing for a lump sum payment.

But at this stage in the negotiations with Cuba, there is no preference
for a lump sum, payments over time, or another solution. With the long
and complicated history between the United States and Cuba and with the
embargo still in effect, "it's not clear there's an absolutely
comparable situation," said the official.

Source: U.S. and Cuba agree to meet more to expedite claims process | In
Cuba Today - http://www.incubatoday.com/news/article92583522.html
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