Spanish push Cuba to settle old debts
Jul 13, 2015
Claims for assets seized during Castro’s Communist takeover could reach
$20bn, says lawyer
Spaniards whose property and belongings were seized when they fled from
revolutionary Cuba are seeking restitution as the country restores
diplomatic relations with the US.
“Change is underway in Cuba,” says Jordi Cabarrocas, director of an
investment fund that represents some of the Spaniards whose property was
seized. He told the New York Times that the improving atmosphere is
“very good news” for his clients’ cases.
Cabarrocas says that various assets seized from his company’s clients,
including farms, factories and warehouses, would be worth about $1.8bn
now, and that Spanish claims in Cuba overall would amount to about $20bn.
Next week, as part of Barack Obama’s “new course on Cuba”, the US and
Cuba are expected to restore full diplomatic relations with each other.
They will also re-open embassies in each other’s capitals.
Although there is no direct link between the US negotiations and the
Spanish dispute, lawyers acting for the claimants believe that Cuba is
now more receptive to international pressure.
However, a significant obstacle exists. Spain and Cuba signed an
agreement in 1986 in which Cuba agreed to pay about $40m in compensation
for seized assets over a 15-year period. The fee was settled partly in
cash and partly in goods, including tobacco.
Whether that agreement constitutes a final settlement on the matter is a
grey area, legally. Acknowledging the issue, Cabarrocas adds: “There
will be more twists and turns, but what’s important is that Spaniards
don’t miss out on the changes in Cuba.”
American citizens also lost significant assets in Cuba. According to a
2007 study by Creighton University, there are certified claims worth
around $6bn. Lawmakers are pressing the White House to look more closely
at the issue.
However, Cabarrocas insists the Spanish owners’ case for compensation is
the most compelling. “I believe we’re in a stronger position than
Americans, because we’re talking about Cuba expropriating people who
were mostly dual citizens, both Spanish and Cuban, so fully covered by
international law,” he said.
Source: Spanish push Cuba to settle old debts | The Week UK –