A Caribbean Insight publication

14 December 2015

Issue number 852

Talks begin on resolving US claims

Cuba and the United States have held their first exchange on registered US assets that were nationalised in the early years of the Cuban revolution and Cuban counter-claims for compensation in relation to the US trade embargo.

‘The meeting is the first step in what we expect to be a long and complex process, but the United States views the resolution of outstanding claims as a top priority for normalisation,’ the US State Department said in a statement.

The US has said that it is seeking US$1.9bn in respect of the expropriated properties of about 6,000 US citizens, which amounts to about US$8bn at current prices. Cuba said that from its perspective, the discussions also involve the economic damage caused by the US trade embargo. It has put the damages to its economy at US$121bn at current values and has claimed another US$181bn for the ‘human damage’ done by a half-century of economic sanctions.

Cuba has previously reached a settlement with owners from other countries. The Cuban government has always recognised the US claims but it cut off negotiations in response to the decision by former US President, Dwight Eisenhower, to suspend Cuba’s sugar quota in 1960.

The December 8 meeting in Havana was led by Abelardo Moreno Fernandez, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Cuba, and for US by Mary McLeod, the Principal Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State.

At the meeting the delegations exchanged initial information regarding outstanding compensation settlements between both states and agreed to exchange information and to meet again.

A Cuban report said that the meeting took place within a respectful and professional atmosphere and effectively confirmed that Cuba saw resolution of the issue as being one of mutual compensation.