28-29 July 2016
Final Opportunity For U.S. Claimants To Force Negotiations?
No “Details” In 233 Days
Two Meetings In 599 Days
A Wasted 18 Months?
Let The Claimants Negotiate Directly?
Representatives from the government of the Republic of Cuba, United States Department of State, United States Department of Justice and United States Department of the Treasury will meet in Washington DC, on 28 July 2016 and 29 July 2016 to discuss the 5,913 claims registered with the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC), which is under the administration of the United States Department of Justice. This will be the second meeting.
Important for this meeting and discussion to transform, and quickly, into a negotiation. There is no more time for the airing of grievances and rehashing of positions.
This is a moment for PowerPoint presentations, realistic expectations, compromise, acceptance, and attorneys to draft agreements.
The Obama Administration has professed that a settlement of the certified claims is a priority- a top priority. Yet, during a 20 July 2016 background briefing by a senior official of the United States Department of State, it was clear settlement negotiations have not commenced- and many of the certified claimants were concerned:
REPORTER QUESTION (Miami Herald): My question has to do with the property rights issue. I wonder if you could give us any details there. And two, whether Cuba still has outstanding property rights issues with any other countries, and is there a target number we’re looking for, like settling on 20 cents on the dollar, 10 cents on the dollar, whatever?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: As I mentioned, property claims is one of our top priorities. We had an initial – or first-round meeting with the Cubans on this issue last December in Havana. We will have a second round of talks here in Washington at the end of this month. We certainly have not laid out any kind of – the details which you’ve described. That will emerge from the negotiations, but we’re committed to pursuing all of the registered claims, as well as other claims that U.S. citizens have against Cuba. So it’s a process. We had a good round last December. We hope to make further progress this month in moving forward on the issue.
From one representative of certified claimants, “If two meetings in 599 days about an issue defined as ‘a priority,’ I cringe at the prospect of learning how the State Department defines an issue that is not ‘a priority,’ would it be 1,000 days?” The representative added, “If they can’t do better than they’ve done so far, the State Department should stand aside and authorize a claimant committee to directly negotiate a settlement.”