Earlier today, President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and an easing of economic and travel restrictions on Cuba. But a critical issue that remains between the two States which was not discussed today by the President is the matter of compensation to United States’ citizens (individuals and companies) whose property was confiscated without compensation by Cuba when Fidel Castro came into power.
The United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission has completed two programs adjudicating these claims for uncompensated takings. The first program, which concerned confiscations that took place between January 1, 1959 and October 16, 1964, was completed on July 6, 1972. In this program, the Commission adjudicated a total of 8,816 claims, out of which a total of 5,911 were determined to be compensable. The second program was much smaller, and concerned confiscations that took place after May 1, 1967. Here, awards were issued in the case of two claims.
The adjudicated total principal value of the claims is over $1.8 billion. Cuba has never paid, however. President Obama noted today that the embargo against Cuba has been codified, and that Congressional action would be required to lift it. Congress and the White House should be mindful of these unsatisfied claims if and when they move forward on lifting the embargo or a further normalization of relations.