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Cablegate: Nicaragua: New Property Superintendent Pays Courtesy Call

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0626 0672144
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 082144Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9390
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000626

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN GSCHIFFER, EB/IFD/OIA, L/CID AND WHA/EPSC
TREASURY FOR INL MDONOVAN AND GCHRISTOPOLUS, OWH/JHOEK
STATE PASS TO USTR

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON USTR KIDE NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: NEW PROPERTY SUPERINTENDENT PAYS COURTESY CALL

REF: MANAGUA 00591

1. (SBU) Summary: Mireya Molina Torres was officially instated as
the new Property Superintendent on January 25, 2007, replacing
Alfonso Sandino. In an unexpected courtesy, Molina paid an
introductory call to the Embassy's Property Office days before.
Molina stressed to Emboffs that her goal is to demonstrate progress
on U.S. citizen property claims so as to again win a Section 527
waiver, echoing statements made by President Daniel Ortega to U.S.
officials. Molina brings a unique perspective to the job. In the
1980s, she was intimately involved in the Sandinista land
redistribution program. In the 1990s, Molina combined
professorships at local law schools with a private law practice
specializing in the privatization of rural enterprises. In 1997,
she was a member of the legal team that drafted legislation
governing extensive property issues (Law 278). More recently, she
was the legal counsel for an American citizen with a property claim.
End Summary.

Unexpected Courtesy
-------------------

2. (SBU) Mireya Molina Torres was instated as the new Property
Superintendent on January 25, 2007, according to the online version
of Gaceta, the official register of government events. Her
predecessor, Alfonso Sandino, had participated in numerous Amcit
claims resolutions. On January 18, in an unexpected courtesy,
Molina paid an introductory call to the Embassy's Property Office,
coming to the Embassy for the meeting. Molina stressed to Emboffs
that her goal was to demonstrate progress on U.S. citizen property
claims so as to gain a Section 527 waiver [to the Foreign Relations
Authorization Act (Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995)] again this year.

3. (SBU) Molina vowed to do her best to resolve outstanding claims,
and immediately began going through a list of active claims provided
by Embassy staff. At the top of the list are longstanding cases
close to resolution, but contentious in nature. Molina is familiar
with many of the cases, and the people and properties involved. She
suggested that we create a trimester work plan, focusing first on
the best documented cases. Emboffs agreed.

4. (SBU) Emboffs stressed the importance of resolving all
outstanding claims, including Army-held properties -- an area which
has proved difficult to broach. Molina confided that she has good
contacts within the Army, and that she expects to be able to make
progress in this area, too.

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) Molina's desire to make progress on U.S. citizen claims may
lend credence to statements made by President Daniel Ortega during
the past several months. Beginning in his presidential campaign,
Ortega has made a point of stating that private property rights
would be respected under his administration. In addition, Ortega
has conveyed to visiting U.S. officials his desire to resolve
outstanding U.S. citizen claims. End Comment.

Section 527
-----------

6. (U) Section 527 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act
prohibits U.S. economic assistance to or support in international
financial institutions for any country where U.S. citizens have not
received adequate or effective compensation for outstanding claims
against a government that has confiscated property owned by U.S.
citizens. The Secretary of State has issued a waiver to Section 527
for Nicaragua in each of the past 13 years. A key consideration has
been progress made in resolving outstanding claims. Of 3191 claims
subject to Section 527, 682 claims remain.

Biography: Mireya Molina Torres
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) Mireya Molina Torres brings a unique perspective to the
job. In the 1980s, she was the National Director for Land Tenure in
the Ministry of Agrarian Reform. In this capacity, she was
intimately involved in Sandinista land redistribution programs and
the issuance of land titles, especially to farmers and
cooperatives.

8. (SBU) In the 1990s, Molina combined professorships at local law
schools with her own private law practice, specializing in the
privatization of rural enterprises. In 1997, she was a member of
the legal team that drafted legislation governing extensive property
issues, including distribution of state-owned land, titling, claims
and compensation procedures (Law 278). More recently, Molina met
with Embassy staff as legal counsel for an American citizen with a
property claim in Nicaragua, proving that life, particularly in
Nicaragua, sometimes comes full circle.

TRIVELLI

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