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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Property Superintendent Rejects Claims for A

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2581/01 3472042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 132042Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1804
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 002581

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, EB/IFD/OIA AND L/CID
STATE FOR WHA/EPSC
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USTR
TREASURY FOR INL AND OWH

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON USTR KIDE NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: PROPERTY SUPERINTENDENT REJECTS CLAIMS FOR A
LACK OF EVIDENCE

REF: A) MANAGUA 2442 B) MANAGUA 2324 C) MANAGUA 2494 D) MANAGUA

2006


1. (SBU) Summary: During the November 29 monthly Working Group
meeting on property issues, Government of Nicaragua (GON) officials
gave Econoffs a list of 8 American citizen claims allegedly resolved
and 18 claims rejected for "lack of evidence." Property
Superintendent Yara Perez repeated assertions made at previous
meetings that many American citizen claimants had engaged in
"improprieties" in pursuing compensation from previous governments,
but again failed to present evidence. The GON continues to refuse
our requests to meet on specific claims. GON officials appear
intent to resolve American citizen claims according to their own
criteria and timetable, and limit our involvement in the process.
End Summary.


GON PRESENTS FIRST LIST OF REJECTED AMERICAN CITIZEN CLAIMS


2. (SBU) During the November 29 monthly Working Group meeting on
property claims with Econoffs, Property Superintendent Yara Perez
Calero, three officials from the National Confiscations Review
Commission (CNRC), and the head of the Office of Assessment and
Indemnification (OCI) gave Econoffs a list of 26 cases that the GON
considered "resolved." According to the list provided, the GON
settled 8 cases by compensating claimants with indemnification bonds
(BPIs). Following through on a stated objective in the October 25
Working Group meeting (Ref A), GON officials said that they had
rejected the 18 claims because the claimants (a) could not prove
they had owned the property in question, (b) could not prove that
the GON had ever expropriated the property, and/or (c) had failed to
present the necessary documentation.

3. (SBU) Econoffs protested the CNRC's dismissal of the 18 American
citizen claims, arguing that the prospect of dismissal should have
been discussed first in the Working Group, which is the forum for
such issues, not summarily dismissing them. Econoff asked Perez for
more time to review the cases and contact American citizen about the
pending dismissal of their claims. Perez told Econoff that once
notified, American citizen claimants have ten days to appeal the
decision to the CNRC. Claimants who have not designated an official
address in Nicaragua have ten days from publication in the local
newspapers of the CNRC's decision to appeal. American citizen
claimants may also appeal to the Attorney General's Office. If
rejected, American citizen claimants may elect to pursue their case
in court.

4. (SBU) Econoffs pressed Perez for more time to review the GON's
decisions to dismiss claims. Perez assured us that she would give
us time to review the 18 dismissals, but that our review would not
be an open-ended process. Econoff asserted that many claims require
patience and flexibility on the part of the GON because they are
complex and we need time to review the cases with the claimants.


GON ALLEGES CORRUPTION


5. (SBU) Throughout the meeting, Perez and other GON officials
alleged that some claimants had received "more compensation than
they deserved" because they had overvalued their assets. Perez also
alleged that, in some cases, American citizen claimants had
recovered their property and still managed to receive BPIs,
constituting double restitution. She lambasted the previous
Chamorro, Bolanos and Aleman administrations for "fostering"
lawyer-mafia networks to manipulate OCI and CNRC decisions in favor
of their clients. The Ortega administration would resolve cases
according to the law, Perez asserted. Econoff asked Perez to share
any information that she has on such practices, and cautioned about
generalizing without showing any evidence (Ref B).


GON REFUSES TO INCREASE ITS INTERACTION TO RESOLVE CASES OR DISCUSS
POLICY MATTERS


6. (SBU) Econoff told Perez that the Embassy's Property Office
wanted to increase the frequency of our meetings on an informal
basis with GON officials to resolve the 675 registered American
citizen claims. Econoff explained that unless the Embassy and GON
work together to resolve these outstanding cases, it will remain a
drag on resources for both sides and a point of contention in our
bilateral relationship. Perez said additional meetings were not
necessary and would only interfere with the GON's ability to work on
claims. However, Perez was open to meeting directly with American
citizen claimants to discuss their claims. Econoff welcomed this
offer, but emphasized that the Embassy must also be an integral part
of this process to ensure that cases are resolved in a fair and
transparent manner for American citizen claimants.

7. (SBU) Until recently, the GON had also been unwilling to meet our
DCM to discuss policy concerns related to the resolution of property
occasions. On three occasions, the Embassy Property Office
requested meetings for the DCM with Property Superintendent Perez
and/or Attorney General Hernan Estrada to discuss policy statements
made by Perez about the prioritization of cases for natural-born
American citizens over those of naturalized American citizens, and
about plans to summarily dismiss Embassy-registered claims
(paragraphs 2-4). The DCM finally met with Perez on December 10 to
discuss these and other issues (septel).

8. (SBU) Comment: GON officials seek to "resolve" Embassy-registered
American citizen claims by any means possible and according to their
own timeline/strategy, and they want to limit the Embassy's
involvement in the process. On several occasions during the
meeting, Property Superintendent Perez said the GON will resolve all
property claims within 18-24 months, reiterating again the stated
goal of the Ortega administration to wrap up all cases, including
American citizen claims, within two years (Ref C). Of concern to us
is that while the administrative process accelerates, GON officials
want to limit their engagement with the Embassy as much as possible
so that it can resolve American citizen claims according to their
own criteria. We will make clear to this administration that unless
the GON works with us to resolve Embassy-registered cases, property
claims will inevitably become a more contentious issue in our
bilateral relationship. End Comment.

TRIVELLI

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