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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Gon Dismisses 85 More U.S. Claims

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0564/01 1281707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071707Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2560
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000564

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: GON DISMISSES 85 MORE U.S. CLAIMS

REF: A) MANAGUA 173, B) MANAGUA 287, C) MANAGUA 424,
D) MANAGUA 274, E) MANAGUA 0106, F) MANAGUA 0002, G) 07 MANAGUA
2581, H) 01 MANAGUA 2313, I) 04 MANAGUA 2442, J) 04 MANAGUA 2324, K)
02 MANAGUA 877

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) During the April 24 monthly Working Group meeting on
property issues, Econoff discussed Government of Nicaragua (GON)
plans to dismiss 84 more U.S. citizen claims. The head of the
Office of Assessment and Indemnification reported that the GON
recently decided that any claims dismissed under Decrees 3 and 38
(Somoza family and associates) will not receive compensation.
Econoff raised concerns about a 30-day time limit imposed by the GON
on 42 U.S. claimants to accept the GON's final settlement proposal
to resolve their claims via indemnification bonds (BPIs) without
providing detailed information about the offers. GON officials'
newfound spirit of cooperation has quickly dissipated, but we will
continue to press for cooperation, flexibility, fairness and
transparency in resolving outstanding U.S. claims.

GON DISMISSES 84 NEW U.S. CITIZEN CLAIMS
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) During the April 24 monthly Property Working Group meeting,
Econoff met with 2 officials from the National Confiscations Review
Commission (CNRC), and the head of the Office of Assessment and
Indemnification (OCI) to discuss 84 claims that according to letters
dated February 26 and March 31 from Attorney General Hernan Estrada
to the Ambassador, the GON intends to dismiss under Anti-Somoza
Decrees 3/1979 and 38/1979 (Refs A-B). Ruth Zapata, the head of
OCI, said Attorney General Hernan Estrada recently determined that
any claims dismissed under Decrees 3 and 38 will not receive
compensation [Note: We have requested a formal explanation of this
new policy. End Note].

3. (SBU) Econoff asked whether Estrada is still exploring legal
options that would allow some U.S. citizens to challenge the
application of these decrees to their claims (Ref C). CNRC official
Alfonso Solorzano explained the new policy does not authorize his
agency or OCI the authority to review these claims. Solorzano
suggested that the Ambassador and Estrada might come to an
understanding as to allowing claimants to defend their status.

"LET ME GIVE YOU AN OFFER YOU CAN'T REFUSE"
-------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) An April 15 letter from the Attorney General to the
Ambassador listed 42 U.S. claims ready for final settlement, pending
additional paperwork and claimant signatures. The letter stated
that claimants had 30 days to accept the GON's offer of compensation
or the GON would close their cases [Note: On April 24, the
Ambassador received a letter from Estrada reiterating that U.S.
claimants had 30 days, or until May 16, to settle the 42 claims or
the GON would close their cases. End Note.] Econoff asked Zapata
to explain why claimants were granted only 30 days; Zapata responded
that claimants had been notified to settle their claims but they
refused to do so. She added that the GON will not meet with
claimants to discuss the terms of their final settlement offers.

U.S. CLAIMANTS UNHAPPY WITH SETTLEMENT OFFERS
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Upon receipt of the April 15 letter listing 42 claims ready
for final settlement, the Property Office managed to contact most of
the claimants to inform them of the opportunity to resolve their
cases. Several U.S. claimants expressed unhappiness with the terms
of their final settlements, complaining that the GON's offer was not
fair. Some declared they will not accept the GON's offer if they do
not receive fair market value for their properties.

6. (SBU) Decree No. 51/1992 requires OCI to determine the value of a
property based on its cadastral records. Many U.S. claimants argue
that the GON should consider improvements to their property. While
the previous Chamorro, Aleman, and Bolanos administrations
cooperated with claimants to determine their final settlement
offers, current Nicaraguan law does not require the GON to
compensate claimants based on fair market value.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) The GON's newfound spirit of cooperation following the
Ambassador's February 26 meeting (Ref D) with Estrada has
dissipated. On three occasions in April, the Attorney General's
Office did not respond to our request for a meeting with Estrada to
discuss U.S. property claims. Moreover, the GON's refusal to meet
with claimants, adversely affects our efforts to resolve cases. We
will continue to press the GON for cooperation, flexibility,
fairness, and transparency in resolving claims as we enter the final
stretches of the 2007-2008 Section 527 waiver year.

TRIVELLI

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