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Cablegate: Attorney General Takes Lead On Property Claims

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2324/01 2881644
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151644Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1495
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 002324

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: ATTORNEY GENERAL TAKES LEAD ON PROPERTY CLAIMS

REF: A) MANAGUA 2006

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Government of Nicaragua (GON) officials told Econoffs in a
September 27 monthly meeting on property issues that new
administrative procedures for resolving property disputes formally
incorporate Attorney General Estrada in the process. They assert
these revised procedures will streamline claims processing so that
all cases may be resolved within the next two years. GON officials
also reported they would prioritize claims of those who were Amcits
at the time their property was seized, complained that our registry
includes many cases already resolved, and alleged that many Amcits
had engaged in improprieties in pursuing compensation from the
previous government. For the first time during three working level
meetings, participants also discussed several individual Amcit cases
in detail. End Summary.

NEW GON PLAN TO RESOLVE PROPERTY DISPUTES
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) During the September 27 monthly working level meeting on
property claims with Econoffs, Attorney General Hernan Estrada and
newly-appointed Property Superintendent Yara Perez Calero, who
replaced recently-fired Mireya Molina Torres (septel), described
changes to the administrative procedures for resolving property
claims. Perez, following Estrada's brief introductory remarks and
subsequent departure, suggested that these administrative changes
would allow the GON to press forward with its plans to resolve all
outstanding property claims within the next two years.

3. (U) Perez explained that Presidential Decree 93-2000 issued in
September 2007 reorganizes the Technical Assessment Council for the
Assessment and Indemnification Office (DCI) and incorporates the
Attorney General (or his delegate) and the president of the National
Confiscation Review Commission (CNRC) as members. The other members
of the council are the director of the DCI, the head of the
Cadastral Assessment Office, an executive secretary, and officials
from the Ministry of Finance and Government Accounting Office. The
Attorney General will chair the council, which will be responsible
for resolving property claims disputes and other related issues.
Perez added that the presidential decree also creates a Technical
Legal Committee chaired by the Attorney General, which reviews
disputes that the Technical Assessment Council is unable to resolve.


4. (U) Perez told Econoffs that the GON will close its notification
office in the Nicaraguan Consulate in Miami, Florida, noting that
claimants are legally required to provide a Nicaraguan address when
they file a claim. Perez said that closing the office would
eliminate the unnecessary cost that the government incurs by
maintaining this service in the United States.

GON PUSHES FOR USG ACQUIESCENCE ON RECURRING ISSUES
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) Throughout the meeting, Perez sought USG acquiescence on a
number of issues raised in last month's meeting, including GON
prioritization of U.S.-born AmCits (Ref A). Econoff reiterated that
the United States does not differentiate between those who were
citizens at the time of seizure and those who were not, and that we
will continue to press for resolution of all Embassy registered
cases. Econoff also highlighted that Nicaraguan law establishes one
procedure for the resolution of property cases, whether or not the
claimant is Nicaraguan.

6. (SBU) Perez alleged that some claimants had received double
compensation, or at least more compensation then they should have,
because they had overvalued their assets. During a ten-minute
monologue, she lambasted Amcit claimants for their immoral,
unethical practices in collusion with corrupt officials of the
former Bolanos government. Econoff agreed that corruption of any
kind should not be tolerated, but cautioned Perez against making
broad generalizations about Amcit claimants. He also asked her to
share evidence she may have regarding such practices. [Comment: GON
officials previously notified us of six cases they allege involved
fraud on the part of claimants. Three of the cases were not
registered with the Embassy, and the other three showed no evidence
of fraud. End Comment.]

7. (SBU) Econoff told GON officials that there remain 677
registered, unresolved property claims belonging to 295 American
citizens. He emphasized that the USG looks forward to working with
the GON to resolve all pending claims in a fair and prompt manner.
Econoff reminded GON officials of the Embassy's offer to facilitate
communication with claimants to finalize 55 cases for which the GON
claims to have prepared resolutions. Perez said her staff would
prepare a letter for Attorney General Estrada to sign detailing the
55 cases so that these cases may move to final resolution.

COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) For the first time during three working level meetings,
Econoffs and GON officials discussed specific cases. Perez said
that she and her staff would pay more attention to these and other
Amcit claims. Perez asserted, however, that communication on other
cases should be delivered in writing to Estrada. This procedure
effectively makes our monthly meetings the only channel through
which we can call attention to specific cases. This approach stands
in sharp contrast to the collegial, informal relationship between
Econoffs and the GON during the Bolanos administration, when an
average of 159 cases were resolved per calendar year. The current
government has resolved just seven cases in nine months. We
continue our efforts to establish day-to-day working relations with
the Property Superintendent. End Comment.

BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: PROPERTY SUPERINTENDENT PEREZ
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (SBU) Ms. Yara Perez Calero is from Esteli, a northern Nicaraguan
city, capital of the department which carries the same name, and an
FSLN stronghold. In previous GON administrations, she held a
position similar to that of district attorney for the northern
departments of Esteli, Jinotega, and Matagalpa. In September 2006
she was appointed as head of the Property Registry for the
Department of Matagalpa. After the inauguration of the Sandinista
government in January 2007, Perez was appointed as Deputy Attorney
General until assuming her current position. In some local circles
she is rumored to be a hardline Sandinista supporter.

TRIVELLI

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