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Cablegate: Nicaragua: 2007-2008 Action Plan to Resolve U.S. Citizen

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2494/01 3272031
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 232031Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1698
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 002494

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: 2007-2008 ACTION PLAN TO RESOLVE U.S. CITIZEN
PROPERTY CLAIMS

REF: A) MANAGUA 2324 B) MANAGUA 2006 C) MANAGUA 2376

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) During the current waiver year, the GON has logged the
poorest performance of any Nicaraguan administration since the U.S.
Congress passed the FY1994-95 Foreign Relations Authorization Act,
with its provisions on expropriation cases contained in Section 527.
Post has developed an action plan to reengage the Government of
Nicaragua regarding the resolution of U.S. citizen property claims.
The plan incorporates the following actions: a) seek GON concurrence
with USG expectations for the 2007-08 waiver year; b) review
progress in January 2008; c) improve outreach to U.S. citizen
claimants; and d) clarify the GON's plan to resolve all property
claims in two years. Implementation of the action plan will remind
the GON that the resolution of U.S. citizen property claims is a
central issue in the U.S.-Nicaragua bilateral relationship.

CHALLENGES FOR THE 2007-2008 WAIVER YEAR
-------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) During the first ten months of the Sandinista
administration, the Government of Nicaragua (GON) has resolved only
seven Embassy-registered property claims, five of which linked to
the same U.S. citizen. Local courts have settled two claims for two
U.S. citizens. These results stand in sharp contrast to the close
working relationship we enjoyed with the GON during the Bolanos
administration, when an average of 159 cases were resolved per
calendar year.

3. (SBU) We have been working to reengage the GON on outstanding
U.S. citizen claims, but have been hampered by limitations on the
number of working-level meetings placed on us by Attorney General
Hernan Estrada. At the monthly working group meeting on October 25,
Property Superintendent Yara Perez Perez again raised policy issues
related to GON insistence that the cases of natural-born U.S.
citizens be prioritized over those of naturalized U.S. citizens.
Other issues complicating our efforts include frequent staffing
changes at the Office of the Property Superintendent; infighting
within the FSLN over property disputes; and, the GON's ongoing
review of claims resolutions issued by the Chamorro, Aleman and
Bolanos administrations. Refs A, B, and C provide additional
information on these issues.

ACTION PLAN
-----------

4. (SBU) Given these challenges, the Embassy's Property Office has
developed the following action plan to hopefully nudge the GON back
on track for the 2007-08 waiver year to resolve Embassy-registered
U.S. citizen property claims:

a) Seek GON concurrence with USG expectations for the 2007-08 waiver
year: With the support of the Bureau of Legal Affairs, we will
provide GON officials with in-depth explanations of Section 527 of
the 1994 and 1995 Foreign Relations Authorization Act. We will also
discuss international and Nicaraguan law as it relates to the
protection of property rights, and press for claims resolution. We
will reemphasize the importance of the monthly working group meeting
as a regular forum for the GON and Embassy to resolve property
claims, but stress that this event should not preclude day-to-day
exchanges to move cases forward. Along these lines, the Ambassador
told Foreign Minister Samuel Santos on November 15 that he was
concerned by the lack of GON progress on claims resolution in recent
months.

b) Review progress in January 2008: The Ambassador will propose a
meeting with Attorney General Hernan Estrada in January to discuss
mid-year progress, assess a full year of the Ortega Administration
in this area, and propose benchmarks for the remainder of the waiver
year (The waiver began on August 1, 2007, and ends July 31, 2008).


c) Improve outreach to U.S. claimants: The Embassy's Property Office
will update and modify its database to better track
Embassy-registered U.S. citizen claims. The office will reach out
to claimants with whom there has been little contact in the last
three years to determine the status of their claims. The Property
Office will confer with the Bureau of Legal Affairs on next steps.

d) Clarify the GON's plan to resolve all property claims in two
years: The Embassy's Property Office will engage GON officials on
their stated goal to resolve all outstanding property claims in two
years. We are concerned that if the GON terminates its

administrative process for settling claims, U.S. citizens will have
only a corrupt and inefficient court system through which to pursue
their claims.

COMMENT
-------

5. (SBU) At the very least, implementation of this action plan will
send a clear message to the GON that the resolution of U.S. citizen
property claims remains a central issue in the U.S.-Nicaragua
bilateral relationship. During the current waiver year, the GON has
logged the poorest performance of any Nicaraguan administration
since the U.S. Congress passed the FY1994-95 Foreign Relations
Authorization Act.

TRIVELLI

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