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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Gon to Resolve Property Claims Within Two Years

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2615/01 3522201
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182201Z DEC 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1837
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 002615

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: GON TO RESOLVE PROPERTY CLAIMS WITHIN TWO YEARS

REF: A) MANAGUA 2324, B) MANAGUA 2442, C) MANAGUA 2494, D) MANAGUA
2006

SUMMARY


1. (SBU) During a December 10 meeting with the DCM, Property
Superintendent Yara Perez made clear the Government of Nicaragua's
intent to resolve U.S. citizen property claims and other claims via
its own timeline and criteria. Perez repeated her allegations that
some U.S. citizen claimants lacked evidence for their cases and that
they had engaged in "improprieties" to gain compensation from
previous governments, but she failed to provide evidence to support
her accusations. She clarified that the GON will prioritize the
claims of those who were U.S. citizens before the Sandinista
revolution over those who became U.S. citizens after the revolution.
The DCM pressed for more communication between the Embassy Property
Office and the GON, but Perez only committed to meet directly with
U.S. citizen claimants. We will continue to pressure all levels of
the GON to engage with us constructively to resolve the outstanding
property claims of all U.S. citizens. End Summary.

GON INTENT ON RESOLVING CLAIMS BY ITS OWN TIMETABLE...


2. (SBU) In his December 10 meeting with Property Superintendent
Yara Perez Colero, the DCM emphasized that the resolution of U.S.
citizen property claims is an important issue in our bilateral
relations that receives significant attention at the highest levels
of the United States Government (USG). A key consideration in the
USG's annual decision whether to waive Section 527 of the Foreign
Relations Authorization Act of 1994 and 1995--which prohibits USG
assistance to foreign governments that have not compensated U.S.
citizens for confiscated property--has been the demonstrated effort
the Government of Nicaragua (GON) has put forth to resolve
outstanding claims. The DCM noted that the Government of Nicaragua
(GON) has resolved only nine cases so far this waiver year, compared
to 38 cases during the 2006-07 waiver year and 86 cases during the
2005-06 waiver year.

3. (SBU) Perez said it is the GON's intention to resolve all
remaining property claims within two years. She explained that with
President Ortega taking office in January 2007, officials in the
National Confiscations Review Commission (CNRC) and the Office of
Assessment and Indemnification (OCI) have needed time to review past
claims. Perez acknowledged that the Embassy Property Office has
registered over 600 outstanding property claims, to which the Office
of the Attorney General has given priority. She claimed that the
CNRC and OCI have worked on 85 Embassy-registered cases this year
and will pick up the pace in 2008. The DCM cautioned that some
claims require more time to resolve and that the GON should give
these cases the necessary attention, without imposing an arbitrary
time limit, to ensure a fair resolution.

...AND ACCORDING TO ITS OWN STANDARDS


4. (SBU) The DCM asked Perez to explain how the GON arrives at
so-called "no ha lugar" decisions. Perez said the GON rejects
claims when claimants (a) cannot prove they had owned the property
in question, (b) cannot prove that the GON had ever expropriated the
property, and/or (c) did not provide the necessary paperwork to
settle a claim. She noted that some U.S. citizen claimants have not
provided any information in the last 8-10 years, and that these
inactive claims will be closed. In addition, Perez alleged that
some U.S. claimants had received more compensation than they
deserved because they had overvalued their assets. In other cases,
some U.S. citizen claimants had recovered their property and still
managed to receive indemnification bonds (BPIs), constituting double
restitution. Perez cautioned that the Ortega administration would
not tolerate corruption and would resolve cases according to the
law.

5. (SBU) The DCM responded that these are complex, sensitive cases
that require additional time and cooperation between the Embassy
Property Office and the GON to resolve. The DCM asked Perez to
provide information about dismissed claims and evidence of alleged
improprieties to the Embassy Property Office. The DCM reiterated
the importance of more communication and cooperation between the
Property Office and GON not only to solve claims, but to help
provide explanations about dismissed cases to U.S. citizen
claimants, the Department of State, and the U.S. Congress.

GON DIFFERENTIATES BETWEEN AMCITS WHO WERE CITIZENS BEFORE AND AFTER
THE SANDINISTA REVOLUTION

6. (SBU) The DCM challenged the GON's new policy of prioritizing the
resolution of claims by U.S.-born citizen over those of naturalized
U.S. citizen claims. Perez reiterated that the claims of those who
were U.S. citizens before the Sandinista revolution would be
prioritized over those who became U.S. citizens after the
revolution. She argued unconvincingly that prioritizing the claims
of those who were U.S. citizens before 1979 was an administrative
decision and not a policy change. The DCM answered that the U.S.
Government would continue to press for the resolution of all U.S.
citizen claims Note: This preference based on citizenship at the
time of the revolution is the latest iteration of a policy that
first prioritized those who were U.S. citizens at the time of
expropriation over those who gained citizenship after expropriation.
Perez later changed this to prioritizing natural born U.S. citizens
over naturalized U.S. citizens (Ref A). End Note.
MORE CONTACT TO RESOLVE CLAIMS


7. (SBU) Throughout the meeting, the DCM pressed Perez to
communicate more frequently with the Property Office to facilitate
the resolution of claims. The DCM noted that the USG and GON share
a mutual interest in resolving Embassy-registered U.S. citizen
claims. He emphasized that to achieve this goal, it is important
that the Embassy Property Office and GON work together to ensure
that cases are resolved in a fair and transparent manner. Perez was
reluctant to commit to direct contact with the Property Office. She
was willing to meet directly with U.S. citizen claimants. The DCM
emphasized that unless the Embassy and GON work together to resolve
these outstanding claims, these cases will remain a point of
contention in our bilateral relations.

COMMENT


8. (SBU) The DCM's meeting with Property Superintendent allowed us
to convey to the GON that the Embassy will remain fully committed to
resolving U.S. citizen property claims. In our recent interactions
with GON officials, they have emphasized that the Ortega
administration is intent on closing all remaining property cases
within two years. As we move toward 2008 and the midpoint of the
waiver year, we will press at all levels of the GON to engage with
us constructively to resolve the outstanding property claims of all
U.S. citizens. End Comment.

TRIVELLI

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