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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Gon Confiscates U.S. Citizen Property

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0921 2651341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221341Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4578
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000921

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, EB/IFD/OIA, AND L/CID
STATE ALSO FOR WHA/EPSC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: GON CONFISCATES U.S. CITIZEN PROPERTY

REFS: A) MANAGUA 537, B) 08 MANAGUA 1546, C) MANAGUA 902

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In March 2009, U.S. citizen Lidia Mayorga received
information that the Government of Nicaragua (GON) had confiscated
her property and offered her indemnification bonds (BPIs) as
compensation. The Attorney General's Office claims that the law
allows the GON to settle her case -- even though it is a dispute
between private parties -- because her property had been transferred
legally to the occupant. Mrs. Mayorga will not accept the
government's settlement offer and is concerned that the GON will not
afford her due proces. The GON's handling of this case is yet
another example of GON efforts to compel U.S. claimants to accept
compensation without negotiation, and use any legal mechanism at its
disposal to defend its action. It also illustrates another
troubling trend, the involvement of the Attorney General's Office in
private property disputes.

GON CONFSICATES U.S. CITIZEN PROPERTY
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In March 2009, the Attorney General's Office notified U.S.
citizen Lydia Mayorga that her property had been confiscated and she
would receive BPIs worth 395,000 cordobas, approximately $19,242, as
compensation (Ref A). Mrs. Mayorga owns an 18,244 square foot
property in an upscale neighborhood of Managua. She bought the
property in March 1992, but a religious organization claims to have
occupied it since 1979. Representatives of the Monsignor Oscar
Arnulfo Romero Spiritual Center (CEMOAR) also assert that the
Nicaraguan Real Estate Corporation (CONIBIR) sold CEMOAR the
property in 1982 and that the Nicaraguan Housing Agency (BAVINIC)
issued it a title in 1993. Between 1995 and 2002, Mrs. Mayorga
negotiated with CEMOAR to settle the property dispute, but they
never reached an agreement. During that period, Mrs. Mayorga did
not file a property claim with the government because this was a
private dispute and her land had not been confiscated by the first
Sandinista government of the 1980s.

3. (SBU) In April, Emboff raised Mrs. Mayorga's case with GON
officials. On May 5, the Attorney General's Office informed the
Embassy that Mrs. Mayorga's case had been resolved according to Law
278 (1997). GON officials explained that the law allows the
government to offer compensation to property owners whose land and
homes were transferred to beneficiaries of Laws 85 (1990) and 86
(1990), also known as the Pinata Laws (Ref B). There is no
evidence, however, that CEMOAR was a beneficiary under the Pinata
laws. [Note: These laws were passed on the eve of the departure of
the first Sandinista government to provide titles to supporters who
occupied property illegally. End note.] On July 9, the Ambassador
wrote Attorney General Hernan Estrada to seek clarification
regarding his role in the property dispute given that it was a
private matter and Mrs. Mayorga's land had not been previously
confiscated by the government.

CLAIMANT INTENDS TO KEEP FIGHTING
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) On August 21, Mrs. Mayorga's legal representative told us
that she will not accept the government's settlement offer.
Although she would like to recover her property, she is willing to
accept fair compensation for the loss of her land. Mrs. Mayorga
intends to pursue a resolution of her case with the government or in
court, but she is concerned that the GON will not afford her due
process.

COMMENT
-------

5. (SBU) The GON's confiscation of U.S. citizen property without
affording due process is a step backward in our efforts to work with
the government to resolve claims and land disputes. This case is
yet another example of the GON's efforts to compel U.S. claimants to
accept compensation without negotiation, and use any legal mechanism
at its disposal to defend its action (Ref C). It also illustrates
another troubling trend, the involvement of the Attorney General's
Office in private property disputes.

CALLAHAN

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