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Cablegate: Nicaraguan Government Promises Better Transparency In

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0953/01 2731835
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301835Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4606
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000953

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, EB/IFD/OIA, AND L/CID
STATE ALSO FOR WHA/EPSC
STATE PASS TO USTR
TREASURY FOR INL AND OWH

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON USTR KIDE NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUAN GOVERNMENT PROMISES BETTER TRANSPARENCY IN
ADVANCING U.S. CITIZEN CLAIMANTS

REFS: A) MANAGUA 537, B) MANAGUA 706, C) MANAGUA 902, D) 02 MANAGUA
877

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) During the September 24 Property Working Group
meeting, Government of Nicaragua (GON) promised better transparency
on U.S. claims that have exhausted their appeals in the
administrative process. Econoff pressed officials for more
information on U.S. claims that were allegedly not filed with the
National Confiscations Review Commission. GON officials asserted
that the case of U.S. citizen Juan Barreto, whose 28 properties are
under the control of the Nicaraguan Army, is close to resolution
pending receipt of one document. Econoff reminded officials that
the Embassy advocates on behalf of all U.S. citizen property cases
regardless of whether they fall under Section 527 of the Foreign
Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995. We will
work with government officials to address Attorney General Hernan
Estrada's concerns regarding some Section 527 claims, but this
cooperation requires more transparency on how the government
determines settlement offers.

CLAIMS THAT HAVE EXHAUSTED APPEALS
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 24, Econoff held the monthly Property Working
Group meeting with Ruth Zapata, Head of the Office of Assessment and
Quantification (OCI); Jeanette Garcia, President of the National
Confiscations Review Commission (CNRC); Magally Bravo, the Attorney
General4s Executive Coordinator for Property Issues; Alfonso
Solorzano, CNRC member; and Rebeca Zuniga, Coordinator of the Office
of U.S. Citizen Claims. Econoff asked GON officials for more
information on the status of the list of 19 claimants who could no
longer pursue their claims through the administrative process. He
explained that several claimants had not received notification that
they had exhausted their administrative appeals, or that the
government had published notice that their claims were resolved in
the Official Gazette and deposited compensation in escrow (Ref A).


3. (SBU) Zuniga responded that she would meet with U.S. claimants to
discuss their claims and settlement offers. Econoff urged her to
provide clear, detailed explanations, as she did in the case of
U.S. citizen Domingo Calero (Ref B). He stated that the lack of
transparency in the settlement process undermines our joint efforts
to work with claimants to advance their claims.

UPDATE ON ADMINISTRATIVE DISMISSALS
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Econoff provided an update on the revised list of 24 U.S.
claimants whose claims the GON dismissed for administrative reasons;
some lack of proof of ownership and/or confiscation of the property
in question, and other claims were never filed with the CNRC (Ref
C). He explained that claimants were reviewing their files to find
documents that demonstrated the legitimacy of their claims. He
noted that on September 21 the Ambassador wrote to Attorney General
Estrada to provide him information that the Embassy Property Office
had on file for each claim. Econoff asked GON officials to provide
more time as claimants continue searching for their documents.


STATUS OF THE BARRETO CASE
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Econoff raised the case of U.S. citizen Juan Barreto, whose
28 properties are under control of the Nicaraguan Army (Ref D).
Zuniga said the only document pending was the Barreto family's
corporate charter. She underscored that the GON was eager to
resolve this case.

DEFENDING ALL U.S. CITIZEN PROPERTY RIGHTS
------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Solorzano stated that the GON is working only on Section
527 waiver claims and asked the Embassy not to raise non-waiver
cases. Garcia added that the USG and GON should focus our efforts
on these waiver claims to maximize our time during the working group
meetings. Econoff reminded them that the Embassy advocates on
behalf of all U.S. citizen property claims regardless whether they
fall under Section 527. He emphasized that all U.S. claimants
should be afforded equal due process to defend their property
rights.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) GON officials are under pressure from Attorney General
Estrada to pursue only his agenda for U.S. citizen claims during our
monthly working group meetings. We told officials that we will work
with them to address Estrada's concerns for some claims, as long as
there is more transparency on how the government determines
settlement offers. So far, we sense that Estrada is attempting to
bully us and U.S. claimants to accept settlement offers without
negotiation.

CALLAHAN

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