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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Gon Seeks Better Cooperation with U.S. Citizen Claimants

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0190/01 0331547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021540Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0606
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000190

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON CASC KIDE NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: GON SEEKS BETTER COOPERATION WITH U.S. CITIZEN CLAIMANTS

SUMMARY

-------

1. (SBU) During the January 28 Property Working Group

meeting, Government of Nicaragua (GON) officials stated that the
GON wants to improve its cooperation with U.S. citizen claimants to
advance their claims, noting that the GON hopes to exceed the
number of claims resolved during the last waiver year by February.
One GON official reported that the National Property Appeals Court
has been closed and all of the cases have been transferred to civil
court. Econoff pressed officials to advance claims with favorable
court decisions, as well as non-waiver cases. Econoff also
emphasized the importance of confirming dates for the bilateral
review, noting that these consultations are considered one of the
benchmarks in granting a Section 527 waiver. We believe that GON
officials are promoting cooperation with U.S. claimants, and
promising more progress on resolving claims, so that Attorney
General Hernan Estrada can argue that his participation in a
bilateral review during this waiver year is not necessary.

IMPROVING COOPERATION WITH CLAIMANTS

------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On January 28, Econoff held the monthly Property Working
Group meeting with Ruth Zapata, Head of the Office of Assessment
and Quantification (OCI); Magally Bravo, the Attorney General????s
Executive Coordinator for Property Issues; Alfonso Solorzano,
member of the National Confiscations Review Commission (CNRC); and
Rebeca Zuniga, Coordinator of the Office of U.S. Citizen Claims.
Zapata stated that the GON seeks to improve its cooperation with
U.S. claimants to resolve more claims during this waiver year
compared to the 2008-2009 waiver period (48) by February. Zuniga
provided Econoff a list of claimants and asked him to contact them
so that she could either call or meet with them to discuss their
claims.

CLOSURE OF NAT'L PROPERTY APPEALS COURT

---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Solorzano mentioned that the Nicaraguan Supreme Court
closed the National Property Appeals Court (Ref A) on December 8,
2009, because it had been slow and inefficient in adjudicating
cases (septel). He said that all of the cases have been
transferred to civil court. Econoff inquired whether the National
Assembly amended Law 278/1997, which established the court, to
close it. Solorzano responded that he was not aware of the
authority the Supreme Court invoked to close the court. Econoff
asked GON officials to provide information on how this appellate
body had been closed to inform U.S. claimants with pending cases in
the court. [Note: There are at least 15 U.S. claimants who have
cases that await a decision in the National Property Appeals Court.
End Note].

CLAIMS WITH FAVORABLE COURT RULINGS AND NON-WAIVER CASES

--------------------------------------------- -----------

4. (SBU) Econoff pressed GON officials to advance claims

with favorable court decisions and non-waiver cases. Econoff noted
that there are at least five claims with favorable court decisions
that order the return of property to claimants, but the GON has
failed to act. With regard to non-waiver cases, he 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. property claims should be afforded equal
due process to defend their property rights.

BILATERAL REVIEW

----------------


5. (SBU) Econoff urged GON officials to confirm the dates for the
bilateral review during this waiver year. He explained that the
bilateral review is considered one of the benchmarks in granting a
Section 527 waiver. Zuniga said that Attorney General Hernan
Estrada would respond to the Ambassador's December 17, 2009 letter
regarding possible dates for the bilateral review in March.

COMMENT

-------

6. (SBU) The GON's expression of improved cooperation with U.S.
claimants should be interpreted with a degree of skepticism. We
believe that Attorney General Estrada is promoting this
cooperation, and asserting further progress on resolving claims, to
avoid his participation in the bilateral review in March or any
time during this waiver year.
CALLAHAN

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