Special to WorldTribune.com
As the United States moves closer to restoring full diplomatic ties to Cuba, some Spaniards believe the increased focus on the island nation may open the door for them to recover property that was seized when they fled the communist revolution.
American citizens who lost assets in Cuba may also have an opening to attempt to get them back. According to a 2007 study by Creighton University, Americans have certified claims worth around $6 billion. U.S. lawmakers are pressing the White House to look more closely at the issue.
“Change is underway in Cuba,” said Jordi Cabarrocas, director of an investment fund that represents some Spaniards whose property was seized. Cabarrocas added that changing conditions in Cuba is “very good news” for his clients’ cases.
Cabarrocas says about $1.8 billion in assets were seized from his company’s clients, including farms, factories and warehouses. He added that Spanish claims in Cuba overall could add up to about $20 billion.
Cabarrocas contends that the Spanish case for compensation is the most compelling. “I believe we’re in a stronger position than Americans, because we’re talking about Cuba expropriating people who were mostly dual citizens, both Spanish and Cuban, so fully covered by international law.”
Full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba will be restored next week when the U.S. embassy in Havana and Cuban embassy in Washington open.
One issue that may prevent Spaniards from recovering their property is a 1986 agreement in which Cuba agreed to pay compensation for seized assets ($40 million in restitution paid party in cash and goods).
Cabarrocas added “There will be more twists and turns, but what’s important is that Spaniards don’t miss out on the changes in Cuba.”