U.S. and Cuba meet to discuss human trafficking and confiscated property
BY ABEL FERNÁNDEZ
Two separate delegations with representatives from the United States and
Cuba will meet in Washington and Havana to discuss human trafficking and
confiscated property claims.
The meeting in Washington, which begins Thursday and will run through
Friday, is the fourth exchange between the two countries on the issue of
trafficking in persons, and seeks to coordinate efforts in the
prevention and prosecution of that criminal enterprise, as well as
identifying areas of possible cooperation, the State Department announced.
Simultaneously, in Havana, both governments will hold the third meeting
on claims of confiscated property on the island. The claims include
those of U.S. citizens who were certified by the Foreign Claims
Settlement Commission, claims relating to unsatisfied U.S. judicial
decisions against Cuba and claims held by the U.S. government.
The United States considers the resolution of such claims an absolute
priority, according to the State Department.
The American delegation to the human trafficking meeting will be led by
Ambassador-at-Large Susan Coppedge of the Office to Monitor and Combat
Trafficking in Persons and Deputy Assistant Secretary John Creamer of
the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Representatives from the
Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human
Services will also participate. The Cuban delegation will be headed by
Yuri Ariel Gala López, director of bilateral affairs at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, among other officials from various Cuban agencies.
The U.S. delegation to the claims meeting in Havana will be led by Brian
Egan, State Department legal adviser.
"The meeting will allow the delegations to build upon previous
discussions in Havana and Washington, D.C., and to exchange views on
technical details and methodologies regarding outstanding claims," the
State Department said in a statement.
Cuba and the U.S. held the first meeting on claims in December 2015 in
Havana, and met again to discuss the issue in July 2016.
Between 1959 and 1961, following Fidel Castro's ascent to power, the
Cuban government nationalized the property belonging to U.S. citizens
and corporations on the island. The nearly 6,000 claims are valued at
$1.9 billion, but worth more than $7 billion today as adjusted for
In 1964, Congress established a Cuban Claims Program to process property
claims confiscated from U.S. citizens by the Cuban government. Experts
say most of the certified claims are in the amount of less than $1
million, and could be settled with funds from the Cuban government
frozen by the United States.
However, frozen funds — Cuban assets that pass through some U.S. bank in
a transaction and are seized — are used to compensate for human rights
Cuba, on the other hand, claims that the U.S. owes billions of dollars
in reparations for economic damages caused by the embargo. Havana also
alleges damages for the Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1976 bombing of
Cubana de Aviación flight 445, among other things. The Cuban government
seeks compensation for human damages of $181 billion, and $121 billion
for material damages related to the embargo.
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Source: U.S. and Cuba to discuss human trafficking and property claims |
Miami Herald -