Executive summary of the report on the ‘Resolution of Outstanding Property Claims Between Cuba and the United States’

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By Creighton University School of Law and Political Science Department under a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development On Oct. 1, 2005, Creighton University was awarded a grant from USAID to develop a model for a property claims settlement mechanism between Cuba and the United States. Three law faculty were joined by three political-science faculty to form a team of experts supported by graduate students at both schools to investigate and report on the best outcome for such a mechanism: Patrick J. Borchers, vice president for Academic Affairs, professor and former dean of the Law School (principal investigator); Michael J. Kelly, professor of law; Dr. Erika Moreno, assistant professor of political science; Dr. Richard C. Witmer, assistant professor of political science; Dr. James S. Wunsch, professor and chair of political science; and Arthur Pearlstein, professor of law and director of the Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. The model provides a template to be utilized by the United States government in future negotiations with a post-Castro democratic regime in Havana. As a central feature in the U.S. government’s proactive planning for Cuba’s transition to democracy, this model responds to the requirement of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (the “Libertad Act”) that property claims be resolved as a precondition to the U.S. government lifting the economic embargo against Cuba. Lifting the embargo is required to normalize Cuba-U.S. relations. Consequently, resolving the property-claims issue is one of the early criteria which must be met in that process, after the president has certified to Congress that a democratically elected government has achieved power in Cuba. This report proposes creating a dual-track property-claims settlement mechanism. The first track is a bilateral Cuba-U.S. Tribunal established by treaty or executive agreement between a new Cuban government and the U.S. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal would be over property claims of U.S. nationals that have been certified by the Federal Claims Settlement Commission. The second track is a Cuban Special Claims Court constituted as an independent chamber of the Cuban national judiciary. The jurisdiction of this Special Court would be over property claims from Cuban-American exile community.

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