Over the years, as interest in U.S. property claims has increased
and decreased, a pattern of questions has emerged. Some of
the most frequently asked questions and their answers are
Q. What was the value of privately owned
U.S. property seized by the Cuban government in 1959 and 1960?
A. Approximately $1.8 billion.
Q. Were the expropriations by the Cuban
government large in comparison to other expropriations of
American assets by foreign nations?
A. Yes. In fact, the amount of U.S. private property and
assets expropriated by the Cuban government is the largest
uncompensated taking of American property by any foreign government
in the history of our country.
Q. How was the value of U.S. properties
seized by the Cuban government determined?
A. The value of these properties was adjudicated and then
certified by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, an
agency of the U.S. Government. The total amount of claims
certified by the Commission was $1,851,057,358, but this amount
represents only the principal value of private property at
the time it was seized.
Q. What types of corporate assets were
involved in the seizures?
A. Manufacturing facilities, sugar plantations, sugar
mills and other agricultural properties, utilities, hotels,
wholesale and retail commercial companies; in short, every
asset in Cuba owned wholly or in part by U.S. nationals.
Q. How much was lost by individual U.S.
A. About $233 million, or 12 percent of the total. In
addition, about $13 million was lost by church, educational
and other nonprofit organizations.
Q. Were these properties taken by the
Cuban government without payment?
A. Yes. They were taken in most cases under force of arms,
and no compensation of any kind was made.
Q. Since the Castro regime came to power
in 1959, was any promise ever made to pay for the confiscated
A. Yes. The decrees issued by the Castro regime in 1959
for the purpose of taking U.S. properties recognized the principle
of compensation, and authorized the issuance of government
bonds to the former owners, but no such bonds were ever issued
and no offer of payment has been made since the properties
Q. Why is it in the interest of the
U.S. Government to insist upon a settlement of claims before
trade and diplomatic relations are restored?
A. If the United States resumes trade and diplomatic relations
without first resolving the claims issue, this might lead
to future unlawful confiscations of American properties without
compensation. Our government should not be sending a signal
to other foreign nations that unlawful seizures of property
can occur without consequence.
Q. If U.S. claims have been certified
by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, why are U.S.
corporations concerned about these claims? Isn't it the responsibility
of the U.S. Government to seek a negotiated settlement of
A. It is true that it is the responsibility of the U.S.
Government to seek a settlement of the claims certified by
the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The ability of the
State Department to negotiate a settlement of these claims
at some future date, however, will depend largely on the Cuban
government's willingness to seek a settlement of these claims
which, in turn, will be influenced greatly by the desire for
renewed trade relations. If Congress or the Administration
should act to lift the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba before
a negotiated settlement of claims were reached, then the Cuban
government has little incentive to settle the claims. Certainly,
the government of Cuba can not be expected to return or offer
to pay for the expropriated properties unless it is to gain
something in return. Consequently, any normalization of trade
relations prior to the resolution of the claims issue would
undermine the negotiating position of our government in seeking
a just settlement.
Q. Is it likely that relations between
the United States and Cuba will someday be restored?
A. It is generally believed that improved relations between
the United States and Cuba are inevitable at some time in
the future. Cuba and the United States have a long historical
record of amicable relations preceding the Cuban revolution,
and Cuba is only 90 miles from the U.S. mainland.
Q. What did the U.S. Government
do in response to the expropriation of U.S. properties by
the Cuban Government?
A. The U.S. Government imposed a partial trade
embargo against Cuba in October 1960. This was followed by
the breaking of diplomatic relations in January 1961, and
the imposition of a total trade embargo in February 1962.
Q. Is the embargo still in effect?
A. Yes, with certain modifications made over the years.
Direct trade between the U.S. and Cuba is still prohibited
under the trade embargo established in 1962. In 1975, the
regulations were modified to allow foreign subsidiaries of
U.S. corporations to trade with Cuba. Enactment of the Cuban
Democracy Act of 1992, however, reimposed the embargo on trading
with Cuba by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies. In addition,
the 1992 Act bars foreign ships that trade with Cuba from
entering U.S. ports for a period of six months.
Q. What is the Joint Corporate Committee
on Cuban Claims, and who are the members of the organization?
A. The Joint Corporate Committee on Cuban Claims is a
voluntary organization whose membership is comprised of corporations
and individuals with claims against the government of Cuba
which have been adjudicated and certified by the U.S. Foreign
Claims Settlement Commission.
Q. What is the purpose of the Committee?
A. The purpose of the Committee is to communicate to Congress
and the Administration the Committee's strong support for
upholding the long-standing policy requiring the Cuban Government
to seek return or arrange compensation for U.S. properties
it seized before trade and diplomatic relations are restored,
and to encourage the U.S. Government to demand an adequate
settlement of these claims.
Q. How has the Joint Corporate Committee
on Cuban Claims supported the rights of certified claim holders?
A. Since its formation in 1975, the Committee has strongly
supported the rights of U.S. certified claimants whose property
was taken from them by the government of Cuba. For more than
25 years, the Committee has been present to challenge any
initiative in Washington or elsewhere that would directly
or indirectly diminish the value of U.S. claims against the
Q. What recent actions has the Committee
A. Consistent with its efforts over the past two decades,
the Committee continues to support and defend the right of
certified claim holders to seek return of their properties
or, if that is not feasible or practical, to receive a fair
and adequate monetary settlement of their claims against the
government of Cuba.
Recent actions of the Joint Corporate Committee on Cuban Claims
include: continuous contacts with U.S. nationals holding certified
property claims, ongoing communications with State Department
officials, meetings with members of Congress and Administration
officials, and Congressional testimony on legislative initiatives
which might directly or indirectly affect the rights of property