HAVANA.- Claims relating to U.S. properties nationalized by Cuba and demands by the island for damages caused by over 50 years of the Washington imposed blockade, have been placed on the negotiating table.

Delegations from both countries started to remove a range of obstacles, meeting in Havana one week prior to December 17, the date that both presidents announced their decision to commence a new era of dialogue between their nations and resume diplomatic relations, following 56 years of confrontation.

Claims relating to U.S. properties nationalized by Cuba and demands by the island for damages caused by over 50 years of the Washington imposed blockade, have been placed on the negotiating table.According to Dr. Olga Miranda Bravo, who was for many years head of the Legal Department in the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry, differences between both countries did not start with the nationalization of U.S. properties or in reprisal for the cancellation of the Cuban sugar quota in the United States market in 1960.

In her book Cuba/USA: Nationalizations and Blockade, Miranda says expropriations were in the public interest, consistent with the decision to adopt measures to ensure the economic and social development of the Cuban people.

Such actions also included compensation to the owners of all nationalized properties.

The owners and governments of Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden were compensated, while the United States refused to negotiate with the Cuban government.

Cuban professor Miguel Angel D’Estefano in an essay published in 1983 outlines that at an Assembly of the Organization of American States as early as 1962, the then President of Cuba, Dr. Osvaldo Dorticos, said that his government was ready to negotiate through diplomatic channels or any other appropriate mechanism, the differences between both countries.

Timothy F. Ashby, an ex official of the U.S. Department of Commerce has confirmed that he met regularly with Cuban Government representatives between 1987 and 1990 who expressed their interest in settling the demands arising from the nationalized assets of American citizens and companies.

On hearing such proposals, National Security and the State Department Advisers said they were not worthy of an official response.

Ramón Sánchez Parodi, who was the first chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, from 1977 to 1989, said that in 1974, Henry Kissinger – then Secretaryof  State and Adviser on National Security -- sent Fidel Castro a message with a group of Americans who were traveling to interview the then Cuban President.

The essence of the letter was contained in the following phrase: “Cuba and the United States are countries with different political, economic and social regimes, who disagree on most fundamental international issues, but that is no reason for a perpetual hostility.”

Secret meetings took place between several U.S. administrations and Havana, but conciliatory efforts only bore fruit on December 17, 2014, when presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama announced that they had agreed to start a process to reestablish relations, which happened on July 20, 2015 with the further normalization of ties.

U.S. historian and activist Jane Franklin recalls that U.S. owners claimed their assets had been undervalued in order to evade taxes. The Cuban government asked them to declare their true value and to pay the tax arrears.

In Franklin´s opinion that is why Washington declined to accept the Cuban offer of compensation.

The U.S. scholar also said that the blockade policy later complicated any resolution of compensation claims to American companies and citizens.

The lifting of the blockade has become a sine qua non requirement to satisfy claims over such properties.

In the latest report presented and approved by the UN General Assembly, for the 23rd consecutive year demanding an end to the blockade, Cuba claims a total of one trillion,100 billion dollars for damages, while certified U.S. claims are valued at present in 8 billion dollars with interest... figures which bear no comparison.

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