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Posted November 13, 2005 by publisher in US Embargo

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A Nebraska law school has won a $750,000 federal grant to tackle what’s likely to be a thorny issue in Cuba policy: once Fidel Castro is gone, what will be done with the thousands of properties he confiscated from Americans 45 years ago?

The Creighton University School of Law in Omaha won a two-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Cuba Transition to Democracy Program to come up with a model property claims tribunal.

The bilateral U.S.-Cuba tribunal would try to settle the thousands of claims now worth about $6 billion that have amassed since Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalized more than 6,000 U.S. properties in 1960. The owners range from Texaco to United Fruit Sugar.

The idea of the grant is to create a model that post-Castro Cuba can use to settle the claims.

‘‘We don’t have a dog in that fight. We are academics who know something about this kind of thing trying to offer our thoughts on how this would work,’’ said Patrick Borchers, dean of Creighton School of Law. “These are events that took place over 40 years ago. That’s going to be a big project.’‘

Although Creighton has no expertise in Cuba study, Borchers said the school is known for its international-law programs. Borchers, an expert in conflict of laws, will lead a team of six people, including political scientists and dispute-resolution specialists. The money would subsidize part of their salaries and pay for computer software and travel.

‘‘One of the major issues at the time of transition will be property confiscations,’’ said David Mutchler, director of USAID’s Cuba program. “People have done papers and studied it, but this is attempting to systematically look at a lot of issues.’‘

Adolfo Franco, USAID’s assistant administrator for Latin America, will formally award the grant at a ceremony next week at Creighton, his alma mater.

News of the grant drew mixed reactions.

‘‘USAID just wasted $750,000,’’ said Teo A. Babun, a businessman who established a private claims register in 1999. “It doesn’t take rocket science to see what’s already available and pull it together.’‘

The Cuban-American National Foundation has stressed that it’s important not to give the impression that exiles would return home to boot people out of their homes, or that Washington will be calling the shots.

‘‘Obviously, there is going to have to be a process, and that process would have to be established by Cubans on the island,’’ said foundation director Alfredo Mesa. “We welcome the study, as long as it recognizes that those decisions have to be made by Cubans under a sovereign state where there is rule of law.’’

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 13, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    This is the email I just sent to the Dean and professor of law:

    Dean Borchers and Professor Morse,

    For your information, we have posted a story by Frances Robles with a new title

    “Creighton University School of Law takes $750,000 from pro-Embargo USAID - Director (publisher note: we changed this now to Administrator) gives US taxapayer money to his old school”

    and can be found at http://havanajournal.com/politics_comments/4006_0_5_0_C/

    I think you should reconsider your decision to accept these funds considering the sources, USAID and former student Adolfo Franco, USAID’ assistant administrator for Latin America.

    If you would like to comment on the story, you may comment on the story at the URL above.

    Rob Sequin




    If you would like to contact Dean Borchers or Professor Morse, their email addresses are public from http://culaw2.creighton.edu/index.aspx?p=67

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  2. Follow up post #2 added on November 13, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Here’ the story about Loyola University accepting funds from USAID:

    Loyola takes heat for grant acceptance


    Does anyone know if they refused the grant money?

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  3. Follow up post #3 added on November 16, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Professor Morse has notified us that he is not associated with this project, and is no longer an administrator in the School of Law.

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