Nearly 60 years ago, American’s living in Cuba were forced to flee the island as Fidel Castro took power and began expropriating property. They left Cuba with the notion that they were not abandoning their homes and property, and had every intention of returning to the island in the near future. The new regime was quick to criminalize those that were forced to flee the island and declared that any property left behind was now owned by the Cuban government.
Decades later, possessions that were left behind during the Castro revolution are turning up in the United States as stolen heirlooms are being sold to the highest bidder.
In an article from The Miami Herald, PobleteTamargo attorney Jason Poblete discusses the difference between confiscated and abandoned properties, a necessary clarification in establishing ownership, that can be legally uncertain based on Cuba’s definition of abandoned property, which is not internationally recognized.
“That’s the Nazis’ defense, which frustrated efforts to win justice for many years … and has been used by communist governments but is not recognized in international law,” said Jason Poblete, an expert on U.S. sanctions on Cuba who has represented clients whose properties were confiscated.
Poblete goes on to express the importance in discussing questions about property and ownership in the Cuba of the Future.
“In a transition process, these are questions that must be raised. What was done in 1959 must be studied,” he said. “Sadly, what is happening now is a black market on Cuban art, for example. Very valuable pieces are being trafficked. This is part of a discussion that must take place when we talk about ‘transitional justice.’ ”
The Miami Herald article found below was originally published on May 3, and can be found here.