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Run from Cuba, Americans cling to claims for seized property

Run from Cuba, Americans cling to claims for seized property

The smell of Cuban coffee drifts from the kitchen as Carolyn Chester digs through faded photos that fill boxes spread across the dining table.

Friends linked arm-in-arm on a Cuban beach.

Men in suits and women in evening gowns at a Havana nightclub.

And in almost every frame, an American man with a salt-and-pepper mustache and a raven-haired woman – Chester’s parents – smiling at good fortune that, they could not know, would soon be snatched away.

“I always heard about Cuba … and all this money that we lost and `Maybe one day,’ but I didn’t understand it,” Chester says.

Six decades later, that day may finally be nearing for Chester and others like her. To reach it, though, diplomacy will have to settle very old scores.

After Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuba confiscated property belonging to thousands of American citizens and companies. Edmund and Enna Chester lost an 80-acre farm, thousands of dollars’ worth of stock, and a Buick that, who knows, may still be plying Havana’s streets.

In 1996, Congress passed a law insisting Cuba pay for confiscated property, valued today at $7 billion, before lifting the U.S. embargo.

Read More:News from The Associated Press.

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