Families Fight for Compensation From Cuban Government

Cuban-Americans whose families lost everything when the Castro regime took control are hoping that with renewed relations between the United States and Cuba there may be a possibility of getting some kind of compensation.

Nick Gutierrez still has pictures of his father on the family ranch in Cuba a few years before Castro came to power. The photos captured loved ones in a time when the ranch, their other lands, retail buildings, and their home was all in their name.

"Many of us have followed this issue closely, we have have gotten the families together and organized, we have compiled documentation on exactly what was taken from us and we intend to pursue this," Gutierrez said.

Miami real estate attorney Sophia Powell-Cosio is also hoping to reclaim her family's property.

"With renewed relations there may be some possibility of getting some kind of compensation," she said. "When the Castro regime came in they basically confiscated all of my family's properties."

Powell-Cosio's family is in the strongest position to get something back. Her grandmother was a U.S. citizen living in Cuba at the time Castro took over. Her family is one of 5,913 who have official property claims filed. Theirs was made in the 1960's.

"I really do not expect to get any of the property back, I don't think that's feasible or viable but historically with other countries there has been some form of compensations that's been paid," she said. "I think more it's the emotional, the raw emotional aspect of it and that is just never going to go away."

The federal law that keeps the embargo against Cuba in place says it can't be lifted until the Cuban government has taken "appropriate steps to return to the United States citizens property taken by the Cuban Government...or equitable compensation to such citizens."

Gutierrez was asked if he thinks the families will ever actually see the true value of their properties.

"I would think they would be pressing the representatives in Congress to say 'wait, we won't be agreeing to settle this at pennies on the dollar," he said.

Powell-Cosio said there is no amount of money that could ever take back what happened over the last 50 years and she's not happy about a list of other things she believes the Cuban government isn't close to changing.

Gutierrez said there's about $8 billion in claims that have been filed.

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