Old Cuban Court Judgment for Money Damages Against the U.S. Government  

A previous post reviewed the various damage claims that Cuba and the U.S. have against each other and recommended that all of them be submitted to a joint proceeding before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands.

One of those claims is Cuba’s claim for alleged damages resulting from the U.S. embargo or blockade of Cuba, which at the last session of the U.N. General Assembly in October 2014 amounted to $1.1 trillion, according to Cuba’s Foreign Minister.

On May 15, 2015, Granma, Cuba’s official newspaper, inexplicably ran an article about a judgment rendered by a Cuban court (the Civil and Administrative Court of Law at the Havana Provincial People’s Court) on such a claim fifteen years earlier, on May 5, 2000. This was in a lawsuit filed by eight of Cuba’s social and mass organizations (CTC, ANAP, FMC, FEU, FEEM, OPJM, CDR and ACRC) and was after a trial from February 28 through March 10, 2000.

The judgment on May 5, 2000, for these alleged damages was $ 64 billion, representing loss of markets for Cuban exports and loss of Cuba’s main suppliers; investments for the conversion of production facilities; increased costs of transportation to and from more-distant markets and suppliers; increased costs of carrying larger inventories of supplies to protect against supply interruptions; reduced purchases of Cuban goods by U.S. citizens and companies; increased costs associated with outdated equipment; and increased costs of alternative financing and frozen Cuban assets in the U.S.

In the same case the Cuban court also rendered a judgment against the U.S. for another $54 billion of alleged damages resulting from alleged U.S. efforts to subvert Cuba’s government, including Cuba’s costs of countering such efforts, of mobilizing Cuba’s military and of combatting U.S. alleged “biological warfare.”

I assume that this Cuban court judgment was in a lawsuit in which the U.S. did not appear and thus was what in U.S. law is called a default judgment. This judgment, I believe, would be irrelevant in the suggested arbitration of various damage claims by the Permanent Court of Arbitration as would any default judgments rendered against Cuba by any U.S. courts.

Interestingly a search of articles about Cuba in the New York Times from March 1 through May 30, 2000, did not reveal any articles about this Cuban lawsuit. Instead, there were many articles in this period about the battles in U.S. courts and public opinion over whether a six-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, who was in Florida after being rescued at sea should be returned to his Father in Cuba. This controversy was resolved on June 28, 2000, when he was returned to his Father.

On May 18, 2015, Elian, now 21 years old and a student of Industrial Engineering at the University of Matanzas, Cuba, was in the news again when he said to a U.S. journalist that if he could visit anywhere, it would be the U.S. to “give my love to (the) American people.”












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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

3 thoughts on “Old Cuban Court Judgment for Money Damages Against the U.S. Government  ”

  1. I believe the US is not a signatory to jurisdiction of the World Court and therefore would not abide by any of it’s rulings. Therefore as incumbent in International Law treaties it is the duty and role of US citizens to bring it’s government and it’s ruling class (the 1%) to bear for it’s unjust and illegal activities. Any other path is oblivious to the truth, to the plight of the victims and cowardice in light of Christian teachings.

    1. Comment: U.S. and World Court

      The subject of this post was a judgment by a Cuban court, not an international court.Therefore, Mr. Klave’s comment is not directly relevant to the post.

      His reference to the “World Court” presumably is to the International Court of Justice, which is “a world court . . . with dual jurisdiction: it decides, in accordance with international law, disputes of a legal nature that are submitted to it by States (jurisdiction in contentious cases); and it gives advisory opinions on legal questions at the request of the organs of the United Nations or specialized agencies authorized to make such a request (advisory jurisdiction).”

      For contentious cases, “only States may apply to and appear before the International Court of Justice. Article 35 of the Statute defines the conditions of access for States to the Court. While paragraph 1 of that Article opens it to the State parties to the Statute, paragraph 2 is intended to regulate access to the Court by States which are not parties to the Statute. The conditions of access of such States are, subject to the special provisions contained in treaties in force at the date of the entry into force of the Statute, to be determined by the Security Council, with the proviso that in no case shall such conditions place the parties in a position of inequality before the Court.”

      The International Court Of Justice “can only deal with a dispute when the States concerned have recognized its jurisdiction. No State can therefore be a party to proceedings before the Court unless it has in some manner or other consented thereto.”

      Currently 193 states are parties to the Court’s Statute (or treaty). Both Cuba and the U.S. are original members and thus are entitled to bring contentious cases to the Court.

      However, neither Cuba nor the U.S. is among the 72 members that have exercised their right to “at any time declare that they recognize as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other State accepting the same obligation, the jurisdiction of the Court” (Art 36, para. 2 of the Statute).”

      Therefore, for any contentious case between Cuba and the U.S. to be brought before the Court the two countries would have to agree to its jurisdiction by a special agreement indicating the subject of the dispute and the parties. (Statute, Arts. 36(1), 40(1); Rules, Art. 39.)

      For some of the pending disputes between the U.S. and Cuba, it is conceivable that the two countries could enter into such a special agreement for submission of those disputes to this Court. In my opinion, however, it is too soon to determine whether that is a viable option.

      This information is derived from the website of the International Court of Justice, http://www.icj-cij.org/homepage/index.php

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