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2 US Senators Would Require Cuba to Address Claims

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention.

Senate Republicans Marco Rubio and David Vitter introduced legislation earlier this week that would require Cuba to address unsettled and unpaid legal claims in the United States before easing trade and travel restrictions on the island nation.

In introducing the "Cuban Claims Settlement Act in America" legislation, the senators said there are $7 to $8 billion in outstanding claims by American citizens and businesses for properties confiscated by the Castros in Cuba.

“Many families and entities in the U.S. and around the world deserve just compensation for the properties the Castro regime seized from them and has been making money off of to repress the Cuban people,” Rubio said. “At the very least, President [Barack] Obama and any future president should force the Castro regime to pay back the people they stole from before travel and trade restrictions are eased.”

Vitter said that although Obama "wants a quick fix," Congress should not lift the embargo against Cuba without "adequate assurances that protect American business."

"Ensuring that these legal claims are accounted for and are being settled is a must for the American families and businesses whose property was seized, and for ensuring any degree of future business with Cuba," Vitter said. "We need a long-term plan to ensure that these families’ claims are returned once and for all."

The bill would require the president to include a plan to address the outstanding Foreign Claim Settlement Commission (FCSC) Cuban Claims Program during any new negotiations with Cuba. The fourth round of negotiations between delegations from both countries will be held Thursday in Washington.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced plans to normalize relations between the two countries in December. Rubio, a presidential candidate and the son of Cuban immigrants, opposes such a move.

The United States said last month it would remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, effective May 29.

VOA's Spanish Branch contributed to this report

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