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Cuban Exile Awarded $2.8B in Suit Against Castro Government

Posted Aug 25, 2011 7:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Cuban exile awarded $2.8 billion in his suit against the Castro government this week has little chance of collecting the full amount.

The plaintiff, Gustavo Villoldo, alleged Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara persecuted him and his family, the Miami Herald reports. The award includes $1.4 billion for seized properties owned by the Villoldo family.

Judge Beatrice Butchko of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court in Florida awarded the money after finding the Cuban government’s actions amounted to torture, the Associated Press reports. Villoldo’s lawyer, Andrew Hall of Miami, says the award is the largest civil judgment ever against Cuba.

After fleeing to the United States, Villoldo participated in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and worked with the CIA in efforts to track down Guevara.

Collection may prove more difficult than winning the case. Cuba doesn’t defend itself in such U.S. lawsuits, so judgments are “almost automatic,” the Miami Herald story says. Plaintiffs collect default judgments through a shrinking collection of frozen Cuban funds and properties here.

Hall plans to try to recover part of the judgment from the frozen funds, and will also seek money from businesses run by the Cuban government that do business abroad.

Updated Aug. 29 to include link to ABA Journal magazine story.

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