A new report shows that Donald Trump attempted to do business with Castro’s Cuba in 2008 after having promised Miami’s expatriate community that he would never conduct business on the island so long as it remained communist.
This is the second time Trump’s machinations have surfaced on the heavily sanctioned island 90 miles south of Key West, although this is the first time he didn’t violate federal law by conducting business in Cuba. Communism is still the number one issue for many Republican Cuban-Americans as evidenced by a hate rally the local GOP led with the violent Proud Boys street gang two years ago during the last election, where its Chairperson led a screaming “repudiation mob” shouting “comunista” in a terrifying assault on a Democratic campaign office.
The New York developer’s foray into South Florida politics began with a speech to the top Cuban exile group in Republican politics while planning an abortive presidential campaign in 2000, for which he published an op-editorial in the Miami Herald to specifically lie about his illegal attempts to circumvent sanctions and build a vacation resort with Fidel Castro he had engaged in only seven months prior.
Now, there can be no disputing that Trump’s desire to run a commercial business with the communist island nation continued to be a top priority for most of this century, even while he continued to court votes from Miami’s Cuban exile community, a major block of voters who remains heavily invested in the Republican Party despite its racism towards other Latinos in America. The Tampa Bay Times reports:
Donald Trump applied in 2008 to register his Trump trademark in the Caribbean nation for a variety of commercial activities, including investing in real estate, hotels, casinos and golf courses.
A search of the Cuban Industrial Property Office database shows that Donald J. Trump hired a Cuban lawyer, Leticia Laura Bermúdez Benítez, to submit the application in October 2008. The address listed was that of the Trump Organization: 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, 10022.
The Cuban government approved Trump’s trademarks two years after he filed, but they expired two years ago, apparently unused.
Because Cuba is considered a “first to file” jurisdiction for trademarks, meaning that whoever files the paperwork gets name protection regardless of if they’ve used it, American law makes an exception to allow citizens here to hire counsel there and complete their registrations.
Fidel Castro took over Cuba in a coup d’etat on New Year’s Day 1959, overthrowing an American-backed puppet regime, but still maintaining support here as his highly publicized tour of New York City later that year demonstrated. However, things changed when Castro embraced the Soviet Union when facing US disapproval of his socialist policies which led President Dwight D. Eisenhower to finance a disastrous CIA-backed invasion of the island which his successor President John F. Kennedy allowed to move forward, but withdrew air support leading to a never forgotten rout at the Bay of Pigs.
Cuban exiles obtained a general amnesty in the late 1960s—which former GOP Presidential candidate Sen Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) grandfather availed himself of, only after having served as a top Castro official—but never forgave Kennedy for botching the reconquest of their home island and became Republican voters during an era when Florida’s Democrats controlled the state in a virtual one-party system.
Today, Cuban-Americans are a Republican dominant swing-voting block in Florida, a key presidential swing state, which prompted Donald Trump’s many visits over the past twenty years. From the get-go, the trust-fund baby bankruptcy magnet deployed his usual mendacious tactics, telling the Cuban American National Foundation:
“As you know—and the people in this room know better than anyone—putting money and investing money in Cuba right now doesn’t go to the people of Cuba,” Trump told the crowd.
“It goes to Fidel Castro. He’s a murderer. He’s a killer. He’s a bad guy in every respect, and, frankly, the embargo must stand if for no other reason than, if it does stand, he will come down.”
Trump also vowed to maintain the embargo against Castro, which he wound up renewing after President Obama had successfully moved towards normalizing relations with our southern neighbor and the re-establishment of an American embassy.
Donald Trump’s current re-election bid is generally thought to be in dire straits owing to his consistently low opinion polling, and there’s no doubt that re-election will be out of reach if he loses Florida.
Today’s news is another pain point for Donald Trump with a key GOP voting block in the most important swing state in America.
And once again, it turns out that he did literally everything within his power to do business with the bogeyman whom Cuban-American Republicans still despise to this very day, thereby proving that his base voters are the very people who should have the least trust in the King of Lies.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition