MIAMI – President Donald Trump registered his business trademark in Cuba in 2008 with an eye toward building hotels, casinos and golf courses there, the daily Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.
According to the newspaper’s investigation, citing as its primary source a register in the Cuban Industrial Property Office, Trump engaged an attorney on the communist island to handle the trademark registration procedure.
However, and due to the “rampant red tape” in Cuba, Trump’s trademark was not approved there until two years later and expired in 2018 when the Republican already had taken office as the US president.
The trademark was related to “investment in real estate,” “beauty contests,” “golf courses,” “casino game services,” “montage of television programs,” and “hotel services,” among many other activities listed, according to a description of Trump’s application that appears both on the official Cuban registry Web site and in a 2009 bulletin.
Trump – who is intent on drumming up additional support among the Cuban-American community in Florida, a key swing state – has declared that he did not “violate” the US embargo against Cuba, which was imposed in 1960 and is still in place, according to the paper.
The reason for this claim is that the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, as well as the Treasury Department’s rules for implementing the trade embargo against the communist island, include exceptions such as filing for registered trademarks by paying local agents to do so.
According to the investigation, Trump hired Cuban attorney Leticia Laura Bermudez Benitez to file the request to register his trademark in October 2008, listing the address of the Trump Organization at 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10022.
In June 2017 at a Miami event at which he paid tribute to several Cuban opposition figures, President Trump listed his administration’s policies to reverse the thaw in bilateral relations launched by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Among the modifications to Obama’s policy that Trump implemented was halting US business with Cuban military companies and restricting visits to the island.
At the time, Trump said that his administration did not want US dollars going to businesses owned by the Cuban regime to exploit the Cuban people, adding that he was not going to lift sanctions on the island until there was freedom there, political parties were legalized and free elections with international supervision were held.
Trump, however, did not reverse the Obama decision to cancel the entry of undocumented Cubans to the US as part of the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy begun in 1995.
More recently, last August, a report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, traveled to Cuba in 2017 to meet with “a son of Castro,” without specifying whether the Castro referred to was Fidel or Raul.
According to the Miami Herald, it was Manafort who confirmed to FBI investigators that the meeting with Castro’s son was arranged by Brad Zackson, who worked as an “exclusive broker” for real estate properties for Trump’s father, Fred Trump, who died in 1999.
According to reports to which the Herald received access, the visit to Cuba took place during early January 2017, just after Trump took office.
Although in a 1999 speech to the Cuban American National Foundation, Trump had promised not to do business in Cuba, and thus he may have broken this promise – although not the embargo’s rules – by filing his trademark there, since he started his 2016 presidential run his harsh rhetoric against the Havana regime has motivated many Cuban-American voters in Florida to give him their support.