WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that her Republican opponent Donald Trump may have violated the United States laws by attempting to doing business in Cuba in 1998.
“Today we learned about his efforts to do business in Cuba which appear to violate U.S. law, certainly flout American foreign policy,” Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane.
The former First Lady also criticized that Trump “has consistently misled people in responding to questions about whether he was attempting to do business in Cuba.”
In 1998, Trump explored business opportunities in Cuba through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. in order to bypass the embargo that prohibits investments in the island, according to internal documents, court rulings and interviews conducted with Trump executives, as reported by Newsweek.
Trump Hotels spent at least $68,000 to explore business opportunities with the Fidel Castro’s government, using a consulting firm and hiding the motives under humanitarian justifications.
At that time, any investment in the island without approval from the U.S. government was illegal, although there were pressures to ease economic sanctions. It was only in 2015 that the U.S. government, under Democrat President Barack Obama, restored diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In 1999, while taking the first steps in politics, Trump gave a speech to the Cuban community in Miami, Florida, criticizing Castro and saying that he would not invest a dollar in the island without a change in regime.
Sources from the Federal Office of Foreign Assets Control have said that although they cannot categorically prove Trump’s company did not receive a permit to invest in Cuba, the probability that the office would grant a license for work on behalf of an American casino is “essentially zero.”
But only 10 days ago in Miami, Trump promised that if he was elected president, he would reverse Obama’s opening policies toward Cuba, unless there is “religious and political freedom” on the island.