Trump Denounces Cuban Government But He Applied to Register His Trademark in Cuba in 2008

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By Giselle Balido

September 22, 2020

His attempts to negotiate with the island started at least a decade earlier, when Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts paid a consulting firm for a business trip to Cuba on its behalf.  

Vowing that he would not do business in Cuba until the Caribbean nation was free from Communist dictatorship has been President Donald Trump’s rallying cry to his staunch Republican Cuban base in Florida, a battleground state he needs to win to retain the presidency.

But despite this promise, in 2008 Trump applied to register his trademark on the island for commercial activities, including investing in real estate, hotels, casinos, and golf courses, according to a Miami Herald report. 

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According to the Cuban Industrial Property Office database, in October of 2008 Donald J. Trump hired a Cuban lawyer to submit the application on his behalf. The address listed on the application was that of the Trump Organization: 725 Fifth Ave., in New York.

The trademark was not approved until March 2010 and expired in 2018, when Trump had already become president.

Repeated Attempts

But his attempts to negotiate with Cuba started at least a decade earlier. According to a Newsweek report, in 1998 a Trump company, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, paid a consulting firm for a business trip to Cuba on its behalf, a likely violation of the embargo.

Then, in 2013, executives from the Trump Organization visited Cuba to scout an area in east Havana, looking into the possibility of building a golf course, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Three years later, in 2016, while Trump was a presidential candidate, the CEO of Iberostar, a Spanish hotel chain, revealed that the Trump Organization had shown interest in building hotels on the island.

A Troubling Double Standard

Yet throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has denounced the Cuban regime, often claiming before Miami Cubans that to negotiate with the dictatorship would negate the sacrifice made by those who died during the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

His apparent firm stance against the island’s regime, as he imposed new sanctions on the Cuban government while strengthening the embargo on June 2017, has given him the support of a large number of Cuban American voters in Florida.

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But even in Republican-heavy South Florida, there are those who never bought into this rhetoric, but saw it as a ploy to attract the Cuban vote.

“Where is the Cuban American uproar on this betrayal of what is so important to them: no trade relations with Castro’s Cuba?” Maria D. [pseudonym], a Cuban American wife and mother working in higher education and living in Miami, Florida, told The Americano.

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José X. Hernández from Miami, who says he lives part of the year in Spain to escape the spectre of dictatorship he feels growing in the US under Trump, calls out the president for his “hypocrisy”: “I thought Trump was all against dealing with the Cuban government, and now you tell me he sent people to explore business deals with the Castros? This guy is fooling Cuban Americans into voting for him, while he sneaks around trying to snag a deal with the Communists!”

Vivian Santos, a Cuban American business owner from Miami, told The Americano that she is already seeing the irony in that those who have opposed the Castro regime for more than 60 years are the same people who support Donald Trump, a man who repeatedly tried to deal with their enemy.

“I’m having a fight, in my head only, with my pro-Trump Cuban American family and friends,” Santos said. “It’s heartbreaking that they can’t see the parallels between Castro and Trump, especially the fact that Trump, like the dead dictator, has succeeded in dividing our families.”


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