Trump Name Forcibly Removed from Panama Hotel

The President suffered a setback in his other job yesterday.

The identical story with different bylines appears at both WaPo (“Trump’s name is stripped from Panama hotel“) and NYT (“Panama Hotel Owner Declares Victory and Trump’s Name Is Removed“):

A workman wielding a crowbar pried off the silver T-R-U-M-P name from the Trump International Hotel and Tower here in Panama City on Monday as the majority owner of the hotel declared victory in his fight to oust the American president’s family business as managers of the property.

The president’s company, the Trump Organization, fired back with its own statement disputing that it permanently lost control of the property, its only current hotel venture in Latin America. The developments on Monday, the company said, actually “maintain the status quo.”

The dueling interpretations of the day’s events reflected the chaotic nature of a dispute that has become an international spectacle and one of the biggest problems facing the president’s company.

The standoff has been playing out for nearly two weeks behind the scenes in Panamanian courtrooms and ministry offices as well as in plain sight in the hotel’s lobby and corridors.

The ownership dispute at the property has been punctuated by yelling and shoving matches, appearances by armed police officers and visits by government delegations, including Panamanian labor regulators, forensic specialists and a justice of the peace.

The Monday showdown at the hotel began with the arrival of the majority owner, Orestes Fintiklis, 39, followed by a contingent of court officials and police officers — and a Panamanian court order authorizing a change of administration.

Soon after, a workman from the property peeled off the Trump name from the hotel’s sign, dumped the letters in a plastic storage box and hauled them away in the back seat of a Hyundai hatchback. It was unclear who had authorized the workman to erase the Trump name.

“This is a purely commercial dispute that just spun out of control,” Mr. Fintiklis said in a brief impromptu news conference in the hotel’s lobby. “And today this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country.”

“Today Panama has made us proud,” he said. In appreciation of the outcome, the businessman added, he planned to apply for Panamanian citizenship.

Mr. Fintiklis, a Cypriot citizen, then strode to the lobby’s baby grand piano and played and sang “Accordeon,” a popular Greek song about the fight against fascism.

Well, alrighty then.

The fight has been fraught with legal and diplomatic complexities. The court found itself in the awkward position of ruling against a business owned by the American president.

Mr. Trump’s critics and ethics groups had warned of such an outcome when he declined to divest from his company.

The drama in Panama is unfolding while the Trumps are struggling to get two new hotel lines — Scion and American Idea — off the ground in the United States. In the aftermath of the election, the Trumps found that new voluntary ethics requirements they adopted are impeding these new deals.

There’s simply no way to square “ethics” with the President and his top advisors owning a hotel company. “Awkward” doesn’t come close to describing the position foreign governments are in when dealing with offers from the head of the world’s most powerful country to build a hotel in their country.

ABC (“Police evict Trump staff from Panama hotel amid ongoing dispute“) adds:

More than a dozen police wearing bulletproof vests entered the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Panama on Monday morning and evicted the Trump Organization’s staff, a move that comes after weeks of simmering tensions over control of the property.

[…]

Photos of the office obtained by ABC News building indicate that while the Trump employees left peaceably, they allegedly took some of the building’s computer equipment with them.

That’s . . . not a good look.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Latin America, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    More than a dozen police wearing bulletproof vests entered the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Panama on Monday morning and evicted the Trump Organization’s staff, a move that comes after weeks of simmering tensions over control of the property.

    This is not good for Trump’s brand.




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  2. michael reynolds says:

    Yep. I said the Trump brand would be destroyed by his presidency. The Trump brand is now so toxic it has a net negative worth. Slapping ‘Trump’ on a building is the equivalent now of putting up a sign advertising ebola.




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  3. MarkedMan says:

    This is just mind boggling. Somehow the Trumps (and you can bet Donald was involved) decided that sending a message to its existing partners was more important than recruiting new business. Because the message sent out is very clear: To the existing owners: “Don’t mess with us. We will burn the place down rather than accept being fired.” And to potential new owners “Don’t hire the Trumps. They won’t leave if they fail and [see above].”

    Just what kind of shape is their business in that they feel this is their best strategy?




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  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Now if only we could permanently remove his name from the White House.




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  5. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Just what kind of shape is their business in that they feel this is their best strategy?

    Desperate.




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  6. Kathy says:

    @al-Ameda:

    This is not good for Trump’s brand.

    Trump’s not good for the Trump brand.

    I mean, when 60% of your own country dislikes you, well, that can be a problem. Outside of the US it’s even worse.

    Personally, I think he didn’t divest, aside from being congenitally corrupt, because there wasn’t much money to be had by selling off.




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  7. CSK says:

    He probably has to see his name on things in order to believe he exists.




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  8. Kathy says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: In future lists of US presidents, “45” should read “*45”.




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  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:

    …there wasn’t much money to be had by selling off.

    Bingo.




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  10. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    He probably has to see his name on things in order to believe he exists.

    I like this. I have this mental image of Trump fading away a little bit every time his name comes off a building, until there is just a faint, faint video loop of a spittle flecked old man ranting and raving on a street corner at the top of his lungs about the blacks and the mooslims and the immigrants. And a middle aged Haitian-American gentleman out quietly walking his aged poodle stops and looks around. “Did you hear something, Frenchy?”, he asks his dog. The dog ignores him and pees on a fire hydrant, which just happens to be where Trumps leg is. Then the man and the dog lose themselves again in their own thoughts and continue on, leaving the corner empty. A wind picks up and even that tiny ghost of Trumps voice is drowned out.




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  11. grumpy realist says:

    Trump will disappear like Roy Stride at the end of “Waiting for the Galactic Bus” (great book, by the way.)




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  12. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    It seems to me that we’re all going about this backwards. If Trump won’t divest himself from his holdings, the world should announce that it has decided to divest itself from Trump. Just stop doing business with him and be on the lookout for reasons to take full control of holdings and pry his name off them. Kudos to Mr. Fintiklis for being at the crest of a new business wave.




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  13. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Very evocative. I could easily visualize that scene on the street corner.

    I do think it’s a measure of Trump’s pathological insecurity as well as narcissism that he has to plaster his name in huge gold letters over everything in which he has even a small stake.

    I’ve also known since about 1986 that Trump was a joke in upper caste Manhattan, regarded as a vulgarian buffoon by those in the circles he so desperately wanted to crash. It’s a measure of his total lack of self-awareness (or stupidity) that he was never able to figure out the obvious.




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  14. CSK says:

    Gary Cohn has resigned.




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