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Trump's Name Is Removed From Luxury Hotel In Panama

Mar 6, 2018
Originally published on March 6, 2018 7:21 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Trump name has been chiseled off the front of a luxury hotel in Panama. It's the latest move in an ongoing dispute over management of the oceanfront tower bearing the president's name. The disagreement has recently devolved into physical altercations. And it came to a head yesterday when police escorted the Trump hotel's management team out of the building. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Just hours after Panamanian police officers - some wearing bulletproof vests - removed the Trump managers, a lone worker was out removing the T-R-U-M-P letters off the front of the luxurious tower.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAMMERING)

KAHN: In a video posted by ABC News, the worker pries off each letter with a crowbar and tosses them, one by one, into a pile on the ground. The dispute over the management of the 70-story tower, which includes a hotel, condos and a casino run by the president's hotel company, has been brewing since last year. That's when a Miami-based investor bought up a majority share of the hotel's rooms. Citing mismanagement, loss of income and a tarnished brand name, the new majority owner, Orestes Fintiklis, moved to oust Trump's management team.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ORESTES FINTIKLIS: Panama has made us proud.

KAHN: After a Panamanian official surrounded by police informed Trump's managers of Fintiklis' legal right to take over the hotel, he told reporters how much he admired the country's legal system.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FINTIKLIS: And in appreciation of this, I will be applying and obtaining Panamanian citizenship.

KAHN: In a video posted on The Washington Post's website, Fintiklis, who is from Cyprus, then walked over to the lobby's piano and began playing...

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

FINTIKLIS: (Playing piano and singing in Greek).

KAHN: ...And singing in Greek, the song "Accordeon," an anti-fascist anthem.

It's been a trying 12 days at the Trump Panama hotel. Police have been repeatedly called to break up shoving matches between security guards from both Fintiklis' management team and Trump's. This is the third time a Trump hotel has had the family name removed from it since the president took office last year. The Trump Hotel Group, now run by the president's sons, does not own the Panama property but has a contract to continue managing it through 2031. According to Trump's latest financial disclosure dated last April, he received more than $800,000 in management fees from the property. In a statement, the Trump Hotel says the dispute over management in Panama will ultimately be decided by an arbitrator, and it remains fully confident that it will prevail, recovering all damages and legal costs.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEX MOB'S "SYRUP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.