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article imageDonald Trump company reported to have done business in Cuba

By Marcus Hondro     Sep 30, 2016 in Politics
According to a report in Newsweek, a major company controlled by Donald Trump did business in Cuba over 15 years ago in spite of the U.S. trade embargo. Trump denied the allegations but his campaign manager seemed to admit them.
Trump and Cuban embargo
Published on Thursday, the Newsweek story said that "according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings" Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, now known as Trump Entertainment Inc., secretly violated the embargo to do business with Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1998.
Trump business consultants were sent to Cuba to explore doing business there. With Trump's knowledge, the U.S. consulting firm 'Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp.' instructed Trump's company on how to make the trip appear legal by linking the expenditures to a charity.
"Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval," Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald wrote.
At that time Trump was a vocal supporter of the embargo and spoke out forcefully against doing business in Cuba. While Trump denies the story, Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, seemed to acknowledge but downplay it.
“They paid money, as I understand, in 1998," Conway told reporters. "I know we’re not supposed to talk about years ago when it comes to the Clintons, but with Trump there is no statute of limitations."
Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida who lost to Trump in the GOP primaries but now supports the Republican presidential nominee, did not downplay it. He called the report "troubling."
“The article makes some very serious and troubling allegations,” he said in a statement. “I will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.”
Clinton: Trump broke law
The commercial, economic and financial embargo, also called 'the blockade,' is still in place but President Barack Obama has lifted some sanctions, including travel sanctions, and established an embassy there. Last March during a trip to Cuba, the first time a U.S. president visited there in 88 years, he urged Congress to lift the embargo.
Hillary Clinton has said the time to do so has come and polls find a large majority of Americans agree. But on the campaign trail in Iowa, Clinton said violating the embargo was a grave matter and added that Trump has been accused of doing so in the past. She called for him to disclose his dealings with Cuba.
"We already know about his tax returns that he refuses to release," she said today. "But today we learned about his efforts to do business in Cuba, which appear to violate U.S. law — certainly flout American foreign policy.
"He has consistently misled people in responding to questions about whether he was attempting to do business in Cuba," the Democrat nominee added. "So this adds to the long list of actions and statements that raise doubts about his temperament and qualification to be president and commander in chief."
The embargo, which began in 1960, is criticized for causing hardship to the Cuban people. Every year since 1992 the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution demanding an end to the embargo and calling it a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law.
While campaigning, Trump said he "did not do business in Cuba" but reporter Eichenwald tweeted a document that appears to prove he did.
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