Trump’s team have already denied these accusations and Hillary Clinton hasn’t lost the chance to take advantage of the article and accuse her opponent.
HAVANA TIMES — In the US presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a lot has been said about Mexico, the conflict in the Middle East, Russia and China, but Cuba hasn’t been talked about much.
That was until Thursday…
When there were only 39 days left to the US general elections, the “Cuban factor” blew up in the middle of a campaign between Democrats and Republicans, BBC World reports.
The reason? Accusations against Trump of having supposedly violated the US embargo against Cuba published in the magazine, Newsweek.
Trump’s team have already denied these accusations and Hillary Clinton hasn’t lost the chance to take advantage of this article to accuse her opponent of putting his personal interests above the laws of his country.
In any event, Cuba has appeared for the first time (and just like the many other times it has in past elections) in the middle of this campaign for the US presidential race.
The Newsweek article was given the following heading on the cover of the magazine’s last edition. “The Castro connection: how Trump’s company violated the US embargo against Cuba.”
The article claims that the millionaire tried to conduct business tied to tourism on the island in 1998, in spite of the restrictions imposed by the US.
According to Newsweek, the company Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, with the tycoon’s knowledge, contracted a consultant to explore the possibility of “establishing itself” in Cuba.
This is why, according to the article, the firm Seven Arrows Investment held meetings in Havana with Cuban government officials, bankers and businessmen.
Newsweek mentions documents that indicate that 68,000 USD were spent on that trip to the island.
It also quotes a former Trump executive who spoke on condition of anonymity, claiming that the current presidential candidate had full knowledge of the mission in Cuba.
One of the Republican candidates’ “iron-clad rules” since over half a century has been to pamper the Cuban exiles who settled in the state of Florida.
The large bulk of people (and votes) who chose to go to Miami instead of staying on the island with Castro as their leader in 1959, have historically been on the Republican side due to their hard-line anti-Communist stance.
Two weeks ago, Trump advanced that he would revert the thawing process between the US and Cuba if he were elected to be president.
“Don’t run afoul of Florida’s expatriate Cuban community. It’s one of those iron-clad rules that Republican presidential nominees have obeyed since the rise of Fidel Castro,” explained BBC reporter in the US, Anthony Zurcher.
The reporter adds that, apparently, this is “another rule that Donald Trump has broken.”
In 1998, the embargo against Cuba was in full-effect and had been recently strengthened with the Helms-Burton Act.
By confirming the fact that the Republican candidate explored the possibility of investing in Cuba that year, Trump would not only have gone against US law, but against his own recent speeches where he rejects establishing relations between Cuba and the US.
Florida is one of the country’s “key states” or “undecided states” which will be decisive in establishing who will win these upcoming elections.
It’s a state where “every vote is precious”, Antony Zurcher points out.
Trump recently went to have coffee at the famous Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, a meeting place for Cuban exiles, and it wasn’t without reason.
In the last few weeks, Trump has multiplied his meetings with the Latino community in the US.
Two weeks beforehand, also in Miami, the millionaire tycoon promised to revert the entire thawing process between the US and Cuba should he be elected president.
“We will support the Cuban people in their fight against Communist oppression,” Trump said on that occasion.
The Republican assures us that, if he wins the election, he will revert all of what he calls Obama’s “concessions” to the island “unless the Castro regime agrees to our demands.”
In this regard, Trump isn’t very different from his Republican predecessors.
Just like him, former Republican candidates George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney also had coffee at the Versailles during their respective campaigns.
Coming just a few weeks before the election of November 8th, the consequences of the Newsweek article are still difficult to gauge.
One of the first people to state their concern was Cuban-American Republican Senator, Marco Rubio.
“I hope the Trump campaign is going to come forward and answer some questions about this, because if what the article says is true – and I’m not saying that it is, we don’t know with 100% certainty – I’d be deeply concerned about it,” said the politician who ran against Trump in the Republican primaries.
After the primaries, Rubio revealed his support for the current Republican candidate’s campaign.
Just like Trump is doing now, other Republican candidates also visited the Cuban-American community in Florida in order to win their support.
The Democrat party, in contrast, hasn’t lost time in taking advantage of this article to comprimise the millionaire’s chance in the upcoming election.
Hillary Clinton herself has accused Trump of “putting his personal and business interests ahead of the laws and values and the policies of the United States of America” by trying to enter the Cuban market.
Thus far, Trump’s team have given very few answers.
The Republican candidate’s spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, has limited herself to saying that she does know about some financial transfers in 1998, but that Trump never invested money in Cuba.
A few words more, a couple less, this was how Cuba has been put at the center of one of the world’s most important presidential elections, yet again.