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Trump looked into hotels in Cuba ‘no more than 6 months ago,’ Spanish
exec claims
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI AND NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
pmazzei@miamiherald.com

As a candidate, President-elect Donald Trump looked into the possibility
of establishing hotels in Cuba, according to the head of a major Spanish
chain.

Miguel Fluxà, chief executive of the Group, said at a public
event Thursday that Trump’s interest in Cuba existed “no more than six
months ago.”

“Trump until recently has tried to negotiate for hotels he wanted to
have in Cuba,” Fluxà said at a 60-year anniversary event for Iberostar
in Mallorca, according to the Spanish newspaper ABC.

“If American continues, Havana will be a top-of-the-line global
destination, as it already is,” Fluxà added.

He announced that his company planned further investments in Cuba — and
thanked the Cuban government — when he mentioned Trump.

Fluxà did not respond to a request for comment from el Nuevo Herald.

In a statement, the Trump Organization said it “owns and manages
billions of dollars of five-star hotels, luxury real estate, and golf
courses worldwide.”

“In the last 12 months, many major competitors have sought opportunities
in Cuba,” the company said. “While it is important for us to understand
the dynamics of the markets that our competitors are exploring, we do
not intend to expand into Cuba nor have we ever done any business there.”

Trump tweeted Monday, two days after former Cuban leader ’s
death, that as president he may “terminate” President Barack Obama’s
opening to Cuba unless the island’s communist regime agrees to more
concessions.

On Oct. 21, Cuba’s tourism ministry invited the Trump Organization — and
a number of other U.S. hotel and tourism operators — to the 34th Havana
International Fair, which began in late October. According to an email
obtained by el Nuevo Herald, among the invitees was Jason Greenblatt,
executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Trump
Organization. Also listed was an executive from Starwood, which has
already signed deals to operate hotels in Cuba, and representatives of
other U.S. hotel chains whose interest in the Cuban market has not been
made public.

Greenblatt did not respond to a request for comment from the Miami
Herald. He was one of the Trump executives who, according to Bloomberg
Businessweek, visited Cuba as late as 2013 to explore investing in a
golf course on the island.

Another one of the Trump representatives who traveled to Cuba, Ed Russo,
denied to the Miami Herald that the Trump Organization has had any
recent interest in establishing hotels in Cuba.

“No, not at all,” Russo said, adding that it’s outsiders who have tried
to get the company to jump in. “There are so many people pitching us
offers, it’s crazy: ‘Come to this country, look at this property, buy
this golf course.’”

“There’s no golf course in Cuba — absolutely not,” continued Russo, who
lives in Key West. “Something has to happen at some point in time” in
Cuba, he noted, but Trump “isn’t focused on that, I don’t think.”

Russo suggested that people with no knowledge of Trump’s business like
to drop Trump’s name because he’s now president-elect.

“One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are people out
there that like to turn ‘I saw Donald Trump walk by’ into ‘I had a long
conversation with Donald Trump’ — and it never happened,” he said.

Trump admitted to Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 in October that
“some meetings” took place. In March, Trump told CNN he’d be interested
in opening a hotel in Cuba “at the right time, when we’re allowed to do it.”

“Right now, we’re not,” Trump said.

This story has been updated with the Trump Organization’s statement.

Source: Trump looked into opening hotels in Cuba, Spanish executive says
| Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article118435048.html

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