The staff of the Trump Organization was ejected Monday from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Panama City after a tense 12-day standoff with hotel owners that erupted into violence. The name “Trump” was quickly stripped off the building’s facade by a worker wielding a hammer and a crowbar.
Trump personnel were escorted out of the building Monday by more than a dozen police officers and a Panamanian judicial official, ABC News reported. But Trump Organization officials said they’ll continue to battle in court to return as the managers of the 70-story building.
Orestes Fintiklis, managing partner of Miami-based Ithaca Capital Partners, which owns most of the units in the hotel-condo complex, ordered Donald Trump’s company out last year, accusing the operation of “abysmal management” and a “brand tarnished beyond repair” that was hurting business. But the Trump Organization refused to surrender its role. Executives said they wouldn’t succumb to “mob-style tactics” and expected to be paid through the company’s 2031 management contract.
Police were called to the building a number of times to keep the peace in recent days, ABC News reported, and a shoving match, with some punches thrown, between hotel and management security guards was captured on tape.
“I am the owner,” said Fintiklis, who declared victory Monday. “Panama has made us proud.”
Fintiklis, a Cyprus national, celebrated by playing a Greek anti-fascism song, “Accordeon,” on a piano in the main tower office.
Tourists posed for photos in front of the newly altered Panama hotel sign with only a ghostly impression of the Trump name.
Trump-branded hotels in Toronto and Lower Manhattan have also removed the Trump name since he became president of the United States.
The Panamanian confrontation sparked renewed criticism from ethics experts, who say Trump’s continued ownership of his businesses is a serious conflict of interest. Trump still owns the Trump Organization through a trust, even though he has turned over management of it to his older sons. The Panamanian confrontation could have erupted into something bigger, with the American president both playing a role in the financial clash and also being in a position to respond as a head of state.
“When the president refused to divest from his businesses, there was always the fear that there would be some sort of incident at one of his overseas entities, and his judgment and loyalty could be tested,” Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, told Business Insider in an email. “That fear has been realized.”