2018-03-05 —

Workers began removing the Trump name from the only Trump-branded hotel in Latin America on Monday after the majority owner of the Trump Panama hotel won a legal battle to eject the president's company as its manager.

In early afternoon, a worker hooked a crowbar behind the "T" in the large "Trump" sign outside the hotel along Panama City's waterfront and hit the crowbar with a hammer. After a few blows, the letter was pried loose and fell.


Earlier Monday, majority owner Orestes Fintiklis -- a Cypriot businessman now based in Miami -- said that a Panamanian legal official had allowed him to take over the hotel's administration.


After the official's decision, Fintiklis said he had won a weeks-long legal battle with the Trump Organization, which he blames for the hotel's declining revenue and low occupancy rates.

"Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country," Fintiklis told reporters. He declared that he was so impressed by Panama's legal system that he would soon become a Panamanian citizen himself.


If it wasn't the end of the standoff at the Trump hotel, it seemed at least to be a turning point. For the past week, this 70-story building in Panama's capital -- designed to resemble a billowing sail -- has been the scene of shoving matches between rival security guards, repeated visits by police, power outages and reports of documents being shredded.

Now, for the first time, Fintiklis seemed in control.


The Trump hotel in Panama opened in 2011. The president's company does not own the building, but it had a contract to manage the hotel until 2031.

Fintiklis bought 202 of the hotel's 369 room units last year, assumed control of the hotel's condominium owners association and quickly moved to kick out the Trump Organization.


[Fintiklis] noted that, in 58 units, the owners had lost so much money on rentals that they were refusing to pay their condo fees.

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