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Workers strip Trump name from Panama hotel as executives ousted from offices
March 22 2018, 05:33 | Perry Erickson
Panama: Trump hotel standoff ends as president surrenders physical control
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.
"Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country", Fintiklis told reporters.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"Many of us came to work at the hotel precisely because of the Trump brand - it meant quality" said one bellhop, who did not want his name used for fear of reprisals.
The Panama hotel would be the fourth property that removed Trump's name since he won the 2016 presidential election.
Anibal Herrera, a lawyer for Fintiklis, said that while 10 Trump management employees had been fired - though they refused to leave the property or attend labor hearings - none of the 230 other employees has anything to fear.
Fintiklis was actively trying to remove Trump's name from the hotel.
The Trump Organization previously described Fintiklis' efforts as "pure thuggery". He sued in NY and flew to Panama in February to fire Trump Organization staff, but they refused to let him past the lobby.
Fintiklis quickly changed course after the deal closed in August, arguing that alleged mismanagement by Trump's staff and the deterioration of the Trump brand rendered keeping the property in Trump hands impossible.
"Our investment has no future so long as the hotel is managed by an incompetent operator whose brand has been tarnished beyond fix", Fintiklis wrote the owners in January.
A Panamanian judicial official told the AP a statement would come later in the day. In January, Fintiklis invited a team from Marriott International to tour the property without informing the Trump Hotel's management team, prompting them to turn Marriott's group away at the door. "He then played a song on the piano for the gathered onlookers with lyrics that, when translated, said, 'Fascism will not prevail'".
The most recent and intense feuding began February 22, when the Miami-based Fintiklis came to the property with termination notices for Trump's management team.
"Today Panama has showcased stable institutions, rule of law and investor-friendly legal framework", Mr Fintiklis said in a brief statement.
Speaking from the hotel's administrative offices Monday, Fintiklis called the fight a commercial matter that had spun out of control and praised Panamanian authorities.
"When that effort failed", the Trump Organization statement says the owners "resorted to thug-like, mob style tactics, repeatedly attempting to force their way into Trump Hotels' offices, infiltrate and disrupt its computer systems and threatening and intimidating any employee of the Hotel that resisted". CIM Group signed a deal with the Trump Organization in November to remove its name from the former Trump Soho in NY - now the Dominick - citing poor performance since the election.
Within two hours, a man using a hammer and a crowbar began stripping Trump signage from a stone plaque in front of the building.