Trump Reportedly Did Some Shady Business Deals with Cuba During the Embargo

The Republican presidential candidate won't be arrested, but it could cost him the sympathies of Cuban-American voters.

VICE Staff

VICE Staff

Photo by Flickr user Gage Skidmore

According to a new report from Newsweek, Donald Trump went against US trade policy regulations in 1998 to do some illegal business in Cuba, despite the embargo at the time.

The Trump franchise spent at least $68,000 in the country during Fidel Castro's rule on development deals by disguising the money as a charitable operation, according to former company executives and documents obtained by Newsweek. Trump reportedly knew all about it, but that didn't stop him from telling the Cuban American National Foundation in Florida less than a year later that he'd never spend money in the country until Castro was removed from power.

"Investing money in Cuba right now doesn't go to the people of Cuba," Trump said to the crowd, after announcing his first presidential bid back in 1999. "It goes to Fidel Castro. He's a murderer. He's a killer. He's a bad guy in every respect, and, frankly, the embargo must stand if for no other reason than, if it does stand, he will come down."

Not only were his business dealings illegal at the time—not to mention dishonest, against American interests, and a big "screw you" to foreign policy—it could now cost him Cuban American voters, many of whom live in the swing state of Florida and remember Castro's human rights record. In 2015, a Bendixen & Amandi poll showed that 36 percent of Cuban Americans still supported the embargo against Cuba.

According to Newsweek, there's no chance Trump or any of the company's executives will ever be reprimanded for the shady deal, as the statute of limitations has run out on the crime. And at this point, Trump's been caught in so many lies it's hard to know if this will actually do his campaign any damage.

Read: Former Employees Say Trump University Was a 'Fraudulent Scheme'