Police had to be called to Trump’s luxury hotel in Panama Tuesday after rival teams of security guards grappled in a stairwell as a business dispute for control over the property.
Video of the brawl shows a security official work for President Donald Trump’s family hotel business screaming ‘Out!’ in Spanish as condo owners attempted to enter a room filled with computer equipment.
Men in suits wrestled in a stairway before a large man aligned with the Trump Hotel team slapped the phone out of the hand of the person recording the confrontation.
Panama City police responded to calls about the scuffle, which took place in an area belonging to a condo association that operates independently of the hotel but shares the building.
Rival teams of security guards grappled in a stairwell Tuesday as a business dispute for control over the Trump luxury hotel in Panama mounted. Pictured center is the Trump Panama condos
Panama City police have had to respond to similar scuffles at the property at least four times this month. Thy are pictured Tuesday before removing several security guards from the property
One of Trump’s guards was escorted by police off the property after the incident, but was not arrested, according to officers on the scene.
The video was taken by someone opposed to Trump, who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity out of concern for being drawn into current and future litigation over the property.
The minor brawl was at least the fourth time the police have been called to the property in the last week, and is part of a bitter fight over Trump Hotels’ contract to manage a 70-story luxury high rise on Panama’s waterfront.
Led by Miami-based private equity fund Ithaca Capital, the owners of the condo-hotel units voted to remove Trump’s name from the building and fire his hotel management company.
The minor brawl was at least the fourth time the police have been called to the property in the last week, and is part of a bitter fight over Trump Hotels’ contract to manage a 70-story luxury high rise on Panama’s waterfront
Ithaca’s manager, Orestes Fintiklis, has alleged financial misconduct by Trump Hotels dating back years.
He also said Trump’s statements on immigration have rendered his brand toxic in Latin America.
Trump Hotels has refused to acknowledge it had been fired, citing a commitment by Fintiklis not to challenge Trump’s contract when he bought 202 of the 369 hotel units at the property last year.
When Fintinklis, who is also head of the hotel owners’ association, invited a team of Marriott hotel executives to tour the property last year, Trump Hotel staff ran them off.
The dispute over whether the president’s company can be fired has already led to legal complaints in Panama, the United States and private arbitration.
But the legal battle has not made much progression in months, with the two sides deadlocked over the selection of the arbitration panel.
The already tense situation deteriorated last week after Fintiklis attempted to fire hotel managers loyal to Trump.
According to two witnesses, private security blocked Fintiklis from delivering the pink slips, and refused to let him check into one of his firm’s 202 hotel rooms or eat in the property’s restaurant.
Led by Miami-based private equity fund Ithaca Capital, the owners of the condo-hotel units voted to remove Trump’s name from the building and fire his hotel management company
Ithica’s manager Orestes Fintiklis has alleged financial misconduct and says Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric has made his name a liability in Latin America
On Tuesday, Fintiklis’ lawyer told the AP that Fintiklis was physically and verbally abused by ‘gorillas’ working for Trump.
‘We are going to ask for a police search,’ attorney Sarai Blaisdell told the AP.
Fintiklis himself filed a complaint with Panamanian police on Friday, alleging that he was blocked from his property and that he and others witnessed Trump staff shredding business records after hours, something Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten flatly denied.
The Panamanian ministry said on Monday it was investigating Fintiklis’ complaint that Trump is illegally refusing to vacate his property.
In a statement issued Monday, Trump Hotels accused Fintiklis of using a ‘rogue private security team’ to ‘physically take over the management of the Hotel.’
According to witnesses and the video obtained by AP, a room containing the hotels’ closed circuit television system and various servers was a key point of conflict both over the weekend and on Tuesday.
On Friday, Trump staff locked themselves inside the room – it is located on the condominium owners association’s property – the condo association cut power to the room, inadvertently killing the hotel’s phone and internet connection. Power was restored to those systems later Friday evening.
Separately, police escorted Panamanian labor ministry staff to the property on Tuesday. The purpose of their visit could not immediately be ascertained.