balsera

Freddy Balsera, left, CEO of Balsera Communications

NEW YORK – Angry Trump insiders in New York claim four Hispanic political operatives with extensive business ties in Latin America who have supported President Obama and Hillary Clinton are exploiting their brief courtesy meeting with Trump.

A Trump insider said that in interviews with Latin American media outlets, the businessmen are characterizing the 15-minute meeting they had with Trump last Thursday as a hemisphere-wide endorsement by the president-elect of their business activities.

The Trump insider told WND on condition of anonymity said the four are making statements that Trump doesn’t stand by and are not official policy.

The group visiting Trump featured Freddy Balsera, a media entrepreneur in Coral Gables, Florida, and a Hillary Clinton fundraiser.

Immediately after the meeting with Trump, the insider said, Balsera began telling media in Argentina he was the man to see regarding the Trump organization.

The meeting at Trump’s corporate offices in Manhattan, the insider said, was Trump’s desire “to show some goodwill meeting with a group of Hispanics who represented they wanted to help Trump build bridges in Latin and South America,” but the president-elect was “exploited.”

“Trump was used,” he said. “It was a 15-minute courtesy meeting, and Trump truly had no idea who these guys were really were.

“Now, after backing Hillary to the hilt, Balsera and the three others Hispanics Balsera brought with him from Miami are trying to make money off their 15-minute ‘meet and greet’ with the president-elect.”

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Sonia Diaz of Balsera Communications denied the company was utilizing the meeting with Trump for marketing purposes.

“Mr. Trump did not endorse Mr. Balsera or the others who attended the meeting,” she told WND. “Mr. Balsera is an expert on Latin and South America. He and the others met with Mr. Trump to share their views.”

WND asked her about newspaper reports positioning Balsera as the “go-to man” for Trump in Latin America.

“We cannot control what the newspapers say about us,” she said. “We are not using the meeting with Trump as an endorsement or to market for new clients.”

She said Balsera “is a member of the public, and I suspect Mr. Trump will want to meet with experts on Latin and South America to share with him their views.”

Last March, however, Balsera sent out a tweet boasting that he was heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to open a Balsera Communications office “as part of” President Obama’s visit to the city.

The tweet was cited in a New York Observer feature on Balsera that reported he is under investigation for money laundering in Argentina.

Diaz said she knew nothing about published reports that named Balsera in the Argentina money-laundering investigation.

Influential network

The Observer described Balsera last October as “a Democratic operative with a big, influential political network in Florida,” where he claims to have “a huge following” with Hispanic voters.

He was an Obama bundler and a member of Obama’s national finance committee who served in 2008 as a media surrogate for the then-candidate.

Balsera’s press announcement last March regarding the new venture in Argentina noted he was then serving as a director for Correct the Record, a George Soros-funded SuperPAC run by leftist political operative David Brock, founder of Media Matters, to support Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.

The Observer last August described Correct the Record as a group that “hires Internet trolls to spread pro-Clinton ideologies on the Internet.”

Last Friday, one day after the meeting with Trump, Balsera and his three colleagues were interviewed by the Clarin, an important daily newspaper in Argentina.

They described themselves as “invited guests” of the president-elect.

“The meeting,” Balsera explained to the Clarin, came about because unnamed “common friends” believed it would be a good idea for Trump “to sit down with experts to talk about the region comprised by Latin and South America.”

“Trump understands the importance of Argentina and he is thankful Argentina is ready to strengthen that relationship,” Balsera said. “I am very clear that Trump considers that Argentina is a very important axis of the United States policy for Latin America.”

Balsera’s Twitter account identifies himself as an “expert at communicating political and public policy messages to Hispanics.”

Accompanying Balsera were David Dukenfield, the president of Balsera Communications, who took a leave from the company in 2014 to serve as assistant secretary for public affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration; C. J. Giménez, the lobbyist son of Carlos A. Giménez, the current mayor of Miami-Dade County in Florida; and Julio Ligorría, who presented his credentials as Guatemala’s ambassador to the U.S. to President Obama on Sept. 5, 2013.

Until recently, Giménez served as a vice president and general counsel at Balsera Communications.

On Oct. 9, 2016, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez, a Republican, announced during a television debate broadcast by WFOR-TV in Doral, Florida, that he would vote for Hillary Clinton, saying he wished Trump would step down as the GOP nominee.

“I’m not going to endorse anybody,” Giménez told WFOR’s Jim DeFede during a mayoral debate with challenger Raquel Regalado, a Republican who said she would not endorse anyone in the presidential race. “But between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I’m not voting for Donald Trump. Obviously, I must be voting for Hillary Clinton.”

The Miami Herald also reported Mayor Giménez subsequently returned a campaign contribution Trump had made to Giménez’s re-election campaign, expressing disdain for comments Trump made concerning Hispanics.

In 2014, Trump golfed with Giménez as Trump was preparing a bid to take over the local Crandon Park golf course in a proposed $10 million rehabilitation project.

Ultimately, Giménez recused himself from the deal, concerned about a conflict of interest, because his son, Carlos J. Giménez, was at that time working as a lobbyist for Trump’s resort in Doral.

In 1988, Ligorría founded InterImage LatinoAmerica, S.A., a company based in Guatemala and Panama that “provides consulting services in communications and public affairs to multinational enterprises and governments throughout Latin America.” Ligorría partnered with Carlos J. Giménez to form the Hemispheric Consulting Group, a Washington-based lobbying business aimed at advocating for businesses headquartered in Latin America.

‘He knew everything we were talking about’

Under the headline “Trump would like to know more about Venezuela and Central America,” the Spanish international newspaper El País, headquartered in Spain, reported last Friday that the president-elect had “received Latin American experts” in his Trump Tower corporate offices the previous day.

El País named Balsera and the three other Hispanic attendees, not reporting their various ties to Balsera Communication, stressing instead various ties each can claim to Republican politics.

“Obviously, I have a long-standing relationship with Mr. Trump and the organization,” Giménez told the Miami Herald. “We had a discussion with folks on his team that thought it would be beneficial for us to sit down with him for a few minutes and bring up issues related to Latin America.”

The Miami Herald noted Balsera told El País that Trump “was very interested in knowing our opinion about what’s going on, about what’s going to happen and about what has yet to happen” in Venezuela. Trump also inquired about Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and opposition leader Leopoldo López, both political prisoners in the South American country.

“He [Trump] knew everything we were talking about and responded with good questions and comments,” Giménez told the Herald. “We want to see freedom come back to Venezuela, and prosperity.”

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