Where controversial world leaders have stayed in NYC: PHOTOS
September 25, 2012 05:00PM
By Leigh Kamping-Carder
Since 2009, an anti-Iran advocacy group called United Against Nuclear Iran has campaigned to pressure New York City hotels to refuse to host Ahmadinejad. Several properties where he was scheduled to stay or speak have subsequently declined to let the Iranian president return, including the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel, the Intercontinental New York Barclay and the New York Helmsley Hotel.
Ahmadinejad stayed at the Hilton Manhattan East in 2010, spurring protests from the group United Against Nuclear Iran. Another sticking point? The Iranian president's personal chef made “the whole hotel stink like hell,” a source told the New York Post.
The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had a hard time pitching his tent – literally — when he was in town for the General Assembly in 2009. After unsuccessfully trying to bed down in Central Park and New Jersey, Gaddafi’s entourage settled on the grounds of Donald Trump’s 213-acre Bedford, Conn., estate.
It was not clear where Robert Mugabe stayed while in New York for the 2010 Assembly, but one keen-eyed local spotted the dictator perusing the aisles of a Duane Reade store on 52nd Street. The observer, whose parents came from Zimbabwe, managed to snap a cell phone photo before Mugabe was escorted to a waiting limo.
When Yasser Arafat attended the U.N. convention in 1974, officials suggested he stay in a “secluded area,” such as Governor’s Island, the New York Times reported. Instead, the Palestinian leader chose more posh quarters: the Waldorf Astoria.
When Cuba’s Fidel Castro attended his first Assembly in 1960, he stayed at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, reportedly plucking and dressing live chickens (which he kept in his room), discarding cigars on the carpet and using camp stoves he erected in the bathrooms to cook his food.
The United Nations kicked off its 67th General Assembly this week, giving world leaders a chance to debate the most pressing issues facing the globe. But for New York City hotel owners, another issue is afoot: whether or to host the dictators and despots — normally considered sworn enemies of the U.S. — who are in town for the annual convention.
Let’s just say, some diplomacy is involved.
Leader’s like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe who might otherwise be banned from traveling in the U.S. are allowed in when it’s for official U.N. business. But that hasn’t stopped activist groups from trying to limit where they stay in the city.
This year, Midtown’s Warwick Hotel got into hot water for agreeing to put up Ahmadinejad for the second time. An alleged bombing victim sued the hotel to claim Ahmadinejad’s reservation deposit to satisfy a $12 million judgment he has against Iran. The suit was dismissed on Friday — paving the way for the Iranian president’s stay there.
Find out where other controversial leaders, past and present, have hung their proverbial hats while in town for the U.N. General Assembly.