Despite a longstanding friendship with Donald Trump, Miami’s condo king has spoken out against the president’s plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and his immigration and trade policies.
Jorge Perez, chairman and CEO of the Miami-based Related Group, declined an email invitation following the inauguration from the president himself to work on the wall, Bloomberg reported. He called the plan “idiotic,” warning that it could spark a trade war with Mexico.
“The wall is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life,” Perez told Bloomberg. “A wall for what? You think a wall is going to stop people that are hungry? Good employment in Mexico, economic growth in Mexico, equality is going to stop people from coming over the border.”
Perez commended Trump’s business and marketing chops, but said that the president’s attempts to force Mexico to pay for the wall would hurt both U.S. and Mexico’s economies, as well as damage relations between the two. He said he declined being considered for a potential role as the undersecretary of housing and urban development under Ben Carson.
“No self-respecting country will say, ‘Yes, build the wall not to allow the free flow of people between two countries – and we’re going to pay for it,” he said. “Any Mexican that would say that wouldn’t get elected dog catcher.”
Perez, a billionaire developer, was born in Argentina to Cuban parents, grew up in Colombia, and has projects totaling $2 billion in the pipeline in Mexico. Perez has said in the past that he would like to pass the business onto his sons, but told Bloomberg this week that he’s considering taking the Related Group public. [Bloomberg] – Katherine Kallergis