"They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
Those words about Mexicans from Donald Trump’s presidential announcement speech have been on a near-continuous loop since the comb-covered one uttered them on June 16. Within nine days, Univision, the largest Spanish-language TV network in the country, declared it would cancel its broadcast of Miss USA and Miss Universe, both co-owned by Trump. It set a strong precedent. Four days later, NBCUniversal and Televisa, one of the world’s largest Spanish-language media companies, likewise severed ties with Trump. The next day, Ora TV, a network owned by a Mexican billionaire, hopped on the dump-Trump bandwagon too. Since then, Macy’s, Serta, hair-care company Farouk Systems, and NASCAR have also abandoned him.
But still, two 40-story ultra-luxury properties emblazoned with Trump’s name tower over South Florida: the Trump Hollywood and Trump Sunny Isles. They’re located less than five miles from each other on A1A and owned by the Related Group CEO Jorge Perez, who was born in Argentina to Cuban parents.
It’s unclear how financially intertwined Perez is with Trump. According to the fine print on the Trump Hollywood’s page, the property is “not owned, developed, or sold by Donald J. Trump.” The disclaimer also explained that the Related Group uses the “Trump” name under a license from Trump Marks Hollywood LLC, which “may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.” Resale information about Trump Tower Sunny Isles is posted on the Related Group’s website.
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It’s no secret that Perez considers Trump one of his best friends. They speak several times a month. They’ve done at least five projects together. Donald Trump Jr. once said that Perez and Trump are so close that the plans to build the Trump Hollywood were sketched on the back of a napkin. “That… is an indication of the great relationship that Jorge and my father have. It’s a relationship based on quality,” Trump Jr. told SocialMiami.
“Trump Hollywood is the culmination of all ventures. Hopefully we’ll do more once the economy picks up,” Perez said in the same article.
Perez carries a lot of clout within the Hispanic community. He was born in Argentina in 1949 and moved to Cuba when he was 9 to collect his grandfather’s inheritance. In 1968, he moved to Miami to finish high school. Perez’s Related Group is considered the largest Hispanic-owned business in the United States. It’s ranked near the top of the list of the Hispanic 500 list. In 2013, he was the only Latino on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America. In 2005, Time magazine named Perez one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America, calling him “the Donald Trump of the tropics.”
Will Perez feel the need to distance himself from Trump too? Or will he stand by his pal? We left a few voicemails with Related Group’s media liaison for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back.