A longtime Miami-based business partner and friend of President Donald Trump has criticized plans for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, saying that he would not take part in its construction.
“The wall is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life,” real estate developer Jorge Perez told Bloomberg in an interview.
“A wall for what? You think a wall is going to stop people that are hungry?” asked the Argentine-born property developer, who was raised by Cuban parents in Colombia. “Good employment in Mexico, economic growth in Mexico, equality is going to stop people from coming over the border.”
He also told Bloomberg that he “politely” turned down an offer Trump made via email following his inauguration, which invited him to work on the construction of the wall. Earlier in November, a Mexican cement manufacturer offered to help construct the barrier, saying that the company “can’t be choosy” and has to “respect our clients on both sides of the border.”
Perez, known as the “Condo King” in the Floridian city, has previously built Trump-branded buildings across southern Florida and enjoys a personal relationship with Trump, despite his reservations about the wall.
Related Group, the company headed by Perez, is currently engaged in condo projects across Mexico. The Miami mogul said that both the U.S. and Mexican economies could be damaged if Trump insists on making Mexico pay, while imposing a tariff on goods imported from Mexico to finance the project would mean that the wall’s costs will be borne by U.S. consumers in the end.
“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,” Perez told Bloomberg.