Elections

Doral-based Univision dumps Miss Universe over Donald Trump’s Mexican ‘rapists’ comment

Donald Trump and Miss Universe Paulina Vega attend The 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant winner press conference at Trump National Doral on January 25, 2015 in Doral, Florida.
Donald Trump and Miss Universe Paulina Vega attend The 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant winner press conference at Trump National Doral on January 25, 2015 in Doral, Florida. Getty Images

Last week, Donald Trump the presidential candidate called Mexican immigrants “rapists.” On Thursday, television giant Univision called Donald Trump the beauty-pageant king something else: fired.

Univision cut ties with Miss Universe, the annual contest owned in part by Trump, over insults the billionaire Republican real-estate mogul hurled at Mexican immigrants — the biggest Hispanic group in the country — during his campaign announcement.

The Doral-based network, which attracts the largest number of Spanish-speaking viewers in the world, said it will not air the Miss USA pageant as planned on July 12. That competition is also part of the Miss Universe Organization, which Trump co-owns with NBCUniversal.

“At Univision, we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country,” Univision Communications said in a statement.

In an e-mail to the Miami Herald, NBCUniversal said Trump’s opinions “do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration.”

Trump said in television interviews that he intends to sue Univision over breaching its five-year contract — inked just five months ago — with the pageant organization.

The network’s decision prompted local elected officials in Miami-Dade County and the cities of Miami and Doral — all majority Hispanic — to distance themselves from Trump, a part-time Palm Beach County resident with significant South Florida real-estate holdings. He most recently tried to renovate and take over management of the public Crandon Park golf course on Key Biscayne.

His portfolio includes the Trump National Doral Miami resort, located a mere two miles from the Univision headquarters. Miss Universe contestants stayed there earlier this year as they prepared for the pageant, held at Florida International University.

Trump said in a feisty interview with Hialeah-based Telemundo — Univision’s chief rival and a division of NBCUniversal — that he stands by what he said.

“I love the Mexican people. I love Mexico,” he said. But Mexicans have out-negotiated Americans on trade deals, he said, and the U.S. has failed to secure the border. “Many people are coming in — and I’m not talking Mexico, I’m talking from all over the world — you’re going to have terrorists coming from the southern border, there’s no question about it.”

When anchor José Díaz-Balart did, in fact, question that assertion, saying that none of the 9/11 terrorists or other attackers had crossed the border illegally, Trump fought back: “You don’t know that.”

On April 4, 2013, Trump, a prolific tweeter, lauded Miami Hispanics: “I have gotten to know many Spanish speaking people as the owner of Trump National Doral in Miami. They are smart, hard working and great,” he wrote.

But in his rambling June 16 speech in New York City — at Trump Tower, naturally — Trump blamed Mexico for a host of problems plaguing the U.S.

“They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity,” he said. “And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” he added. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

“It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably from the Middle East,” he concluded.

Univision said Thursday its news division will continue to cover the U.S. presidential race, including Trump. The network plans to co-host, along with The Washington Post, a Republican candidate forum ahead of March 2016 primaries. Several states with heavily Hispanic voter populations hold contests that month, including Florida.

Right now, Trump would qualify for the first GOP debate, to be held this August. Three surveys of New Hampshire voters published this week have shown Trump in second place, after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — though Trump’s populist positions and past praise for Democrat Hillary Clinton could create problems for him down the line.

Univision split with Trump a day after Colombian pop singer J Balvin announced he was canceling a planned performance at the pageant — his first on national television — after learning of Trump’s speech.

“We’re talking about our roots, our culture, our values,” he told Billboard magazine. “This isn’t about being punitive, but about showing leadership through social responsibility. His comments weren’t just about Mexicans, but about all Latins in general.”

Trump’s remarks drew official condemnation from the governments of Mexico, Guatemala and Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Trump a “bandit” and a “thief” and ridiculed the tycoon’s unique hairstyle. “He who messes with Mexico, messes with Venezuela,” Maduro said two days after Trump’s announcement.

At least one Mexican manufacturer began producing piñatas with Trump’s likeness for children to bash at birthday parties and receive candy once they are broken apart.

Closer to home, city of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado revealed Thursday that Miss Universe representatives expressed interest several months ago in moving the pageant to AmericanAirlines Arena. Trump’s staff called him to mention their interest and to discuss whether the city would assist the pageant with public money.

Regalado said he doesn’t know where talks to move the pageant stand, but said his administration won’t contribute to a Trump production after his remarks.

“I don’t think that he should be welcome in the city of Miami at all after the things that he has said,” Regalado said.

A consultant for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, whose political action committee accepted a $15,000 donation from Trump in January, said Thursday the group will be returning the money — which Gimenez had personally requested from a Trump aide.

“Obviously we’re in disagreement with the statement that Mr. Trump made,” said Jesse Manzano-Plaza of the Miami-Dade Residents First PAC. “This is a very diverse community. And we think that those statements don’t reflect some of the values and principles that this community stands for.”

Doral Mayor Luigi Boria, who awarded Trump a key to the city in March, said Thursday that Trump “offended the Hispanic community.”

“We have to take this as an opportunity because I know we can teach Mr. Trump the reality of the community. Latinos, we have contributed a lot to this great country,” Boria said.

None of the local politicians had taken action after Trump delivered his speech. It was Univision’s decision that prompted them to speak up.

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