Donald Trump faced another setback on Wednesday when Spanish chef José Andrés, who has made a name for himself in the United States with a successful chain of restaurants, announced that he was cutting his business ties with the real estate mogul after he made derogatory remarks against Mexicans.
The Spanish-born Andrés, who became a US citizen in 2013, had agreed to open one of his famous restaurants at the new Trump International Hotel, which is being built at the old US Post Office Pavilion in Washington DC.
“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, DC,” Andrés said in a statement.
“More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”
On June 16 as he announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump said that part of the national security problem was caused by illegal migration at the Mexican border.
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists […] I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall,” he said.
Since then, Trump has lost numerous business deals, including with NBC and the Spanish-language television network Univision, which canceled this Sunday night’s telecast of the Miss USA beauty pageant. Both networks said they also won’t broadcast Miss Universe later this year and several candidates, including Miss Mexico, have announced that they won’t compete in the pageant.
Both contests are co-owned by the Trump Organization.
Macy’s, one of the biggest department store chains in the United States, pulled its line of Trump’s menswear from its racks while the PGA announced that its Grand Slam of Golf 2015 tournament scheduled for October would not be held at a golf course he owns in Los Angeles.
ESPN, the 24-hour sports channel, also said it was changing its plans to hold its annual Espy celebrity golf championship at a Trump course, and NASCAR canceled its post-season banquet at the Trump National Doral Hotel in Miami.
Trump filed lawsuits against Univision and NBC and has threatened more legal action against other companies.
In an email sent on Wednesday to The Washington Post, his son, Donald Trump Jr., warned the Spanish chef that he had a 10-year contract and could be sued for damages.
“Our relationship with José Andrés has always been a good one, but simply put, José has no right to terminate or otherwise abandon his obligations under the lease,” the younger Trump wrote.
“In the event Mr Andrés defaults in the performance of his obligations, we will not hesitate to take legal action to recover all unpaid rent for the entire 10-year term together with all attorneys’ fees and additional damages we may sustain. We will also enforce the exclusivity provisions preventing Mr Andrés from opening a competing restaurant anywhere in the DC area.”
While Trump Sr has remained unapologetic for his remarks, his stance on immigration has outraged hundreds of thousands of people.
A petition on change.org that had asked Chef Andrés to cancel his business dealings with the Republican candidate drew nearly 3,000 signatures.
Andrés’ decision was applauded by the Latino-Hispanic community in the United States.
“We commend José Andrés and all those who recognize that there’s no place for Trump’s xenophobic remarks,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Their response sends a clear message: Immigration is about people, not about prejudice and political expediency.”
Anthony Bourdain, one of Andrés’s friends and kitchen colleagues, said on his Twitter account that Spanish chef was “my hero.”
English version by Martin Delfín.