Donald Trump has a Mexico problem.
No, not that one -- a $12 million one involving the 2007 Miss Universe pageant.
Behind the headlines over Trump’s Mexico-bashing remarks is a legal dispute between the billionaire presidential candidate and two Mexican businessmen. Trump says they owe him millions from the beauty contest eight years ago.
The dispute has been lost amid the uproar on both sides of the border after Trump -- property-mogul-turned-reality-TV-star- turned-presidential-candidate -- accused Mexicans of bringing drugs and crime to the U.S. during his campaign kickoff speech June 16. No one has suggested that his money problems in Mexico prompted the remarks. But the legal flap has led Trump to swear off doing business with the entire country, slam its court system as corrupt and suggest building an impenetrable wall to keep Mexicans from ripping off the U.S.
“The defendants have been successful in using a corrupt legal and governmental system to delay and stall the fulfillment of their obligation to the Miss Universe organization,” Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, said in an e-mail. “It is a shame that these few individuals can have such a negative effect on a country and a country’s reputation.”
Trump’s reputation south of the border has also taken a hit. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong condemned his comments on Mexican immigrants as “prejudiced and absurd.” Last week, photos circulated on the Web of a shop in northern Mexico that fashioned a pinata after Trump.
On Thursday, Univision Communications Inc., the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, which is partly owned by Mexico City-based Grupo Televisa SAB, canceled its telecast of the Miss USA pageant, also a Trump property.
Trump has since issued a statement saying he is “close friends with many Mexican people.” As far as Univision is concerned, he told CNN he’d sue over any contract breach for “tremendous amounts of money.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that doing business in Mexico has some hazards. The Latin American country ranks fourth-to-last among Group of 20 nations on Transparency International’s corruption index.