Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has said that comments by US presidential candidate Donald Trump have damaged relationships between the two countries, and compared Trump’s “strident” tone to those of fascist leaders Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
In his most outspoken comments so far on the GOP frontrunner, Peña Nieto also denied that Mexico would cover the cost of Trump’s proposed border wall.
“There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of strident rhetoric have led to very ominous situations,” Peña Nieto told the Mexican newspaper Excélsior in an interview published on Monday. “That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in: they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.”
Peña Nieto’s pronouncements are the most forceful so far against Trump, whose rise to the top of the Republican primary races has spooked Mexicans of all social strata.
Until now, the president had been somewhat vague in his comments, with broad warnings against populism – interpreted in Mexico as also alluding to leftwing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a contender for the 2018 presidential elections.
When asked is there was a scenario in which Mexico would pay for a border wall, he responded: “There is no scenario.”
In another interview published on Monday with the newspaper El Universal, Peña Nieto was asked if he “worried” about Trump making it to the White House. He responded, “I don’t think so,” then continued: “Those that insult or end up speaking badly of Mexico do so because they don’t know Mexico. Those that speak badly of Mexicans do so because they don’t know Mexicans.”
Mexicans have taken to mocking Trump with memes on social media sites and beating piñatas resembling the real estate mogul-turned-politician. Politicians are speaking out, too, most notably ex-president Vicente Fox, who told Fusion, “I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall.”
“Why would you egg him on? Anything Mexico says is bound to play in his favour,” said Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. “If you punch back … there you are aligned with the Democrats and you get nothing [in the bilateral relationship] as a result.”
Peña Nieto, who spent much the interviews defending his government’s reform agendas and the much-criticised investigation into the 2104 disappearance of 43 students, emphasised that his government was not meddling in internal US politics.
“Mexico, I repeat, and my government, will be absolutely a witness and respectful of the process that the United States has,” he said.
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