Mexico contradicts Trump on paying for border wall, clouding visit

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands at a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto yesterday he would build a border wall to keep illegal migrants out if he wins the U.S. presidency, but Pena Nieto held fast to his position that Mexico would not pay for it.

Contradicting Trump’s assertion that the pair did not discuss who would pay for his proposed wall, Pena Nieto said after the departure of the Republican presidential candidate that he told him during their private meeting in Mexico City that his government would not pick up the bill.

“At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Pena Nieto said in a tweet after not mentioning the issue during their joint news conference.

Trump gave a different account of the conversation, which was aimed at repairing relations damaged by the real estate mogul’s attacks on Mexico and migrant workers on the campaign trail.

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands at a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands at a press conference at the Los Pinos residence in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

“We did discuss the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall, that will be at a later date, this was a very preliminary meeting. It was an excellent meeting,” Trump said.

Many Mexicans were furious about Trump’s visit, deeply offended by how Trump has labeled Mexicans as rapists and drug traffickers, and wanted an apology. That did not come.

Even in private, Trump did not apologize to Pena Nieto, presidential spokes-man Eduardo Sanchez told Reuters.

Trump is trailing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in opinion polls for the Nov. 8 election. The New York businessman’s aides hoped the trip would make him look presidential and show he is willing to deal head on with a thorny issue like relations with Mexico.

The scenes of a measured Trump meeting with a foreign leader were aimed at convincing moderate American voters to see him in a more positive light as he tries to broaden his appeal.

Trump’s call for Mexico to fund the wall is often the central moment of his campaign rallies. He asks the crowd who will pay for the wall, and supporters shout back, “Mexico!”

Mexican opposition politicians attacked Pena Nieto for hosting Trump.

The Republican candidate first made his accusations that Mexico is sending criminals and rapists across the border and pledged to build a wall that Mexico would pay for when he launched his presidential bid in June last year. He has also accused Mexico of cheating the United States on trade.

The Mexican president said the many millions of Mexicans in the United States deserve respect, but offered only a mild rebuke of Trump for his rhetoric.

“The Mexican people has felt aggrieved by comments that have been made, but I was sure his interest in building a relationship is genuine,” Pena Nieto said at their joint news conference after the talks.

A few dozen demonstrators gathered beneath a monument to Mexican independence in the center of the capital to protest the visit, some holding placards emblazoned with captions such as “You are not Wall-come” and “Trump and Pena out.”

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against the visit of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo
A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against the visit of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Pena Nieto has been enmeshed in his own controversies, including over whether he plagiarized some of his 1991 undergraduate law thesis.

Trump’s visit to Mexico City took place hours before he was due to deliver a highly anticipated speech in the U.S. border state of Arizona on how he will tackle illegal immigration if he wins the election.

Trump has been pilloried in Mexico since he launched his White House campaign last year.

He has pledged to renegotiate or scrap the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, said on Wednesday that Trump could not paper over his previous harsh language against Mexico, which helped him defeat 16 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

“It certainly takes more than trying to make up for more than a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbours for a few hours and then flying home again,” she told a convention of the American Legion military veterans’ group in Cincinnati.

 

 

Comments  

U.S. set to lose top spot as global corn exporter to Brazil

CHICAGO,  (Reuters) – Brazil could eclipse the United States as the world’s top exporter of corn within five years, ending decades of U.S.

Brazil army ordered to take over security in violent Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO,  (Reuters) – Brazil’s federal government yesterday ordered the army to take over command of police forces in Rio de Janeiro state in a bid to curb violence driven by drug gangs, who have “virtually taken over” Rio’s metropolitan area of 12 million people, President Michel Temer said in announcing the decree.

Head of OAS anti-corruption mission in Honduras resigns

MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – The head of the Organization of American States’ anti-corruption mission in Honduras said on Thursday he would resign over a lack of support from authorities in the Central American country and clashes with OAS leadership.

Billionaire businessman Mendoza rules out Venezuela election run – sources

VALENCIA, Venezuela/ CARACAS  (Reuters) – Billionaire businessman Lorenzo Mendoza has ruled out challenging Venezuela’s leftist President Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming election despite multiple calls for him to stand, sources from his company’s workforce said yesterday.

“Do you fear me?”: Venezuela’s Maduro vows to gatecrash regional summit

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela’s unpopular socialist president Nicolas Maduro said yesterday his right-wing Latin American counterparts showed intolerance by trying to exclude him from an upcoming summit in Lima – and he vowed to go anyway.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×