Mexican president to Trump: Direct your frustrations at Congress, not Mexicans
Something that brings together and unites absolutely all Mexicans is our certainty that nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico. pic.twitter.com/4eZIIUjM9a
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) April 5, 2018
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday criticized President Trump’s rhetoric toward immigrants and his country in response to Trump’s order to deploy the National Guard to the southwest border.
“If your recent statements come from frustration with internal political affairs, with your laws, or with your Congress, talk about them, not about Mexicans,” said Peña Nieto, addressing Trump in a video.
“We won’t allow negative rhetoric to define our actions,” he added.
Over the past week, Trump has repeatedly tweeted his frustration over U.S. immigration and border control laws, linking illegal immigration from Latin America with drug trafficking and criminality in the United States.
He also attempted to use North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations to pressure Mexico to “stop people from coming through their country and into ours.”
On Thursday, Trump claimed women migrating from Central America are “raped at levels nobody’s ever seen before,” echoing his 2015 presidential announcement speech, where he said Mexican immigrants “are rapists” who “bring crime.”
In his video address, Peña Nieto was uncharacteristically candid about foreign relations — with the Trump administration in particular — and about the country’s own electoral process.
“The bilateral relationship brings enormous opportunities both countries have to take advantage of. It’s an intense and dynamic relationship that naturally also brings challenges,” he said.
“But those challenges will never justify threatening attitudes or disrespect between our countries,” Peña Nieto added.
Mexico’s presidential campaigns officially started Friday, and the country will elect a new president — Peña Nieto is not eligible for reelection — in July.
In his address, Peña Nieto quoted the four presidential candidates’ responses to Trump’s rhetoric — an unprecedented move in Mexican politics.
“We need a relationship of friendship and cooperation for development, not the use of force, not walls, not to gamble on being bad neighbors,” Peña Nieto quoted Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist leftist candidate who has a double-digit lead in most polls.
Trump on Wednesday announced he would order deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, but did not specify in what capacity or for how long, except that guardsmen would be there until his proposed border wall is built.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Vinegary Caso said Wednesday he’d spoken to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who’d assured him the guardsmen would be deployed unarmed in a supporting role.
But a Homeland Security official told The Hill that the National Guard’s role in border security has yet to be defined.
“We are still evaluating and discussing with the border states the missions the Guardsmen will perform in support of federal law enforcement. Decisions about equipment carried by Guardsman — including firearms — is dependent on their assigned missions and will be made in conjunction with the Department of Defense and the border governors,” said the official.
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