It turns out that Republican nominee Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico was entirely a disaster. The Mexican cabinet was deeply divided on whether or not Trump should visit, and after all was said and done, Trump’s meeting with the already-unpopular President Enrique Pena Nieto is largely seen as an embarrassment to the Mexican government – and now President Nieto is scrambling for damage control.
Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, who allegedly proposed the meeting in the first place, has abruptly offered his resignation, leading us to conclude that it was demanded by the President to save face. A staggering 85% of Mexicans polled said that inviting Trump was a bad idea, and it’s not hard to see why. The New York Times noted that
“In the days after the meeting, the president scrambled to contain the fallout and repair the damage in a television interview, a newspaper column and a town hall-style meeting. But these steps seemed to do little to mollify many Mexicans, who accused the president of humiliating the nation, first by inviting Mr. Trump and then by failing to use the opportunity to push back against the candidate’s criticism of Mexico and Mexicans.”
Treating him like a serious politician who meets elected officials and discussing his “ideas” at all lend Trump and his platform of ethnonationalist scapegoating the trappings of legitimacy which they do not deserve. Both men proceeded to immediately squander any political capital that could have been gained from the meeting; Nieto was polite to Trump’s face but then antagonized the mogul on Twitter after their relatively tame press conference, which prompted Trump to triple-down on mass deportations and disparage Hispanic immigrants in a hostile and frenzied speech later that day. Nieto let his people down by refusing to scold Trump for his insulting comments about Mexicans, and he’s paying the price for it.
Nieto was perhaps hoping to distract the country from the recent scandal which revealed he plagiarized his college thesis, from Mexico’s contracting economy and the national murder rate spiking at its highest rate in year, all of which have earned him a paltry 23% approval rating.
“I really don’t understand how our president could invite this man. The president should be answering the insults and the lack respect that man has shown us, but instead he’s being friendly. Trump wants to build a wall, almost like the Berlin wall. Nothing good can come of this visit” said newspaper salesman Ángel Díaz of the visit.
Those sentiments are shared by an overwhelming majority of Mexicans, a mere 4% of whom approve of Mr. Trump.
Videgaray will be replaced by former finance chief José Antonio Meade.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.