Mexico’s president finally has publicly spoken out against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, saying his government would not pay for the candidate's proposed border wall.
Enrique Peña Nieto largely has refrained from speaking out against Trump’s series of broadsides against Mexicans or his proposal to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the southern border of the U.S. But in an interview with Mexican daily Excelsior published Monday, Peña Nieto said Trump’s hostile posturing undermines Mexico's relationship with the U.S.
"There’s no scenario," Peña Nieto said, when asked if the Mexican government would ever pay for a border wall. "And I have to also say it discourages me. Of course I can’t find a way to find common ground with this position we’ve observed from this North American political actor."
When asked if he thought Trump’s comments amounted to insincere campaign rhetoric or honest policy plans, Peña Nieto said he considered Trump to be part of a long line of populist politicians who use harsh language and simplistic policies in order to harness public anger.
"In the end, these strident comments aim to offer simple, very simple solutions to problems that, of course, won’t be solved so easily," Peña Nieto said.
"That’s how Mussolini and Hitler got to power," he added. "They took advantage precisely of that context, perhaps, of a problem humanity was then experiencing, after an economic crisis."
In a separate interview with El Universal, also published Monday, Peña Nieto said Trump’s comments "damaged the relationship with the United States."
"Whoever speaks badly about Mexicans does so because they don't know Mexicans," he said.
However, the president insisted that his government would work with whomever wins the U.S. general election in November, on the basis of "mutual respect" and "constructive dialog."
Peña Nieto has been slow to react to Trump’s hostile proposed policies toward Mexico and broad characterizations of his country’s people as "rapists" who are "bringing crime" to the United States.
Former President Vicente Fox said last month that the government would not pay for that "fucking wall," a view he has since stood by. Another former president, Felipe Calderón, condemned Trump in less colorful language, but compared him to Hitler.
Legislators in Mexico City last week voted unanimously to recommend that the Peña Nieto administration forbid Trump from entering the country.