Mexico City: President Enrique Pena Nieto has weighed whether to cancel a meeting with Donald Trump next week as he condemned the US president’s decision to build a massive border wall.
Lawmakers are pressuring Pena Nieto to scrap Tuesday’s talks in Washington after Trump made good on his campaign pledge to quickly order the construction of the barrier. “I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us,” Pena Nieto said in a nationally televised message Wednesday.
“I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said, referring to Trump’s vow to make the southern neighbor pay for the barrier.
“Mexico gives and demands respect as the completely sovereign nation that we are,” Pena Nieto said.
Pena Nieto said he would wait for a report from a high- level Mexican delegation holding meetings in the US capital this week and consult with governors and lawmakers before deciding on “the next steps to take.”
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who was in Washington, told the Televisa network that Pena Nieto will weigh whether to travel to Washington but that “the meeting stands for now.”
The last time Pena Nieto met with Trump, things did not go well for the Mexican leader.
Pena Nieto came under massive criticism at home for hosting the Republican billionaire during the US presidential election in August even though Trump had called Mexican migrants “rapists” and drug runners.
Videgaray resigned his post as finance minister at the time after it emerged that he had orchestrated the trip, but he was named chief diplomat after Trump was elected.
Now, Pena Nieto is under pressure to avoid meeting Trump again, with Senator Miguel Barbosa, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), saying Pena Nieto should not let Trump “impose his conditions” in negotiations.
Barbosa described the wall and measures against “sanctuary” US cities that protect migrants from deportation as “acts of aggression against Mexico, against Latin America, against the world, against freedom.”
Margarita Zavala, a potential 2018 presidential candidate of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), wrote on Twitter that Trump’s announcement was “an affront to Mexico” and that Pena Nieto must reconsider his trip.
Other political stalwarts urged Pena Nieto to stand up to Trump during his visit.