The White House has confirmed that President Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke by phone today at about 9:30 a.m. Peña Nieto had cancelled a planned visit to Washington next week after Trump announced executive actions on immigration and the building of his promised wall along the US frontier with Mexico. It comes as Mexican officials are in Washington to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump has seriously criticized. Some Mexican businesses and politicians are formulating retaliations against Trump’s trade policies.
Trump is taking a tough stance with America’s southern neighbor. Today he tweeted, “Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!”
At a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said the phone call was "very, very friendly," even while he maintained that his administration will move forward on its tough stance on trade. "Mexico ... has out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders," Trump said. "They have made us look foolish." Additionally, Trump said he will strengthen the "soft and weak" border while preventing the loss of American jobs. "We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing," Trump said.
After the press conference, White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed that Trump has agreed to refrain from speaking publicly about the wall.
Mexico’s economy has been lagging over the last year and the peso has fallen 13 percent against the dollar since the general election. It is reaching historic lows. Prospects for improvement are few.
Peña Nieto’s popularity is low, especially since he began to cut back on government subsidies of gasoline. Riots, looting, and radicals putting up roadblocks and clashing with police resulted. If recession results, unrest could become greater and also the push for some Mexicans to seek to cross the border into the United States.
In an ABC interview, former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada affirmed that further unrest is possible. "If you have a poor Mexico, yes. If there is hunger, yes. If unemployment comes back to high levels, yes, we will have problems. And the consequences will hit right back on the United States." He has said since that Trump is a “child” and “not American in his soul.” Both he and the current foreign minister assert that should the US impose a suggested 20 percent tax on goods imported from Mexico, American consumers will be affected.
Gov. Graco Ramirez of Morelos, who presides over Mexico’s conference of mayor, told a Mexican newspaper that Trump had declared “war” on Mexico. To El Universal, Ramirez said, “With Trump, dialogue is exhausted. It doesn’t make sense to sit down with him. He doesn’t change his attitude or his position.”
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said at a news conference yesterday that Trump had besmirched “the dignity of the Mexican people.” Paying for the wall, he said, was “absolutely impossible.”