Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled a meeting with President Donald Trump scheduled for January 31. The Mexican president’s move comes a day after Trump signed an executive order ramping up deportation of immigrants and calling for the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” the Mexican president said in a January 25 video posted to Twitter, notes the New York Times. “Mexico does not believe in walls,” he continued, reports CNN. “I’ve said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall.”
The following day, January 26, Peña tweeted, “This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the POTUS.”
“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” President Trump included in a January 26 tweet.
“President Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall has once again just been proven as delusional fiction by the Mexican President,” Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, said. “The wall is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle in the making, and Republicans should be embarrassed about their brazen hypocrisy in enabling it.”
“It is an unprecedented moment for the bilateral relationship,” Genaro Lozano, a professor at Mexico’s Iberoamerican University, told the New York Times. “In the 19th century, we fought a war with the U.S.; now we find ourselves in a low-intensity war, a commercial one over Nafta and an immigration war due to the measures he just announced.”
“We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump announced January 22, notes CNBC. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”
Beyond Mexico’s resistance to the Trump Administration’s policies affecting U.S.-Mexico relations, some American groups have begun to speak out against them.
The Center for Automotive Research wrote in a statement, “Counter to the incoming Trump administration’s goal of creating manufacturing jobs, the withdrawal from NAFTA or the implementation of punitive tariffs could result in the loss of 31,000 U.S. jobs.”
“There is … frustration with our government and ourselves that we have not been able to tell the story of this important relationship,” a Mexican diplomat told CNN. “There are a lot of stereotypes of Mexicans in the US, but there are also stereotypes of Americans in Mexico. It is in the interest of both governments to explain what this relationship is and what we can do together.”