Well, this is awkward. Just as Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto was getting set for his White House meeting with Donald Trump next week on January 31, the new U.S. president went ahead and signed an executive order for the “immediate” construction of the border wall with Mexico. Donald Trump has declared that Mexico is going to pay for this wall; Nieto has always replied “no.” (The initial construction will use funds already set aside for a wall, but the Trump administration insists Mexico will pay “one way or another.”)
Mexican media is now reporting that Nieto may cancel the meeting with Trump. Nieto has not confirmed that he will stand Trump up, but many Mexican leaders and the public are ramping up the pressure to get him to stay away from the White House.
Margarita Zavala, a potential presidential candidate and wife of former president Felipe Calderón, wrote on Twitter that Donald Trump’s wall announcement ahead of Nieto’s visit was “an offense to Mexico.”
The Mexican Senate also called on Nieto to cancel the meeting, with one senator calling Trump’s actions “hostile.” Indeed, Trump’s executive order “united Mexico” said El País, a Mexican newspaper, adding, “an era of hostility has begun.”
To add insult to injury, a Mexican delegation arrived in D.C. Wednesday to meet with top Trump administration officials, which reportedly included chief of staff Reince Priebus and top advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. The Mexican diplomats — Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso and Economic Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal — had said security, immigration, and trade issues were among the issues to be discussed. Videgaray, who had been the finance minister, had helped to set up Trump’s Mexico visit during the GOP candidate’s campaign; Videgaray resigned amid the backlash soon after. Nieto then named him foreign minister, saying U.S. relations would be his top priority. It seemed to have been something Trump wanted:
But given the timing of Trump’s announcement, it’s unclear what the status of those meetings is — they happened, though the White House and Mexico are mum on what went down — or whether the Trump administration actually cares what its Mexican counterparts have to say.