The Mexican president has backtracked on his statement that compared Republican nominee Donald Trump with Hitler and Mussolini.
Speaking at a conference alongside President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the “Three Amigos” summit in Ottawa, Canada, Enrique Pena Nieto responded to a reporter’s question about Trump’s plan to build a wall on its southern border.
“In the past, some leaders address their societies in those terms,” he said. “Hitler and Mussolini did that and the outcome it’s clear to everyone. It resulted in devastation, and turned out to be a tragedy for mankind.”
However, one day after the Trump was announced as the Republican nominee, Nieto extended an olive branch to him, vowing to have a “frank and open dialogue” with whoever wins the election in November.
“To Mrs. Hillary Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump, I want to express my highest respect,” Pena Nieto said at a White House press conference with President Barack Obama.
He also rejected the notion that he ever said anything derogatory against Trump, stating his words were taken out of context.
“Never before have I said anything, have I given any adjective to any of the candidates… any issue, anything that I have said has been taken out of context…” Nieto said through an interpreter.
Exactly who it was that took his statement out of context, Nieto did not clarify.
Paulo Carreno King, assistant secretary for North American affairs at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, repeated through email that Nieto never likened Trump to the two dictators (despite evidence to the contrary), yet refused to say whether the president blamed the media for twisting his words.
Sergio Aguayo, a professor at El Colegio de Mexico, said Nieto denied making these accusatory statements because the current administration is weak and the president is unable to effectively handle his relations with the United States.
People believe the Mexican government does not have a strong strategy to counteract Trump’s anti-Mexican strategies. Consequently, it first decided to ignore the boorish billionaire and then spoke up against him. But now that there is a strong possibility that Trump could be named president, the government is on the defensive. Nieto now wants to save face with the U.S. government, though it may be too late for that, and prefers to hide behind the non-intervention policy.
Nieto’s popularity has fallen to 29 percent, the lowest in his presidency, amidst discontent about the government’s inadequate fight against corruption, according to a June survey.
Mexicans have a vested interest in the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. About 34 million people in the country trace their origin back to Mexico, while 35 percent of Mexico adults say they have friends or family in the United States.