UDPATE: An anonymous White House official attempted to downplay President Donald Trump's "bad hombres" comment, which he used over the phone with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Jan. 27. The official said, "those comments, while lighthearted, were part of a discussion about how the United States and Mexico could work collaboratively to combat drug cartels and other criminal elements, and make the border more secure," and also described the discussion as "pleasant," Time reports with AP.
President Donald Trump reportedly threatened Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over a phone call — and in the process, neatly overturned almost three decades of stable, bipartisan relationships between the United States and Mexico.
Last week, Trump specifically told the Mexican president not to attend a summit planned for Jan. 31 in a tweet. Then he sent out a message complaining about Mexico “taking advantage” of the United States. He later ordered White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to announce that he was considering a 20 percent border tax on Mexicans which would pay for the wall.
Tensions with Mexico have been tense for quite some time, after Trump said the government needed to get "bad hombres" out of the United States during a presidential debate in October. During this particular phone call, Trump once again used incredibly offensive language: He told the Mexican president he may send the U.S. military to handle "bad hombres down there," Time reports.
The recent sentiments didn't just humiliate Nieto but also Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, who is a close friend of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Then Trump picked up the phone on Friday and talked to Nieto in an hour-long conversation which he described as “very, very friendly” — however, journalist Dolia Estevez told the Mexico news outlet Aristegui Noticias that according to close sources, “It was a very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Nieto.”
“I don't need the Mexicans. I don't need Mexico,” Trump reportedly told the Mexican president. “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”
He also allegedly hinted he would force Nieto to pay for the wall with a 10 percent tax on Mexican imports and 35 percent on those imports “that hurt Mexico the most,” the reporter wrote. “He even complained of the bad role the [Mexican] army is playing in the fight against narco trafficking,” and suggested that if Mexico could not handle its drug problem, the U.S. would send its military to do the job for them.
Trump also insulted the president saying, “I really didn’t want to go to Mexico last August,” referring to his visit during his campaign run.
Despite the hostile talk, Mexico is still willing to negotiate with Trump — or rather, it has no choice.
To secure a stable border, the United States needs an ally in Mexico. The country is cooperating with the U.S. in the fight against drugs and terrorists, votes with it in the United Nations and shares intelligence that has neutralized many threats before it crosses borders.
In taking aggressive actions against Mexico, Trump is only going to force Nieto’s hand. A United States with a hostile neighbor, which can no longer afford to stem the tide of narcotics and immigrants who wish to cross over (thanks to the ridiculous border taxes), will be like opening a floodgate of narcotics — and you can bet that could cost America more than building a wall.
Meanwhile, Nieto’s continued cooperation with America in the face of such hostility is breeding resentment amongst Mexicans. Already Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a Mexican politician who supports breaking ties with the United States, is leading polls ahead of the presidential election in mid-2018.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Henry Romero