US Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump made a short visit to Mexico’s capital last month for a private meeting with President Enrique Peña.
Peña had invited both of US race's main candidates, though Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton declined.
This is how the Mexican president’s official Twitter account reported the news:
Invité a México a los candidatos a la Presidencia de EEUU, para conversar sobre la relación bilateral. Mañana recibo a Donald Trump.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) 31 de agosto de 2016
I invited the American presidential candidates to Mexico to discuss bilateral relations. Tomorrow I welcome Donald Trump.
The backlash on social media against Peña's decision to invite the controversial candidate was swift.
During his campaign, Trump has fueled animosity from Mexicans and Mexican Americans with regular disparaging comments about Mexicans. Trump's promise to halt undocumented immigration by building a wall along the southern US border has also angered people in Mexico. Many viewed the invitation as a foul move that underestimated Trump's disrespect for Mexico, while others saw it as yet another bad decision in a series of scandals now plaguing President Peña:
NOSOTROS NO TE INVITAMOS.
— Berenice Rodríguez (@berenice_rj) 31 de agosto de 2016
WE DID NOT INVITE YOU
Wednesday, 11 a.m.
Angel of Independence. Get Out Trump Get Out EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto]. Trump You Are Not Welcome. pic.twitter.com/YXrglcuNrB
— Joyce Mac Naught ♕ (@joycemacs) 31 de agosto de 2016
— Hannah Sotelo (@Hanniux) 31 de agosto de 2016
Writing to his more than 75,000 followers on Twitter, columnist Gabriel Guerra argued that the invitation could be understood from two perspectives:
— Gabriel Guerra C (@gabrielguerrac) 31 de agosto de 2016
The meeting caught many off guard, leading to broad speculation about why it was happening at all.
Solo falta que anuncien como logro de conversación con @realDonaldTrump que muro fronterizo lo va a construir una empresa mexicana como Higa
— Agustin Castilla (@agus_castilla) 1 de septiembre de 2016
The only thing that is missing is that they announce the accomplishment of the private conversation with Trump is that the wall will be constructed by the Higa Group.
(The Higa Group is the conglomerate that has benefited from public construction contracts since Enrique Peña was governor of the State of Mexico. It is also the same corporation that transferred ownership of a lavish property to Peña's wife in a scandal known as “Casa Blanca.”)
JoseLo Herrera, for example, thought Trump would stick to his plans for a border wall:
Donald Trump viene a México para ofrecer una oportunidad de empleo a todos los mexicanos. CONSTRUYENDO EL MURO.
— JoseLo Herrera (@Paco_Rabane) 1 de septiembre de 2016
Donald Trump is coming to Mexico to offer employment opportunities to all Mexicans. BUILDING THE WALL.
Trump landed in his private jet (often referred to as “Trump Force One”) at Mexico City International Airport around 1:30 p.m. on August 31, despite an apparent ban on private planes at this airport. He then traveled in an official helicopter operated by the Mexican government to Los Pinos, the presidential residence, for his meeting with the Peña.
While “the Don,” as Trump is known to some of his compatriots, stayed in Los Pinos, a small demonstration took place at the monument of the Angel of Independence, where about 30 people protested the arrival of the US billionaire.
After the meeting at Los Pinos, Peña and his guest held a press conference. According to the mainstream domestic media, Peña had asserted that “Mexicans deserve everyone's respect,” while the foreign media focused on the US candidate's response to a question about his infamous plans for a border wall: “The United States has the right to build a wall to stop illegal immigration, but who will cover the costs was not discussed.”
Journalist Jorge Ramos thought the visit changed nothing about Trump's ideas for immigration policy:
Trump se va de México sin disculparse, sin prometer respeto a los Mexicanos y sin cambiar en lo más mínimo su plataforma anti-inmigrante.
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) 31 de agosto de 2016
Trump is leaving Mexico without apologizing, without promising to respect the Mexican people, and without changing his anti-immigration platform in the least.
Ricardo Anaya, the leader of an opposing political force to that of Enrique Peña's party, said the following:
En lugar de exigirle una disculpa, el Gobierno permitió que @realDonaldTrump consumara la humillación hacia los mexicanos. Es inaceptable.
— RicardoAnayaC (@RicardoAnayaC) 31 de agosto de 2016
Instead of demanding an apology, the government allowed @realDonaldTrump to top off his humiliation of Mexicans. It is unacceptable.
Robert Valencia, a political analyst and Global Voices contributor, had this to say about the Mexican president's role during the meeting:
.@EPN perdió la oportunidad de poner a Trump contra las cuerdas, ahondando así su imagen de líder sin caracter.
— Robert Valencia (@rvalentwit) 1 de septiembre de 2016
@EPN missed the opportunity to put Trump's feet to the fire, thereby furthering his image as a weak-minded leader.
In addition to the controversial invitation he extended to Donald Trump, Peña has also recently faced criticism after journalists published evidence suggesting that he plagiarized his university thesis. But in this case, the scandal claimed a high-profile casualty: Finance Minister Videgaray, a close aide to the president and who played a key role in orchestrating the meeting with Trump, resigned shortly thereafter.