On Friday, Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, made news by commenting on a matter he’d until then remained silent about: Donald Trump.
“Some have hoped for the president to take a position on what Trump has said. The government … fully discredits and condemns any expression of a discriminatory character and [any expression] that specifically hurts Mexicans,” he told the Mexican website SDPnoticias, echoing his foreign minister, who days earlier had denounced the Republican presidential candidate’s “ignorance and disdain” toward Mexico and Mexicans.
But Pena Nieto was also hesitant to get involved in the early stages of a U.S. election campaign. Trump’s comments are “very unfortunate, but I don’t want to contribute to or make the fat broth for [a delightful idiom meaning ‘make things easy for’] someone who is just vying to become a candidate,” he said.
The remarks captured the struggle among Mexican officials in recent months to respond to a formidable contender for the U.S. presidency who has accused the Mexican government of flooding the United States with rapists, criminals, and drug traffickers; declared that Mexico, at the behest of a President Trump, would fund the completion of a 2,000-mile-long wall along the U.S. border, at a cost of billions of dollars; proposed mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, including millions of Mexicans, from the U.S.; claimed that the Mexican government “is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning” than the U.S. government on immigration policy, and that “Mexico is taking our business. Mexico is the new China”; and generally made immigration and Mexico the centerpiece of his campaign.