The Cable

Fed Up With Trump, Mexico’s President Cancels His Visit to Washington

Mexico keeps insisting it is not paying for Trump’s wall.

trump-crop

Amid a tense political standoff, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled next week’s visit to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump.

“This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the POTUS,” the Mexican president said in a statement on (where else?) Twitter.

On Wednesday, Trump issued an executive order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, just as Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray was in town. Ordinary Mexicans responded to what was an obvious diplomatic insult by strongly suggesting Peña Nieto cancel his Jan. 31 Washington, D.C. meeting with Trump.

They were joined by former Mexican president and avid Twitter user Vicente Fox, who had some colorful opinions about Trump’s wall.

On Thursday, the White House announced it would pay for the wall by imposing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports. It did not give any further details on the tax or how the tax would be implemented.

The decision to skip his meeting with Trump was an abrupt about-face for Nieto, who Wednesday night said the visit was still on. But on Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to say that, if Mexico would not reimburse the United States for the wall — estimated to cost anywhere between $20 billion and $40 billion, and of doubtful efficacy in any event — it would perhaps be better if Peña Nieto were to cancel.

And so Peña Nieto did.

Trump also made renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement a major talking point, insisting that Mexico takes economic advantage of the United States. That renegotiation was expected to be under discussion at the meeting, but now the meeting is not to be.

In September last year, Trump traveled to Mexico to meet with Pieto and smooth over their differences. It didn’t go play so well with Nieto’s voters, and his popularity has sunk to about 12 percent.

Maybe spurning Trump’s invite and fanning Mexican nationalism will help turn that around.

This article has been updated.

Photo credit: Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty Images

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy@RobbieGramer

A decade of Global Thinkers

A decade of Global Thinkers

The past year's 100 most influential thinkers and doers Read Now

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola