February 25, 2018
Mexican president cancels White House trip after 'testy' phone call with Trump
The Mexican government has reportedly cancelled a tentatively planned visit by President Enrique Peña Nieto to the US this month following what wasdescribed as a "testy" phone call between Nieto and Donald Trump.
The two leaders talked for 50 minutes with Trump insisting several times that Mexico pay for the wall. After Nieto refused the request several times, both governments agreed that a meeting between the two leaders would not take place any time soon.
The Post said one Mexican official said Trump "lost his temper," while U.S. officials described him being more exasperated.While both Washington and Mexico city confirmed Saturday that Trump and Peña Nieto spoke Tuesday, both sides provided only sketchy official accounts of the call. Reuters reported that both governments agreed now was not the time for Peña Nieto visit to Washington.The two leaders expressed mutual condolences about the deaths from the high school shooting in Florida and from the crash of a military helicopter in Mexico's Oaxaca state, according to the Mexican government's account of the call."Both leaders reiterated their commitment to advance ... the bilateral agenda in terms of security, commerce and migration, through the coordinated forces of their work groups," Mexico said of the call.Mexican authorities had never confirmed that Peña Nieto was scheduled to travel this month to Washington, despite accounts in the Mexican media that such a trip was planned.Reports suggested that Peña Nieto's advisors had been closely weighing both the potential benefits and pitfalls of such a meeting since the Mexican secretary of foreign relations, Luis Videgaray, returned from Washington this month with word that Trump's team was receptive to a visit.But ultimately the "volatility" of Trump and the "lack of certainty about his commitments and actions" led Mexican officials to defer the meeting, wrote columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio on Friday in the El Horizonte newspaper of Monterrey.The major sticking point: the possibility that the Mexican president could end up looking bad or even being humiliated should the unpredictable Trump renew his vow that Mexico would pay for his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border."The theme is the same that they have clashed about publicly on other occasions, the border wall," Riva Palacio wrote.
The Mexican government continues to encourage illegal immigration to the United States and obviously does not want any impediments in their citizens' way when they illegally cross the border. They will pay for a wall when hell freezes over and not before.
Discussion in the US government is underway to perhaps charge some kind of fee for money transferred by Mexican citizens back to Mexico. It's a tempting target. Tens of billions of dollars cross the border every year.
But it's doubtful that a tax on remittances would be able to raise nearly enough cash to build the wall and besides, there are other ways to get money into Mexico besides remittances by wire.
Trump may go ahead with the tax anyway as a symbolic measure to show he kept his promise to make Mexico pay for his wall.
Nieto's aides who fear that Trump would try to humiliate Nieto is a valid concern. While Trump has gotten somewhat better at following a script, the chance that he will veer away from prepared remarks at a diplomatic event to skewer Nieto for his refusal to pay for the wall are pretty high.
Don't expect Nieto to take that chance any time soon.