MEXICO CITY—Mexico’s president is “considering” canceling next week’s visit to Washington following President Donald Trump’s order to begin construction of a wall between the two countries, a senior official said Wednesday.
The decision to rethink the visit comes amid growing outrage in Mexico, and a sense among many that President Enrique Pena Nieto has been too weak in the face of Trump’s tough policy stance.
The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the administration “is considering” scrapping the Jan. 31 visit. “That’s what I can tell you.”
It was not clear when a final decision may be made.
Trump’s order came the same day Mexico’s foreign relations and economy secretaries arrived in Washington for talks with his administration, and its timing was seen by many in Mexico as a slap in the face.
Critics of Pena Nieto—whose approval ratings were just 12 percent in a recent survey, the lowest for any Mexican president in the polling era—have hammered him for his perceived weakness on Trump. Opposition politicians urged him Wednesday to call off the trip.
“The position is very clear,” said Ricardo Anaya Cortes, president of the conservative opposition National Action Party. “Either one cancels the meeting with Donald Trump, or one attends it to say publicly and with absolute firmness that Mexico rejects the wall and we will not pay a single cent for it.”
Trump has vowed that Mexico will pay for the wall, and also to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Pena Nieto and other officials have repeatedly said Mexico will not pay.
The U.S. president has also promised to step up deportations. He launched his campaign with remarks about the quality of illegal immigrants crossing in from Mexico.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump was referring to the high number instances in which human traffickers rape females en-route to the United States.
Pena Nieto was roundly criticized after inviting candidate Trump to Mexico City last August and disappointed many of his countrymen by not publicly confronting Trump on the wall.
On Tuesday, ahead of their trip to Washington, the economy and foreign relations secretaries suggested that Mexico could leave NAFTA if negotiations with Washington are unsatisfactory—though that would not be the first choice.
Already Mexico is feeling the effects of the new tone from Washington. The Mexican peso has sharply devalued since Trump was elected, and several high-profile business ventures have been canceled amid threats to impose a border tax on goods made in Mexico and exported to the United States.
Epoch Times contributed to this report.