Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign by accusing Mexico of sending rapists and other criminals across the border to the US, a claim he has repeated — along with his vow to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Those statements have driven negative sentiment toward the Republican candidate in Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is one of those critics.
And when Trump sits down with him on Wednesday afternoon, he will be face to face with a leader who has compared his rise to that of Hitler and Mussolini, two of the most noteworthy and despotic fascists in modern history.
Peña Nieto made the comments during a March interview with Mexican newspaper Excelsior, saying:
“There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity.
“That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in — they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis. And I think what [they] put forward ended up at what we know today from history, in global conflagration. We don’t want that happening anywhere in the world.”
Whether Trump will harp on Peña Nieto’s comments won’t be immediately clear, as the two will meet privately, and it’s not clear if they will take questions afterward.
But if Trump wanted to bring up comparisons between him and Hitler, Peña Nieto won’t be the only Mexican leader he could invoke.
Mexico’s last two presidents, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, have both compared Trump to the former Nazi leader.
Calderon, in comments made in February, made a point similar to Peña Nieto’s.
“He is acting and speaking out against immigrants that have a different skin colour than he does, it is frankly racist and [he is] exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” Calderon told reporters in Mexico City. Calderon called Trump a “false prophet.”
Fox has been especially strident in his condemnations of Trump.
In February, Fox said Trump “reminds me of Hitler” and said he would not pay for Trump’s “f—— wall” in another interview that month. In May, he apologised for that comment but doubled down on it just days later, saying, “I’m not going to pay for the f—— wall. … And please don’t take out the f—— full word.”
After Trump’s visit was announced, Fox went in on him again, saying the Republican leader was “not welcome to Mexico” and that Mexicans “don’t like him. We don’t want him.”
The most vivid anti-Trump message has come from Mexicans in the streets.
After Trump launched his campaign last year by hurling invective at Mexico, Mexicans responded in kind, with the more restrained among them calling him “imbecile,” “racist,” “absurd,” and “ignorant,” while others in the country made piñatas depicting the Republican candidate.
In March, Easter revelers burned effigies of the real-estate mogul around the country, shouting “death” and other insults.
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