If Trump wins US presidency, 'Mexico will talk to the devil' if it has to, says minister

During a panel discussion on Wednesday night, Mexico’s economic minister, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, said his country was prepared to “talk to the devil” if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wins the US election in November.

Villarreal made the statement during the Americas Society/Council of the Americas Pacific Alliance forum in New York City, where the presidents of Peru, Chile, and Colombia, with Villarreal standing in for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, discussed how to secure investment and spur productivity for in their countries.

“We cannot afford to risk a very important bilateral agreement,” Villarreal said. “If we have to talk to the devil to guarantee the safety of the Mexican people, Mexico will talk to the devil.”

Villarreal’s comments are the latest entry in Mexico’s ongoing adjustment to Trump’s candidacy. The GOP nominee kicked off his campaign last year by condemning Mexico for, among other things, sending “rapists” and other criminals across the border.

Since then, Mexican officials have both criticised Trump and reaffirmed their commitment to the US-Mexico relationship. Mexico is the US’s third-largest trading partner.

Juan Manuel Santos Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal Colombia Peru MexicoAS/COAMexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, right, speaking on a panel with Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, center, and Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos.

Mexican attitudes toward Trump have been particularly fraught since the Republican candidate’s brief visit to Mexico City earlier this month.

The visit was widely seen as an embarrassment for the Mexican government, and Peña Nieto was excoriated by many Mexicans. Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, who is thought to have orchestrated Trump’s trip, stepped down in the aftermath.

Others throughout the region have expressed reservations about a potential Trump presidency.

Peru’s central bank chief said earlier this month that Trump’s stated policies could take the world back to the era of the Great Depression, and that such a possibility “gives me the goosebumps.” Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, expressed similar concerns about the damage Trump could do to US-Latin American relations. And Mexico’s current and two former presidents have compared the GOP candidate to Adolf Hitler.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos struck a more measured tone at the Wednesday-night forum, saying, “Many [people] say one thing campaigning but do another in office once they realise what’s possible in [government].”

(Reporting for Reuters by Dion Rabouin; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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