During a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday, US President Donald Trump disparaged Mexico and threatened to use military force against the drug trade, according to Dolia Estevez, a journalist based in Washington, DC.
In an interview with the Mexican news outlet Aristegui Noticias, Estevez, who cited sources on both sides of the call, said, “It was a very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Peña Nieto.”
Estevez said that while both the White House and the Mexican president have released information about the call, both sides characterised it as a “friendly” conversation and neither disclosed what was said.
Estevez said she “obtained confidential information” corroborating the content of the discussion.
“I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico,” Trump reportedly told the Mexican president. “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”
Trump hinted that the US would force Mexico to fund the wall with a 10% tax on Mexican exports “and of 35% on those exports that hurt Mexico the most,” Estevez wrote in Proyecto Puente.
Before the call, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was considering a tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall.
“He even complained of the bad role the [Mexican] army is playing in the fight against narco trafficking,” Estevez, who writes for Forbes and is close to the Mexican journalist and anchorwoman Carmen Aristegui, said during an interview with Aristegui’s eponymous news outlet.
Trump “even suggested to [Peña Nieto] that if they are incapable of combatting [narco trafficking] he may have to send troops to assume this task,” she said.
The US president “said he would not permit the drugs coming from Mexico to continue massacring our cities,” Estevez added. She said Trump went so far as to say, “I really didn’t want to go to Mexico last August,” referring to Trump’s visit to the Mexican capital last year.
Peña Nieto was accompanied on the call by people from his country’s foreign ministry, while Trump was joined by “the famous son-in-law,” likely meaning senior adviser Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steven Bannon. Kushner is reportedly close to Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, and they were seen as the likely go-betweens for the two governments.
“Before this unusual onslaught, Peña was not firm,” Estevez said. “He was stammering.”
Despite this confrontation, the Mexican government still believes in negotiating with the Trump administration, Estevez said.
She also reports that Videgaray met with US officials on Tuesday in Tapachula, near the Mexico-Guatemala border.
According to Estevez, the Mexican foreign minister met with Craig Deare, a member of Trump’s National Security Council handling the Western Hemisphere; Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of US Southern Command; and Roberta Jacobson, the US ambassador to Mexico. The Mexican Foreign Ministry has made no mention of the encounter.
Estevez says the meeting was to address Mexican cooperation in deterring the flow of Central American migrants through Mexico to the US. However, neither US nor Mexican officials contacted by Estevez would confirm the meeting.
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