MEXICO CITY — In the sharpest official Mexican government comments to date on Republican front-runner Donald Trump, the foreign minister called Trump’s policies and comments “ignorant and racist” and his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border “absurd.”
“When an apple’s red, it is red. When you say ignorant things, you’re ignorant,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s top diplomat.
“It is impossible to think of a 2,000-mile border being walled off and trade between our two countries stopped,” Ruiz Massieu said. “It is impractical, inefficient, wrong and, frankly, it is not an intelligent thing to do.”
As for Mexico paying for Trump’s proposed wall, she said: “It is not a proposition we would even consider. It is an impossible proposition.”
Ruiz Massieu spoke Friday evening, capping a week in which two former Mexican presidents told The Washington Post that Trump’s policies and growing popularity are poisoning Mexican views of the United States.
Former presidents Vicente Fox and his successor, Felipe Calderón, who ran Mexico from 2000 to 2012, have said the fact that Trump is winning Republican primaries and is a front-runner for the White House is damaging the image of the United States abroad.
Trump’s comments, and how well they are playing with voters, are especially alarming in this country, which does more than $500 billion worth of trade each year with the United States and buys more U.S. goods than China and Japan combined.
Trump’s call for deporting undocumented immigrants and building a massive wall along the length of the Mexican border is a central pillar of his campaign. Millions of Mexicans see it as insulting and racist and say he has specifically targeted Mexicans by saying Mexico is sending its worst citizens to the United States, including “criminals” and “rapists.”
Mexican officials see Trump’s calls for tariffs on cars made in Mexico and his giant wall as a threat to the thriving trade that millions of jobs in both countries depend on.
Fox used an expletive rarely heard from a politician in public to reject the idea of Mexico paying for Trump’s wall this week. Then Trump demanded Fox apologize for his language. On Friday, La Jornada, a leading left-leaning newspaper, published a cartoon of a furious-looking Trump shouting: “I demand respect. Only I can use bad manners and bad words!”
Trump has become a popular target of scorn in Mexico, where he has been trashed in folk songs and in computer games in which players get to fling shoes, cakes and tomatoes at him.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was elected to a six-year term in 2012, has largely avoided responding to Trump directly, but he said in a meeting this week with Vice President Biden in Mexico City that building walls “only means isolating oneself and ending up alone.”
Biden was in Mexico for high-level economic talks, which also included the U.S. secretaries of commerce, interior, transportation and energy, and the deputy secretary of homeland security.
Biden’s comments this week were top news when he told Peña Nieto that Trump’s views about Mexico were “the exact opposite” of the position of the “majority of the American people.”
“I feel almost obliged to apologize for some of what my political colleagues have said about Mexico,” Biden said. “The main message I wanted to say to you is that I understand that you can’t poison the well and, at the same time, work out a real estate arrangement to buy the well,” Biden said.
In an interview late Friday evening in her office, Ruiz Massieu, said Trump does not represent the views of most Americans.
“It sounds ignorant and racist because it is,” she said. “We are pretty sure that’s not the way most Americans feel. It was a country that was founded on tolerance, on openness, on taking in people from other places and enriching a society by embracing diversity. That’s the way American values are.”
She said that saying the Mexican American community does not contribute to the United States’ well-being and growth is “ignorant” and “ignores the facts.”
She added: “History has also shown that when anti-immigrant rhetoric turns into policy or laws, it is a bad idea. You lose money, you lose people, you lose trust.”
She said the Mexican government would respond to Trump’s rise by urging Mexican Americans in the United States to “participate and become heard in the electoral process, which is not over yet.”
“I’m optimistic that people will stand up for themselves and vote in accordance to their values and their views,” she said.
“For Mexicans and many people around the world, what this has brought to light is that you have to continuously work to remind everyone that it is better to work together,” she said. “It is better to build bridges than to build walls.”