MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s new foreign minister rallied his diplomatic troops on Monday, promising to pursue dialogue with Donald Trump’s administration but warning that the Republican’s policies could affect the “destiny of future generations” of Mexicans.
Using some of the most dramatic language in years by a senior official about an incoming U.S. president, Luis Videgaray said that Mexico was “entering a new era in relations with the United States,” in which Trump represented many “unknowns.”
The Republican’s proposals could ultimately impact the lives of “millions of compatriots on both sides of the border and the destiny of future generations,” he said.
Videgaray, named to the post last week, made the comments to a gathering of ambassadors and consuls general from around the world at the Foreign Ministry. He emphasized the stakes for Mexico with the change of administration in the United States, this country’s largest trading partner and home to tens of millions people of Mexican descent.
“There is almost no aspect of our national life that isn’t in one way or another related to the United States: migrants, commerce, industry, agriculture, tourism, services, financial flows, energy, border security, the cooperation and fight against drugs, organized crime and terrorism,” Videgaray said. “Many people ask us: How is Mexico going to react?”
He said some people are calling for a strategy of confrontation with Trump, while others are predicting Mexico will act with “shameful submission.”
“Mexico will not choose either of these false paths,” he said, but rather would act with “dignity and with intelligence, opening the doors of dialogue and of negotiation in order to defend the interests of Mexico and Mexicans.”
Videgaray’s first major speech followed the lead set by President Enrique Peña Nieto and his government. The tone has not been particularly critical of Trump’s often-inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants — the president-elect has called them “criminals” and “rapists” — and also not directly challenged his proposals to wall off the border, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or limit remittances paid by undocumented migrants.
But the minister’s comments reflect Mexico’s level of concern over the incoming U.S. president.
Videgaray, who was formerly finance minister, had been a behind-the-scenes liaison to the Trump campaign and an advocate for his trip to Mexico this past August. Videgaray lost his job during the uproar that followed the visit, but quickly regained his stature once Trump won the election.
Some in Mexico have criticized Videgaray’s selection as foreign minister as a sign of desperation by the Peña Nieto’s government — saying it was grasping for someone who might be amenable to the new American president.
In his speech Monday, Videgaray asserted Mexico’s importance to the United States and vowed to defend his country’s sovereignty. As examples of the benefits of trade and immigration, he cited the close relationship between auto plants in Mexico and Michigan, Mexican companies that have invested in Dallas, and the key role played by Mexican workers in the milk industry in Wisconsin.
Trump has criticized American companies for moving factory jobs to Mexico, and threatened to impose a “border tax” on firms that make products there bound for U.S. markets. Ford recently announced that it had canceled plans for a $1.6 billion plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, after Trump’s repeated criticism of Ford and other companies. The Mexican government is concerned that it will lose manufacturing jobs due to measures proposed by Trump.
“We are going to negotiate with great self-confidence; without fear, knowing the economic, social and political importance that Mexico has for the United States, and we are going to negotiate with intelligence and common sense,” Videgaray added.
He said he wanted to make it clear that “these millions of Mexicans who have emigrated to look for work are not as they have been described — criminals — but they are productive people who represent in the majority of cases the best of Mexico.”