In the midst of all the executive orders President Donald Trump has been signing during his first two weeks as the 45th President of the United States, he still found the time to complicate an otherwise strong relationship with a bordering president.
According to The Huffington Post, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently announced that he would not meet with President Trump, even though the two heads of state had an official meeting planned for January. Peña Nieto decided to take a stand against Trump, following intense pressure from Mexican legislators and voters. That pressure heightened after Trump signed a late January executive order that instructs the federal government to commence construction of the infamous U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump continually insists that Mexico will in fact pay for the $12 billion to $15 billion project. In fact, that promise became one of the signature platforms of his campaign. Although Peña Nieto and other Mexican leaders have promised not to fund the border wall under any circumstances, Trump still insists that he will eventually get Mexico to pay for its construction, if only retroactively.
Trump’s executive order was seen as an insult by many in Mexico, and Trump himself suggested calling off the planned meeting in a Tweet.
“Mexico offers and demands respect, as the sovereign Nation that we are,” said Peña Nieto in a series of counter tweets directed at Trump. “Mexico doesn’t believe ns walls. I’ve said it many time before — Mexico will not pay for this wall.”
Besides their affinity for Twitter, there is at least one more major similarity between President Trump and President Peña Nieto; both presidents share a love of opulence. The Latin Times reports that Peña Nieto’s famous airplane, a TP-01 Dreamliner 787, is the most expensive airplane in the entire world, with a pricetag of $580 million (yes, it’s more expensive than Trump’s Air Force 1).
While 21% of flight passengers prefer to read during a flight, the Mexican president’s plane has been described as a “flying palace,” which can carry “250 passengers at a speed of nearly a thousand miles per hour and is capable of making the New York-Athens or Tokyo-Los Angeles routes without stop-overs.”
Trump, staying true to form, initially took to Twitter to voice his concerns.
“The U.S. has a $60 billion trade deficit with Mexico,” Trump tweeted. “It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”
Throughout Trump’s… unconventional election campaign, which often resulted in controversy and uproar in Mexico, Peña Nieto has largely avoided confrontation with the new president. That is, until the executive order regarding the wall was officially signed.
“The U.S. and Mexico are important neighbors and the relationship should be based on respect, partnership, and cooperation,” said Maureen Meyer, a researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, “not building walls.”