Mexico’s top presidential candidates launched their campaigns today vowing to take a harder line against Donald Trump, with the leftist front-runner vowing his country is done being the US president’s “pinata.”
Just as candidates were putting the finishing touches on their opening campaign speeches for Mexico’s July 1 elections, Trump crashed the kick-off party via Twitter, accusing the country of doing “very little” to stop illegal migration and drugs, and renewing his threat to axe the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The veteran leftist leading in the polls, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and his conservative rival, Ricardo Anaya, both hit back hard at the Republican president, whose anti-Mexican diatribes and insistence that Mexico pay for his planned border wall have made him supremely unpopular here.
“We are going to be very respectful toward the United States government, but we are also going to demand that (the United States) respect Mexicans,” Lopez Obrador told a cheering crowd in Ciudad Juarez, on the US border.
“Neither Mexico nor its people will be the pinata of any foreign government.”
Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, repeated his long-standing criticism of Trump’s planned border wall.
“Let this be heard near and far: neither security issues nor social problems can be resolved with walls,” he said, condemning Trump’s “mistaken foreign policy” and “contemptuous attitude toward Mexicans.”
Anaya, who is locked in a brutal battle for second place with ruling party candidate Jose Antonio Meade, vowed to answer Trump with a “strong and dignified stance,” and defied the US president to take action on security issues on his own side of the border.
“Just as the United States is worried about undocumented migrants, Mexico is worried about gun trafficking,” he said.
“Eighty percent of the guns used to kill people in our country come from the United States,” he added, in reference to a wave of drug cartel-fueled violence that has left more than 200,000 people dead in Mexico since 2006.