The Daily TRUMPetour V6
Mexico's treasury minister resigns after Trump visit with president
MEXICO CITY — Mexican Treasury Minister Luis Videgaray resigned Wednesday, a week after Donald Trump's controversial meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto that Videgaray apparently had suggested.
Videgaray, one of Peña Nieto's closest advisers, did not state a reason for stepping down, Finance Ministry spokeswoman Claudia Algorri said. However Mexican media said it was his idea to promote a meeting with Trump to calm financial markets nervous over the Republican presidential candidate's anti-Mexico and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Trump has vowed to build a wall along the border and make Mexico pay for it, and to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because too many U.S. factories and jobs are moving south of the border.
Mexicans saw the meeting as a humiliation for Mexico and for Peña Nieto, who was savaged in the media for failing to stand up to Trump when they appeared together.
The Aug. 31 visit sparked unkind headlines for Peña Nieto. “Trump uses EPN,” the Mexico City daily Reforma said, using the president's initials. Peña Nieto didn't demand that Trump apologize for having called Mexican migrants rapists, drug smugglers and criminals. He also stood silently at their joint news conference while the Republican presidential candidate repeated his promise to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The Mexican president said he told Trump during their private meeting that Mexico would not pay for the wall, but Trump said they did not discuss the wall.
“I don’t believe you can find, in the long history of the Mexican presidency, a more stupid decision than the invitation that President Peña Nieto made to Donald Trump,” columnist Jesús Silva-Herzog wrote in the Reforma. “The country feels betrayed by its president. … The president offered the symbols of the Mexican state to a narcissist who has founded his political career in hating a neighbor.”
Peña Nieto has told Mexican media he wanted to meet both presidential candidates to explain the importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship. He told Milenio news channel that he had two options: “confronatation” or dialogue.
“I don’t know where this relationship is going tomorrow,” Peña Nieto said. “I assume (the decision) as a responsible attitude in the face of a risk posed various positions, in particular, those candidate Trump has advanced in his campaign.”
Videgaray's resignation comes as Mexico faces financial difficulties stemming from the low price of oil — the country’s principle export — and decisions under Videgaray to raise taxes on business and the middle class and to increase government debt significantly.
It’s a sharp reversal of fortune for Videgaray, who received fawning coverage in the financial press for his doctorate from MIT and plans for overhauling the country's energy and telecommunications industries and tax system — achieved with ease after he took office in December 2012.
The changes failed to live up to expectations, while economic growth has never come close to the annual rate of 5% promised by Peña Nieto, analysts said.
“He hasn’t delivered what was expected: more economic growth and solid handling of public finances,” said Jonathan Heath, a private economist in Mexico City. “The average growth of these four years is lower than the average of the previous four (presidential administrations) and public debt has increased more than 10 percentage points of GDP.”
Videgaray, 48, was replaced by a former finance chief, José Antonio Meade, who served in the same post under former president Felipe Calderón. Meade, like his predecessor, defended Trump’s trip to Mexico, telling Mexico City newspaper El Universal: “It was an intervention that helped the country and helped Mexicans.”