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Mexicans concerned about Trump presidency
01:44 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Many Mexicans say Trump catapulted himself to the presidency by insulting Mexican immigrants

Several Mexicans dismiss idea a wall could keep them out of the United States as they try to find work to feed families

Mexico City CNN  — 

On a street corner along La Reforma, one of the most iconic boulevards in this capital city, newspaper street vendors were stunned by the headlines of the papers they were selling.

“A Temblar” (Time to Tremble) blared one bold headline just hours after Donald Trump was declared president-elect of the United States.

Some of the more tabloid-style papers carried headlines with expletives and depicted Trump with a clown nose. The news was a stunning shock for a country where the vast majority of people expected a Hillary Clinton victory.

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“He’s going to screw us all,” said one newspaper vendor as they waited for the fast-moving cars to come to a brief stop at the intersection so they could sell more papers.

“We’re going to have bad relations with the United States now,” said another vendor.

Many Mexicans say Trump catapulted himself to the presidency, in large part, by insulting Mexican immigrants with racist and xenophobic speech.

Trump has vowed to build a wall along the southern US border and force Mexico to pay for the multibillion-dollar construction, vowed to round up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and threatened to tear up the NAFTA trade agreement.

The news of Donald Trump’s election happened to coincide with thousands of people marching in protest demanding stronger social programs for Mexico’s poorest workers.

Jose Torres Hernandez, 62, was one of those protesters and Trump’s election weighed heavily on him as he marched.

Torres is a farmer in the northern Mexico state of Nayarit. He said he’s crossed illegally into the United States many times to find work in the United States to pick fruits and vegetables on farms.

Torres dismissed the idea that a wall could keep him out of the United States to find a job that will help feed his family.

“We have to find a way to feed our needs. We are not there to rob our neighbor. We are going to win so we can sustain our families,” Torres said. “He (Trump) will cut our throats in the sense of trying to end our path to the United States. And I see that as bad.”

Armando Flores Gutierrez, 48, also laughed at the idea of a wall keeping out Mexican immigrants who are looking for manual labor jobs north of the border because they are desperate to feed their families.

Can Trump right the ship with Mexico?

Flores said he has crossed illegally into the United States at least 25 times since he was 16 years old. He said he’s worked farm fields picking watermelons, onions and grapes from Arizona and California to Virginia and Idaho.

He also said he’s never been caught by Border Patrol agents as he moved across the border in the Arizona desert.

Flores said he fears Trump’s election will have a negative impact on Mexico’s economy but also said the idea of removing millions of undocumented workers from the United States would cripple the American economy.

“If he tries to remove all of the Mexicans in the United States, Donald Trump will realize what a huge mistake that is and how much the US economy depends on Mexican immigrants,” said Flores.

Even though there are few supporters of Donald Trump in Mexico, they do exist. Bill Bonilla, 68, is a retired resident of Mexico City and he says he understands why Trump’s rhetoric of sealing off the border resonates with American voters.

“Mexico in recent years has seen a horrible increase in crime of all kinds,” Bonilla told CNN. “This is why Trump wants to build the wall.”

In his victory speech Wednesday, Trump said: “I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

Mexican government officials quickly gathered on Wednesday to reassure Mexican citizens that the election of Trump would not destabilize the country’s economy. In the hours after Trump was declared the winner, the value of the Mexican peso dropped nearly 12% against the US dollar, but by late Wednesday, the peso was beginning to stabilize.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has endured scathing criticism for the way he handled his September meeting with Donald Trump in the middle of the presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, the Mexican President avoided any specific discussions of the most controversial issues that Trump vows to push during his time in office. Peña Nieto said he’s agreed to meet again with Trump before the new president is sworn in January.

“Mexico and the US are allies, associates and neighbors. When Mexico does well, the US does well. And when the US does well, Mexico does well,” Peña Nieto said.

And Mexico’s foreign minister also sent a signal that Mexico would be open to, not dismantling NAFTA, but to modernizing the trade agreement.

“We are willing to talk about this with the new (American) government and with Canada as well,” said Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu.