After days of President Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric against immigration via Mexico, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto delivered a stern response to his US counterpart, telling him that “nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico.”
The five-minute-long speech was delivered in Spanish and posted in a video on the Mexican President’s Twitter account on Thursday.
That same day, Trump detailed his plans to deploy 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border until the completion of his long-promised wall. It also comes after days of tough talk on Twitter, including the threat of pulling the US out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has called Mexico’s “cash cow.”
In the speech, Peña Nieto addressed his American counterpart directly.
“President Trump: if you wish to reach agreements with Mexico, we stand ready, as we have proved until now, always willing to engage in a dialogue, acting in earnestness, in good faith and in a constructive spirit,” he said. “If your recent statements are the result of frustration due to domestic policy issues, to your laws or to your Congress, it is to them that you should turn to, not to Mexicans. We will not allow negative rhetoric to define our actions. We will only act in the best interest of Mexicans.”
“Paraphrasing the words of a great President of the United States of America: we will have no fear to negotiate, but we will never negotiate out of fear,” Peña Nieto continued, referencing former President John F. Kennedy. “We stand ready to negotiate, certainly, but always based on mutual respect. Something that brings together and unites absolutely all Mexicans is our certainty that nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico.”
Peña Nieto said he would not falter from the “two fundamental principles” that guided his interactions with the Trump administration: to protect the “sovereignty and the dignity of the Mexican people” and “to maintain a constructive and open approach” in negotiating agreements.
Those principles had allowed for progress between Mexico and the US on issues like NAFTA and fighting “transnational organized crime,” Peña Nieto said.
“The bilateral relationship entails enormous opportunities that should benefit both nations. It is an intense and dynamic relationship, which understandably also poses challenges,” the Mexican President explained. “Nevertheless, these will never justify threatening or disrespectful attitudes between our countries.”
Peña Nieto cited the Mexican Senate’s unanimous resolution condemning Trump’s rhetoric and National Guard deployment as well as Mexican presidential candidates’ statements rejecting the same.
“This is us: 125 million Mexicans, very proud of who we are,” he said.
CNN’s Jackie Castillo contributed to this report.