Furious protests as Trump visits Mexico
Shock trip an attempt to win over Hispanic voters
Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30
Donald Trump last night faced protests as he made a surprise visit to see the Mexican president in a bid to win over Hispanic voters and rescue his faltering election campaign.
The Republican nominee's shock decision to make the trip was a risky move, as he is widely despised in Mexico for frequently insulting the country and its people while on the campaign trail, but was seen as an attempt to appear "presidential".
Mr Trump held a meeting with Mr Pena Nieto, whom he has previously compared to Hitler, before flying to Arizona where he was due to give a major address that would clarify his position on immigration.
The Mexican president may have invited Mr Trump to Mexico, but outside the palace, his countrymen seemed united in their hatred for the tycoon.
For Diego Garcia, Mr Trump is the man who ruined his family's life and he was hell-bent on voicing his rage. In the year since the real estate mogul emerged as a political phenomenon in America, two of Mr Garcia's relatives, who were living in Arkansas and Utah, have been fired from their jobs.
"It happened after his hate speech started," he said as he protested about Mr Trump's visit to Mexico. "Their bosses turned on them and said: 'You're Mexican; you're fired'."
Standing near the Angel of Independence central statue in Mexico city, a stream of cars honked their support for Mr Garcia's protest.
Mr Trump built his presidential campaign on a promise that he would expel some 11 million undocumented Hispanics from the US using a "deportation force".
But he has appeared to backtrack in recent weeks, hinting that he might be willing to "soften" his position. At one point, he suggested that he might only deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records - a position not so far removed from America's current policy.
Across the country - and crucially in the key swing states - Mr Trump trails way behind his rival Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in support among minorities.
But in both his visit with Mr Pena Nieto and his Arizona address, Mr Trump will have to walk the fine line between pleasing his Republican base and expanding it.
While the centre-right will see his Mexico debut as a key test of Mr Trump's diplomatic credentials, any softening on his stated positions will be seen as a betrayal by his faithful.
In the course of his campaign, Mr Trump has called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. He has threatened to unravel the North American Free Trade Agreement - a move that could devastate the Mexican economy.
Mr Trump's most cheered-for policy by his supporters is the building of a giant wall to separate Mexico from the US, and his assertion that Mr Pena Nieto will pay for it - something that the Mexican president has furiously refused to agree to.
Mike Pence, Mr Trump's running mate, said the tycoon and Mr Pena were expected to discuss the logistics of Mr Trump's proposed border wall.
Mr Pena Nieto was widely criticised for inviting Mr Trump for a meeting. Vincente Fox, the former Mexican president, warned that his invitation to Mr Trump risked inflicting serious damage to his presidency.
"Mr Trump is using Mexico, using President Pena Nieto, to boost his sinking poll numbers," Mr Fox told CNN yesterday.
He said Mr Pena Nieto was "taking an enormous political risk" by hosting Mr Trump. "If he's gone soft on Trump, it will hurt him greatly," Mr Fox said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)