Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled an official trip to Washington, D.C. planned for some time this March after a heated telephone call with Trump this past Tuesday.
After an extended 50-minute conversation between the two leaders, much of which revolved around discussing Trump’s southern border wall pledge, Trump refused to publicly back down from his repeated promises on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall. According to The Washington Post, Peña Nieto’s “desire to avoid public embarrassment” in any rhetorical sparring with Trump over the issue played a key role in his decision to cancel his trip.
If this story sounds like a repeat of something that happened a long time ago, it is.
Back in January 2017, just after Trump’s inauguration, Peña Nieto cancelled a planned meeting with Trump in Washington after Trump both publicly and privately committed to standing by his pledge to make Mexico pay for the border wall. Trump suggested cancelling the meeting on Twitter on January 26th:
The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
In a phone call with the Mexican president the next day, Trump re-affirmed his position that Mexico should pay for the border wall and suggested that he would be happy to meet with Peña Nieto if he stopped publicly denying that Mexico would ever pay for the wall. Trump also indicated that he personally preferred imposing higher tariffs on trade with Mexico as a measure to pay for the wall, but was still open to negotiations. Unwilling to back down from his refusal to pay for the wall, Peña Nieto ultimately declined to make the trip to Washington.