Mexico's President Takes Heat For Trump's Visit Mexicans are furious with their president for inviting Donald Trump to visit their country after the GOP presidential candidate spent the last year mocking Mexicans and their nation.
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Mexico's President Takes Heat For Trump's Visit

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Mexico's President Takes Heat For Trump's Visit

Mexico's President Takes Heat For Trump's Visit

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a speech on immigration last night. The speech was billed as a way to bring clarity to his immigration plans. And, in a way, it did. Trump has not backed off his plans to build a bigger wall on the southern border, nor quite renounced his plan to deport millions of people here illegally, but he is working to talk about it all differently. And that effort included yesterday's other big event, his visit to Mexico City where he stood with Mexico's president. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports on what the Mexican public thinks.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: President Enrique Pena Nieto's surprise invite to Donald Trump shocked and upset Mexicans. Former presidents took to the airwaves to tell Trump he wasn't welcome. Politicians demanded that Pena Nieto withdraw the invite, and columnists and commentators filled the airwaves and social media with resounding condemnation of the president. In front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, protesters shouted.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Viva Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Viva. Yankee, go home. Yankee, go home.

KAHN: Long live Mexico, and Yankee, go home. And on the steps of the Angel of Independence Monument in Mexico City's Grand Reforma Avenue, a handful of people held handmade signs reading Trump go home and take Pena Nieto with you. While the protests were small, the anger was great. Forty-seven-year-old Armando Nava says, what was Pena Nieto thinking?

ARMANDO NAVA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: It's just so illogical, so wrong, says Nava. How can someone bring a person to their house that has insulted them so gravely?

Trump arrived at Pena Nieto's presidential house early yesterday afternoon. The two men spoke privately for more than an hour, then addressed the press. With Trump beside him and speaking through an interpreter, Pena Nieto said Mexicans are hard-working, good people.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO: (Through interpreter) Therefore, Mexican people deserve the respect from everyone.

KAHN: Trump said he agreed, quite a turnaround from previous disparaging remarks he's made about many of the Mexicans who've come to live in the U.S.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans, not only in terms of friendships, but in terms of the tremendous numbers that I employ in the United States. And they are amazing people, amazing people.

KAHN: Asked whether he and Pena Nieto talked about his plan to make Mexico pay for a border wall, Trump said it didn't come up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We didn't discuss payment of the wall. That will be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting. I think it was an excellent meeting.

KAHN: But after Trump left Mexico, Pena Nieto contradicted the GOP candidate, tweeting that they had discussed it. And he was clear that Mexico will not pay for a wall. On the streets, Mexicans were not impressed. Fifty-four-year-old Gustavo Flores says President Pena Nieto's invitation to Trump is going to cost him.

GUSTAVO FLORES: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Our president made a mistake," he said, "I think yet another mistake." Pena Nieto has been dealing with a slew of recent political gaffes and personal scandals. There's the questionable real estate deals between his wife and well-connected government contractors, multiple allegations of human rights abuses and killings by state security forces and the recent revelation that he plagiarized nearly a third of his law school thesis. A recent poll put his approval ratings at 23 percent, the lowest ever for a modern Mexican President.

DENISE DRESSER: Pena Nieto miscalculated.

KAHN: Political commentator Denise Dresser says Pena Nieto was hoping to divert public attention from his problems. Instead, she says, he angered everyone by not demanding a public apology from Trump or condemning his call for a wall to be built between the two countries.

DRESSER: And Mexicans today feel betrayed by their president and feel that Trump got the upper hand, once again, at Mexico's expense.

KAHN: Watching protesters chant get out trump, Gustavo Flores says Pena Nieto is out of touch.

FLORES: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "If the president thought his popularity was low before Trump's visit," Flores says, "it's going to get even worse now." Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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