The Slatest

Mexican President Again Cancels Official Visit to the U.S. Over Tense Call With Trump

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a ceremony on January 18, 2018.
Norberto Duarte/Getty Images

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has called off what was to be his first official visit to the White House after a phone call with President Trump in which Trump “lost his temper” while discussing plans for a border wall, according to the Washington Post.

In an almost hour-long conversation Tuesday, Trump refused to “publicly affirm Mexico’s position” that it would not pay for Trump’s border wall, U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with the call told the Post.

Peña Nieto was angered over this threat of public embarrassment at the hands of the U.S. president, given the widespread derision for the wall in Mexico. According to the Post:

[U.S.] officials described [Trump] instead as being frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.

Trump, one Mexican official said, “lost his temper.”

One U.S. official told CNN that a meeting between the two leaders would now be “awkward and counterproductive” because of Trump’s repeated declaration that Mexico would fund the wall. Peña Nieto had been considering an official trip in April or May, according to the Post.

A year ago, the Associated Press reported that in a disastrous phone call between the two presidents, Trump told Peña Nieto that “you have a bunch of bad hombres down there” and that “I think your military is scared; Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.” Later revelations about that call found that Trump had threatened tariffs to make Mexico pay for the wall and asked Peña Nieto to stop publicly stating Mexico would not do so, admitting his campaign promises about the wall put him in a tight spot, politically, and that he was concerned about the press coverage. During the call, Peña Nieto held his position.

The official speaking to CNN described this week’s call as “less hostile” but “no more productive” than that conversation a year ago.

Peña Nieto had also planned an official visit last year but cancelled it after Trump tweeted that “if Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

Peña Nieto’s interactions with Trump have generally been seen as disastrous for the Mexican president, who has been criticized as allowing himself to be bullied by the American president.

Tuesday’s phone call represents a sign of the continued decline in the relationship between the two countries. As Joshua Keating wrote in Slate, Mexico has for decades agreed that the country should aim for a close political and economic relationship with the U.S. Trump’s presidency has essentially spat on that stance.

Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.