Mexico’s president has joined the growing global chorus of alarm over the rise of Donald Trump, comparing the Republican presidential frontrunner to fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and vowing to never pay for Trump’s proposed border wall.
In an interview with the Mexico City daily newspaper Excelsior, President Enrique Peña Nieto accused Trump of capitalizing on social and economic discord to fuel his rise to power, much as Hitler and Mussolini did decades ago.
“There have been episodes in the history of humanity, unfortunately, where these expressions, this strident rhetoric, have only led to very ominous situations,” said Peña Nieto. “That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in; they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time after an economic crisis. And I think what they brought ended… in global conflagration.”
”This is what we do not want to happen anywhere in the world,” the president added, saying he hoped American voters would act with “prudence and moderation” when they head to the polls.
Peña Nieto insisted he would be “absolutely respectful” of the US political process but scoffed at Trump’s oft-uttered assertion that he would force Mexico to pay for a separation wall along the US-Mexican border. When asked if there were any circumstances under which Mexico would foot the bill for such a wall, Peña Nieto replied, “I see no scenario.”
“I have to say that I regret [Trump’s proposed wall], and of course, I can’t agree with this American politician’s position,” he said.
Some of Peña Nieto’s predecessors used far more colorful language in rejecting Trump’s wall.
“I declare, I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall,” said Vicente Fox, who led Mexico from 2000 until 2006, in a recent interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “He should pay for it. He’s got the money.” Fox, who has also compared Trump to Hitler, added that America will “fail if it goes into the hands of a crazy guy” and urged Hispanic voters to “open your eyes.”
Felipe Calderón, who served as president from 2006 until 2012, recently told CNBC that Mexico was having none of Trump’s plan.
“Mexican people, we are not going to pay a single cent for such a stupid wall! And it’s going to be completely useless,” he said.
Trump is widely unpopular in Mexico and much of Latin America, largely due to his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and his repeated anti-immigrant proclamations. The billionaire real estate tycoon launched his presidential bid last June by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers,” adding that “some, I assume, are good people.”
The GOP frontrunner has also raised eyebrows and ire around the world by calling for a total ban on Muslim immigration and even travel to the United States and by vowingto implement a national database of all Muslim Americans, who he might force to carry special identification cards noting their religion.
On Monday, Reuters reported that a growing number of foreign diplomats have expressed their alarm to US officials over Trump’s inflammatory and insulting remarks. According to three unidentified US officials, diplomats from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East have complained about Trump.
“European diplomats are constantly asking about Trump’s rise with disbelief and, now, growing panic,” said a senior NATO official. “With the EU facing an existential crisis, there’s more than the usual anxiety about the US turning inward when Europe needs US support more than ever.”
While many officials are wary of criticizing Trump on the record—they may have to work with his administration if he is elected, others have been more vocal.
“Whether Donald Trump, Marine le Pen or Geert Wilders—all these right-wing populists are not only a threat to peace and social cohesion, but also to economic development,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel asserted last week, referring to ultra-nationalist, far-right party leaders in France and the Netherlands known for their anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Trump has also come under fire for the sometimes violent manner in which supporters attending his campaign rallies have dealt with protesters. At times, Trump seems to encourage the violence. Last November, he opined that a Black Lives Matter protester “should have been roughed up,” and he said he wanted to punch a protester “in the face” at a February rally in Las Vegas. At that same event, Trump lamented that “we’re not allowed to punch back anymore.”
“I love the old days,” he said. “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
Last week, Indiana Marine Corps recruit Joseph Pryor was booted from the delayed entry program following a racist assault of black University of Louisville student Kayisha Nwanguma.
Trump also caused alarm on Saturday when he asked supporters at a Florida rally to pledge to vote for him by raising their right arms in a manner similar to a Nazi salute. Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former director of the Anti-Defamation League, condemned the action.
“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” Foxman told the Times of Israel. “It is a fascist gesture. He is smart enough—he always tells us how smart he is—to know the images that this evokes.”
Trump, who on Tuesday said it is “ridiculous” to compare the gesture to a Nazi salute, nevertheless enjoys widespread support among white supremacist groups and individuals. The frontrunner further stoked controversy after he recently refused to disavow an endorsement by former Ku Klux Klan leader and presidential candidate David Duke or to condemn the KKK.