MEXICO CITY: Mexicans have smashed Donald Trump pinatas and torched the Republican White House hopeful’s effigy. Now they hope he will crash and burn in Tuesday’s US presidential election.
The New York billionaire became Mexico’s bogeyman ever since he called migrants “rapists” and drug dealers when he launched his campaign last year.
“The guy is a clown, a blowhard,” said Jafet Granados, an 18-year-old biotechnology student who was standing under Mexico City’s Angel of Independence monument. “If he wins, he won’t do half of what he has promised.”
The government certainly sees risks in a Trump victory. Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said while a Trump victory would undoubtedly cause more “volatility” in the markets, the country was on strong financial footing to deal with it.
And central bank chief Agustin Carstens, who warned in September that Trump could hit Mexico like a powerful “hurricane,” said this week that the government had a contingency plan to weather the storm.
With his vows to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement and make Mexico pay to build a massive border wall, Trump’s rise in opinion polls just before the US vote contributed to the fall of the Mexican peso to 19.50 per dollar.
The peso however soared to 18.5563 per dollar in early Asian trading on Monday after the FBI lifted the threat of charges against Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Not everyone in Mexico is putting a brave face on a possible victory for the 70-year-old Manhattan property mogul.
Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim has warned that a Trump administration would “destroy” the US economy by imposing big tariffs on imports.
“As we say in Mexico, being a drunk is different from being a bartender,” Slim quipped to reporters on Friday. Trump lashed out at Slim last month after The New York Times published claims from women accusing the real estate baron of sexual misconduct. Slim is the newspaper’s largest shareholder.
Despite Trump’s unpopularity in Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto made the shocking decision to invite him to his official residence in August.
The invitation and Pena Nieto’s failure to forcefully criticize Trump during a joint news conference angered Mexicans.
Pena Nieto defended the move, saying it was important to open dialogue with someone who could be the next US president, though he admitted that he may have rushed to hold the meeting and failed to anticipate the anger it caused.
Even the Republican Party’s representative in Mexico, Larry Rubin, is not voting Trump.
“It wouldn’t be good for the United States and much less for relations between the United States and Mexico,” Rubin, a dual US-Mexican citizen, told the Televisa network. “His rhetoric has been very negative,” he said. “It would be a disgrace.”