• Mexican finance minister resigns amid Trump scandal

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    MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s finance minister Luis Videgaray resigned on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) following Donald Trump’s controversial visit to the country, with the US Republican presidential candidate boasting it showed his trip had been a success. “I let them know where the United States stands,” Trump said during a televised forum with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. “And if you look what happened, the aftermath today, people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That’s how well we did.” Videgaray, a close confidant of President Enrique Pena Nieto, stepped down earlier on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) amid fallout from the New York billionaire’s visit which he helped arrange. Pena Nieto said he had accepted Videgaray’s resignation but made no mention of reports he played a crucial role in setting up Trump’s August 31 meeting with the president. Pena Nieto has faced a barrage of criticism over his decision to hold talks with Trump, who has threatened to make Mexico pay for a wall on the border to stop migrants from entering the United States illegally. He has also vowed to deport millions of Mexican immigrants illegally living in the United States, and cancel trade agreements with Mexico. The Washington Post reported last week that Videgaray was a leading advocate for the sit-down at Los Pinos, serving as the behind-the-scenes liaison with Trump’s campaign. Videgaray saw the meeting as a political risk worth taking in case Trump was elected, the Post said. But the visit backfired on the president, with Mexicans voicing outrage that a US politician who has branded Mexican migrants as “rapists” would get such a prestigious invitation. The president’s approval rating has since sunk to 23 percent, according to one poll. More than 88 percent of Mexicans expressed displeasure over Trump’s visit, according to a survey by the Mitofsky polling firm. Pena Nieto told Milenio television this week that he took the decision to invite Trump, and that “nobody recommended it to me.” A long-time aide, Videgaray managed Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign in 2012. Luis Carlos Ugalde, director general of the consultancy Integralia Consultores, said Videgaray’s resignation could be linked to the Trump visit. “I suppose it has to do with the fact that the political cost for the president has been very high,” he said. Videgaray’s role compromised his ability to negotiate the budget with the Congress this week, he added. Meade, who served as foreign minister for Pena Nieto and finance minister under former president Felipe Calderon, defended Trump’s visit in a newspaper interview published prior to Videgaray’s resignation.

    AFP

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