Spain’s Rajoy calls Mexico to offer solidarity over Trump hostility

Foreign minister denies Spanish government keeping quiet about US president’s controversial orders

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy telephoned Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday to offer support in finding a solution to Mexico’s deteriorating relationship with the new US administration. Rajoy and Peña Nieto agreed to “join efforts in the search for a fair, sensible and reasonable arrangement that will help overcome the current situation.”

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy in Congress on Wednesday.
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy in Congress on Wednesday.Chema Moya (EFE)
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The move represents a break with the Spanish government’s non-committal attitude of previous days. Spain's opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) has criticized the executive’s silence regarding controversial orders signed by US President Donald Trump, including the construction of a border wall with Mexico and a travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries.

On Wednesday, Rajoy and Peña Nieto discussed the difficult moment for US-Mexico relations, and the Spanish leader asked his counterpart about his short-term plans, according to sources at La Moncloa, the Spanish seat of government.

Both men agreed that it is “essential and indispensable” to restore good bilateral relations between the neighboring countries.

The opposition has accused Rajoy of practicing a policy of appeasement

Following the call, the Mexican government issued a release to thank Spain for its solidarity in view of the US government’s new attitude towards Mexico.

“President Peña Nieto expressed his gratitude to the Spanish government and the Spanish people for their show of solidarity, and underscored how much Mexico values its relationship with Spain,” said the release.

Escalating tension

The White House on Wednesday denied that Trump has threatened Peña Nieto with sending US troops to Mexico if that country’s military does not do more to control “the bunch of bad hombres down there.”

The Associated Press has reported that this threat was part of the telephone conversation that both men had on Friday of last week, an excerpt of which was leaked to the news agency. An official source at the White House, speaking on condition of anonymity, told EL PAÍS that “the information about the president threatening to invade Mexico is false. Even the Mexican government is denying those reports.”

A “direct attack”

Also on Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis denied in Congress that the government is being deliberately silent about Trump’s controversial orders, which other European nations and EU institutions have criticized harshly.

Dastis defended the need to act “serenely, without rushing into things.”

Socialist deputy Eduardo Madina accused the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy of practicing “a policy of appeasement” in the face of the US administration’s “direct attack” against Mexico, democracy and human rights.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis in Congress on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis in Congress on Wednesday.Uly Martín

Dastis replied that Spain has shown Mexico “its unconditional support from the very first moment,” and expressed disagreement with the US government’s protectionist measures and its “discriminatory” and “denigrating” treatment of immigrants and refugees.

The minister did not, however, mention the border wall or the travel ban.

On Thursday of last week, King Felipe VI said that Spain wishes to work with the new US administration “with the same level of excellence” as it did with the Obama administration.

English version by Susana Urra.

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