Donald Trump’s famous border wall proposal, however implausible, is being taken very seriously by Mexico’s top politicians.
President Enrique Peña Nieto was the latest to weigh in on the Republican presidential candidate’s idea to block off the entire US-Mexico border with a 35-foot-high concrete wall—and making Mexico pick up the bill.
There is no scenario under which that would happen, Peña Nieto assured newspaper Excelsior Monday, likening Trump’s “strident tone” to that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Peña Nieto had held off on commenting on Trump’s wall, even as his predecessors condemned it. But the candidate’s string of primary victories, including in Nevada with 45% of the Hispanic vote, might have compelled the Mexican leader to finally to speak out.
Trump’s border policies are a nightmarish prospect for Mexico and its economy. The US is Mexico’s largest trading partner, a relationship that Trump has repeatedly said costs Americans billions of dollars.
Here’s what Mexico’s three most recent presidents think about Trump and his ideas:
Peña Nieto (2012- )
For Mexico’s latest president, a career politician who is married to a former soap-opera star, the wall will not only fail to solve the complex immigration problem, but could have horrible consequences.
“That’s how Mussolini came to power and that’s how Hitler came to power,” he said. They took advantage of public discontent and eventually started a world war, he added.
“I hope there’s room for good judgement and restraint within the electorate there,” he said.
Felipe Calderón (2006-2012)
Calderón, a Harvard-trained conservative, was less diplomatic in comments aired by CNBC last month. ”He can spend all his money—it’s not as much as he says anyway–building a wall,” he said of Trump. ”We are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall.”
Trump’s proposal is missing the reality, he said. Illegal immigration from Mexico into the US has been in decline. Meanwhile, Mexicans love to spend their pesos north of the border.
“The first loser of such kind of policy will be the United States,” he said, adding that anyone who thinks closing the border will bring prosperity is “completely crazy.”
He was more careful about sharing his thoughts on what a Trump victory would say about Americans: “If the people of the United States is able to elect someone like him (long pause) dot, dot dot.”
Vicente Fox (2000-2006)
Vicente Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive, didn’t mince words. He called Trump supporters “followers of a false prophet.”
“Please, you Hispanics, Latins in the US, open your eyes!” he told Univision’s Jorge Ramos in Miami. “This nation is going to fail if it goes into the hands of a crazy guy.”
He had other choice epithets for Trump: ”blowhard,” “vain,” “ignorant,” “egocentric.”
Like his presidential colleagues, he refused, though rather more crudely, to finance Trump’s project.
“I’m not paying for that fucking wall,” he said. “He should pay for it.”