MEXICO CITY (AFP) - President Enrique Pena Nieto stepped up Mexico's censure of Donald Trump's inflammatory comments about his country, saying the White House hopeful's "strident rhetoric" recalls the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.
Pena Nieto urged Americans to vote cautiously as he used newspaper interviews published Monday to slam the Republican presidential frontrunner's criticism of the Mexican government and migrants.
The Mexican leader condemned Trump's "strident tone," saying such comments seek "very simple solutions" to complicated problems, and he warned that they can hurt US-Mexican relations.
"There have been episodes in the history of humanity, unfortunately, where these expressions, this strident rhetoric, has only really led to ominous scenarios in the history of humanity," he told the daily Excelsior.
"That's how Mussolini and Hitler arrived. They took advantage of a context, maybe a problem, that humanity was experiencing at the time, after an economic crisis. And I think that what was proposed led to what we know from history, a global conflagration," the president said.
Pena Nieto's comments follow tough reactions from his predecessors, with former president Felipe Calderon also drawing a parallel with Hitler and Vicente Fox using an expletive against Trump's call for Mexico to pay for a border wall.
Trump, who leads the race for the Republican nomination, has railed against immigrants and especially immigration from Mexico, accusing the country of sending drug dealers and rapists to the United States.
As for the billionaire's vow to make Mexico pay for a border wall, Pena Nieto told Excelsior there was "no scenario" in which his government would foot the bill.
"I hope that the electorate there is really cautious" and that "in the end it results in a government with which - as we have up to now - we seek dialogue and we continue building bridges of understanding, within the framework of absolute mutual respect," he said.
In an interview with El Universal, Pena Nieto warned that Trump's statements "hurt a relationship that Mexico has sought with the United States of bridges, of dialogue, of rapprochement, of seeking solutions to shared problems".
He added: "It seems to me (such statements) come from an ignorance of Mexico."
The Mexican leader said, however, that he would seek a "constructive dialogue" with whoever is elected the next US president on Nov 8.
Pena Nieto's chief of staff, Francisco Guzman, said earlier this month that the administration would contact the campaigns of the winners of the Republican and Democratic nominations to combat the "disinformation" being said about Mexico.
Guzman said Pena Nieto's foreign media and "country brand" coordinator, Paulo Carreno King, will reach out to the campaign teams to "give them a basic briefing about the wealth of Mexico and of our bilateral relation."
Trump is not the only Republican to have taken a hard stance on immigration. His closest rivals, senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have demanded more deportations for the 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States.