Mexico to contact US candidates to rebut 'disinformation'

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a welcome ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City, on Feb 26, 2016.
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a welcome ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City, on Feb 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Donald Trump's campaign may get a phone call from Mexico's government if the billionaire, who has railed against Mexican migrants, wins the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration will contact whoever wins the Republican and Democratic nominations to discuss the virtues of bilateral relations and counter "disinformation" about Mexico on the campaign trail, a government official said on Tuesday (March 1).

"A lot of what is being said about Mexico in the US election is not right," Pena Nieto's chief of staff Francisco Guzman told reporters.

"The discussion among the candidates in general does not reflect - and this is what we see as a government - what has been, is and can be a positive, deep and constructive relation between Mexico and the United States," he said.

Trump and his top Republican rivals, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have taken a hard stance against illegal immigration, demanding more deportations for the 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States.

But the real estate mogul has used the strongest language, accusing Mexico of sending "rapists" and vowing to force the Mexican government to pay for a wall along the nearly 2,000 mile (more than 3,000km) border.

Guzman said he has asked Pena Nieto's foreign media and "country brand" coordinator, Paulo Carreno King, to reach out to the eventual nominees to "give them a basic briefing about the wealth of Mexico and of our bilateral relation".

The effort would be "neutral", he stressed, adding that the government would also use its network of consulates in the United States to provide more information about Mexico and the contributions made by immigrants.

Guzman said he expects the discourse on the US campaign trail to change tone once the primaries are over.

He spoke as Americans voted on Super Tuesday, the primary season's most pivotal day. Races in a number of states could confirm Democrat Hillary Clinton and Trump as the favorites to win their parties' nominations.

"The dynamic of the election race will lead to an adjustment in the type of language and speeches that have taken place," Guzman said.

"In my opinion, what you have to say to your party's base is one thing and another thing is what you have to say to the electorate in general."

The Mexican government decried Trump's comments about migrants last year as "prejudiced and absurd".

During a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden last week, Pena Nieto bemoaned - without mentioning names - those who "have the vision to close themselves off... build walls, but this only means isolating oneself and ending up alone".

Biden, a Democrat, said he felt the need to apologise for the "dangerous" statements made by presidential candidates.

Pena Nieto's two predecessors have reacted angrily to Trump's statements.

Former president Vicente Fox dropped the F-bomb last week denouncing Trump's vow to build a wall while Felipe Calderon called the Republican front runner a racist, drawing a parallel with Adolf Hitler.