MEXICO CITY—Calls for a massive protest against the surprise visit of Donald Trump did not materialize Wednesday in Mexico City, as many Mexicans instead used the moment as an opportunity to criticize President Enrique Peña Nieto for inviting the guy in the first place.
Anger over Trump's arrival was quickly redirected at the Mexican President and into fierce local debate among Mexican intellectuals, political pundits and opposition leaders who draped themselves in the flag and questioned their own government's political judgment.
Everyone tried to get in on the action. The governor of Puebla uploaded to social media a video message in English asking Trump to halt his insults, and a group of Mexican senators called on Peña Nieto to cancel the meeting at the last minute.
In the streets, protesters tried to rally people to action. The calls went out on Twitter and Facebook to take to the streets, and security was ramped up at the U.S. Embassy, where the daily long line of Mexicans waiting for their visa interviews snaked down across the block.
“Trump is a very rude person; he treats us Mexicans like garbage. And Obama? He said he was going to help the Mexicans over there, but he hasn’t,” said a woman from the state of Morelos who asked not to be identified and who had just been denied a visa but was still waiting to hear about her son’s appointment.
A block down the street, at Mexico’s iconic Angel of Independence monument, a handful of protesters gathered. But by noon there were more journalists and TV crews than demonstrators.
“They’re both extremely unpopular in Mexico,” Mexican protester Francisco Espinoza Castro said of Trump and Peña Nieto. “This doesn’t make sense and I can’t even begin to imagine what sorts of ideas Trump will bring up with Peña Nieto. What sort of agreement could they possibly come up with?”
“He can’t just come down here, put on a smile and expects to win over the community he has chastised for so long,” said Natalie Wakings, a native of California who now lives in Mexico City.
“It’s an insult to our country,” added protester Arturo Mead. “I understand [Trump] tries to cause a stir wherever he goes, but he needs to leave the Mexican people alone. He has spread nothing but hate about us.”
Espinoza Castro, a Mexican doctor, said he just hopes Trump doesn't rub off on Mexico's president.
“I really hope it doesn’t become a situation in which Peña Nieto figures that if he can’t beat them, he joins them.”