Mexico’s Minister of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal says his predominantly Catholic country is prepared to go to unholy extremes if Republican candidate Donald Trump gets elected in November.
“If we have to talk to the devil to guarantee the safety and the future of the Mexican people—in Mexico and the U.S.— then Mexico we’ll talk to the devil,” Guajardo Villarreal said during an Americas Society/Council of the Americas panel discussion Wednesday night in New York City.
The comments were met with strong applause by the audience, which included diplomats, economists, academics and others in town for the 70th U.N. General Assembly.
Guajardo Villarreal, who attended the meeting to fill in for President Enrique Peña Nieto, was joined on stage by the presidents of Colombia, Chile and Peru to discuss trade and investment in Latin America. But the discussion inevitably turned to Trump and his signature Mexico-bashing.
“Mexico has done some tremendous things in the last couple of years—the energy reform, the telecom reform. How concerned are you … that there’s a possibility Donald Trump will be president of the United States?”, the moderator pressed the Mexican official amid nervous laughs. “How damaging would that be to Mexico?”
“There are many countries that are related to the U.S. economy, but very few that are so related like Mexico,” Guajardo Villarreal replied in English. He said trade and the shared border make the U.S. and Mexico extremely important for each other, and said Mexico would be willing to talk to “the devil” to ensure the continued wellbeing of bilateral relations.
Guajardo Villarreal also dismissed Trump’s claims that if he’s elected president the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would get renegotiated to favor the U.S. “If any U.S. president is talking about renegotiating NAFTA, to dance tango takes two,” he said. “And to renegotiate NAFTA means win-win.”
Guajardo Villarreal’s comments seem to echo the sentiments of President Peña Nieto, who has repeatedly said that Mexico will maintain channels of communication with the U.S. regardless of who wins the White House in November.
Even if it’s the “devil.”