It was a meeting that would have probably been scandalous just two months ago. But when Donald Trump summoned Carlos Slim to meet him in his Mar-a-Lago golf resort on Saturday, the Mexican government and business community hardly batted an eye.
It’s the latest indication that Mexicans are stoically adjusting to the realization that Trump—the man who built his campaign by demonizing their country—is about to become the next president of the United States, like it or not.
The Washington Post reported that Slim’s meeting with Trump was orchestrated by the president-elect’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandoski, who visited Mexico City earlier this month.
“After the election, Slim connected with Lewandoski— someone he saw as having Trump’s ear but not as a formal member of his staff — and arranged for them to discuss trade, economic and other issues, according to people with knowledge of the session,” The Post reported.
Slim’s son-in-law tweeted on Monday that Trump “invited” the Mexican billionaire to a “very cordial dinner”— one that he said showed great promise for Mexico and Mexicans.
Trump later tweeted that Slim called him about getting together for a meeting. He referred to the world’s 4th richest man as “A GREAT GUY”— a high honor in all-caps.
It’s unclear who sought whom for the dinner date, but the fact that it happened and that both men were grinning about it afterwards suggests a significant change in posture after the two have exchanged personal attacks in the recent past.
Slim joined other Mexican and U.S. corporations who cut business ties with Trump after his campaign comments referring to Mexicans as “criminals” and “rapists.” Slim had one of his TV companies cancel a production contract with Trump for a show.
Trump then accused Slim, the largest individual shareholder of The New York Times, of favoring Hillary Clinton and using the newspaper, which he often claims is “failing,” to conspire against his candidacy.
Slim later dismissed the Trump threat at a recent interview with Bloomberg, saying: “I’d be more worried if I were an American.”
Slim said Trump was a reminder to Mexicans that they need to focus on their own economic development. “What is happening with this shock is that Mexico needs to turn back to Mexico. Now we need to get back to Mexico and focus on the internal economy and try to get back to the economy we have forgotten for many years,” he told Bloomberg earlier this month.
According to Bloomberg, Slim lost $5.1 billion when the peso further depreciated against the dollar following Trump’s surprise election win.
Now the Mexican billionaire seems to be playing nice with Trump, something that a few weeks back would have been slammed as treasonous.
Back in August when President Enrique Peña Nieto invited Trump to Mexico City political pundits, intellectuals and society at large criticized the Mexican commander-in-chief for welcoming the enemy into their home.
That scandal even reportedly pushed Peña Nieto to fire his right hand man and Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, who allegedly organized the meeting. Some suggest Videgaray could continue to advise Peña Nieto unofficially now that Trump is president.
Now Slim could become an unlikely channel of communication between the Mexican government and the incoming Trump administration, which is already showing a preferential option for the super wealthy.