Mexico will not accept any condition that are damaging to its dignity, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in an oblique reference to the US.
During his fifth state of the nation address, the first since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the US president, Pena Nieto spoke of his country’s newly tense ties with Washington, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
“I have said it before and I reiterate: we will not accept anything that goes against our dignity as a nation,” Pena Nieto told an audience of some 1,500 invited guests at the National Palace in capital Mexico City.
After several weeks of silence on the controversial subject, Trump recently revived his calls for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
He also suggested the US might be better off withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), amid talks to re-negotiate the deal. The statement was interpreted by officials in Mexico as a tactic to pressure the country into giving in to Washington’s demands on trade.
Pena Nieto said his country will continue to work with the United States on common problems, such as a safe border and immigration.
“The relationship with the new government of the United States, as with any other nation, needs to be based on irrevocable principles: sovereignty, defense of national interests and the protection of our fellow nationals,” said Pena Nieto, referring to undocumented Mexican migrants living in the US.
Amid rumors that Trump plans to abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a 2012 program that extends educational and employment rights to young Mexicans who were taken to the United States by their undocumented parents, Pena Nieto expressed his solidarity for the youth, who are known as “dreamers.”
“To all of you young dreamers, my greatest recognition, admiration and solidarity,” said Pena Nieto.
Without DACA, dreamers will no longer be able to renew their residency and work permits, and run the risk of being deported.