Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s M.I.T.-educated minister of finance and confidant of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has resigned in a move widely seen as fallout from Donald Trump’s visit to that country last week.
Peña Nieto made the announcement in Mexico City, but he gave no reason for the change, nor did he say whether Videgaray, a key aide since 2005, would receive a new post.
According to the Associated Press, Videgaray was the “architect” of Trump’s visit to Mexico. The Republican presidential candidate is wildly unpopular there, given his characterizations of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. as “criminals” and rapists” and for insisting that Mexico pay for a border wall. Peña Nieto himself has come under heavy criticism for inviting Trump and then appearing deferential to the candidate.
The move was fraught with political hazards for Peña Nieto from the start. The Washington Post reports that the Mexican president’s own cabinet was “deeply divided” over the Trump invitation and that Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu opposed it.
The Post also offered this quote:
” ‘The political cost [of the visit] was extremely high for Peña Nieto, and he was obliged to find someone to blame,’ said Alberto Arnaut, a political science professor at the College of Mexico, explaining the minister’s departure.
“The Trump visit, he said, ‘was a monumental failure.’ ”
The New York Times discussed the lingering impact of the Trump visit:
“The discontent has continued to boil on social media and in the press, and an anti-Peña Nieto demonstration has been called for Sept. 15. On Tuesday, an opposition senator — seeking to provide the defense of Mexico that he said Mr. Peña Nieto had failed to provide — submitted a bill that would empower the government to fight back against several of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy proposals, including his promise to force Mexico to pay for the construction of a border wall and his vow to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Leaving aside Peña Nieto’s problems, Videgaray’s resignation is a sharp setback for an economist who looked to be a possible nominee of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or P.R.I., for the Mexican presidency in 2018. Videgaray was Peña Nieto’s campaign manager in the 2012 election. As finance minister, he led Peña Nieto’s efforts to reform the Mexican economy. His successor is Yale-trained economist Jose Antonio Meade, who held the post of finance minister under the former president, Felipe Calderon.