Donald Trump's hyperbolic rhetoric about Mexico apparently has claimed a victim.
Mexico abruptly replaced its low-profile ambassador to Washington with an experienced, well-traveled diplomat and put a public relations expert into its Foreign Ministry’s top spot for American affairs.
The move comes after many Mexicans have complained about their government’s anemic response to what they consider outrageous comments by the Republican presidential candidate.
Mexican Ambassador Miguel Basañez Ebergenyi, an academic, served only seven months in Washington, an unusually short stint for the country's most important diplomatic post.
Named to replace him is Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, who has been consul general in Los Angeles for three years and previously served at Mexican consulates in New York, Chicago, Toronto and San Antonio.
A Mexican Foreign Ministry statement announcing the changes emphasized Sada’s “broad experience … protecting the rights of Mexicans in North America, as well as defending the interests of Mexico abroad.”
Basañez last summer had famously counseled publicly that Mexicans should not worry about a Trump candidacy. He said the real estate tycoon would certainly apologize to Mexico for calling its people rapists and criminals, an apology Trump has yet to offer.
In addition to naming a new ambassador in Washington, who still must be confirmed by the Mexican Senate, the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto named Paulo Carreño to the post of undersecretary for North America in the Foreign Ministry.
He had been serving as the president’s czar for improving the image of Mexico and its government abroad and is expected to put those lobbying skills to new use.
Until recently, many in Mexico bemoaned their government’s failure to challenge Trump’s more xenophobic statements.
On Tuesday, for example, Trump said he would make Mexico pay for a huge wall along the entire Southwest border by blocking the estimated $25 billion in remittances that Mexicans working in the United States send to relatives back home each year.
Most experts agree such a move, even if possible, would be disastrous for economies on both sides of the Rio Grande.
President Obama dismissed the idea as unworkable.
"The notion that we're going to track every Western Union bit of money that's being sent to Mexico, you know, good luck with that," Obama told reporters on Tuesday.
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