The trouble with Trump in Mexico

Media captionWhat do Mexicans think of Donald Trump?

“Immigration is the only thing that drives Donald Trump crazy apart from yellow number 5 hair colour,” jokes Chumel Torres, a Mexican comedian that has taken the internet by storm.

His show, El Pulso de la Republica (The Pulse of the Republic), is Mexico’s answer to the US late-night talk show The Daily Show.

While there are few Mexicans who find US Republican candidate Donald Trump funny, laughing in the face of adversity is the strategy Torres has decided to adopt and he seems to be doing something right.

The comedian, who originally trained as an engineer, has 1.5 million subscribers to his Spanish-language YouTube channel and a growing number of fans for his newer English-language version too.

The appetite for Trump gags is high but it is starting to wear thin, Torres says.

“I’m tired of talking about Trump because it’s always the same,” he tells me.

“It’s like [musician] Kanye West, it’s like [reality TV stars] the Kardashians. You know it’s stupid so let’s just move on – it’s not funny anymore. As a comedian you want the fresh kick and with Trump it’s just the same jokes every time. It’s starting to get dull.”

Mother’s fears

Joking aside, Donald Trump’s rise is worrying for many Mexicans who rely on remittances from their families who live in the US.

Dona Irlanda Lujano, 58, lives in Cuautepec, a poor neighbourhood to the north of Mexico City.

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Dona Irlanda Lujano lives in a poor area and relies on remittances from her sons in the US

She shares her simple house with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren.

The neighbourhood they live in is right on the border with Mexico State, one of the most deprived parts of the country.

Most of the people here have family living in the US or have relatives who have spent time there and have now returned.

Dona Irlanda’s three sons all made the journey to the US illegally.

They now live in Los Angeles and she has not seen one of them for more than 20 years.

They talk on [the chat app] Skype at least once a week and they send her between $100 (£70) and $150 every month which enables the family back in Mexico to live.

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Dona Irlanda shares her home with her husband, her daughter and two grandchildren

In recent months, they have had several chats about the implications of Donald Trump, who has made the fight against illegal immigration the main plank of his campaign, winning the Republican nomination.

“It’s pretty worrying no?” she says. “It’s going to get much harder if they send all of the Mexicans back here. My sons ask me where they would find work. It’s hard, you can’t earn very much.”

‘Hot like chilli’

Many here in Mexico have been angered by Mr Trump, who has called Mexican migrants “criminals” and “rapists”.

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Vicente Fox says Mr Trump is a “danger for the world”

For a long time, the Mexican officials refused to comment publicly, arguing it was not their place to discuss US presidential candidates.

But there seems to have been a change of heart recently.

Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu called his policies and comments “ignorant and racist” and, more recently, President Enrique Pena Nieto compared Mr Trump’s strident tone to that of Hitler and Mussolini.

But one of the fiercest reactions came from former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Mr Fox responded to Mr Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for a border wall to keep Mexican migrants from crossing to the US with a strong expletive and an assurance that Mexico would not pay.

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Mr Trump wants to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico

In the past month, his language may have mellowed but his attitude has not.

“He will never change and this is a danger for the world,” Mr Fox told me, speaking of Mr Trump.

“Well, we Mexicans may be small, but we are hot like chilli [peppers], so he shouldn’t mess with us.”

‘Crazy ideas’

Most Mexicans I have met feel that whether or not Mr Trump gets the Republican nomination in the end, the relationship between the two countries has already been damaged.

“I am surprised about the opinion of the Americans, I didn’t think so many people would be supporting these crazy ideas,” says Daniela Robedo, 27.

“I used to go every year to summer camps [in the US]. If I had kids right now I wouldn’t send them. What if they meet these people with these crazy ideas and they are influenced by it?”

Mexican historian Enrique Krauze thinks the US presidential campaign is bringing out the worst in some Americans: “The nativism – the mistrust of the immigrant – has always been a feature of the United States.

“They distrusted and hated the Irish, the Poles, the Jews, the Italians. Every wave since the 19th Century was met with distrust. And now the new victims are the Mexicans. Frankly, I cannot be more offended by the words of that ignorant bigot saying that Mexicans are murderers and rapists.”

“He’s truly playing into the most obscure and darkest places of the American soul,” the Mexican historian adds.

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