CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Mexican politicians put aside differences Thursday to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to deploy National Guard troops to the border.
In the midst of a hotly contested campaign ahead of the July 1 presidential elections, President Enrique Pena Nieto praised even opposition candidates he usually quarrels with, as they joined in criticizing Trump's latest move.
"The presidential candidates, independently of their natural differences, all of them coincided in rejecting these measures that run counter to good relations between neighbours," Pena Nieto said in a broadcast message.
He mentioned all four candidates, including front runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at whom he has levelled veiled criticism in the past, in part because Lopez Obrador has pledged to undo some of Pena Nieto's market-oriented reforms if elected.
Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday that "we will not accept the use of force, the militarization of the border. Problems aren't solved that way; peace and tranquility are derived from justice." Lopez Obrador said Mexico should send a line of white-clad peace demonstrators to the border.
Pena Nieto added, addressing Trump, "if your recent statements are derived from your frustration with (U.S.) domestic politics, with your laws or your congress, deal with them, not with us Mexicans. We will not allow any negative rhetoric to define our actions."
The country's Senate passed a resolution Wednesday calling on Mexico's government to suspend co-operation with the U.S. on illegal immigration and drug trafficking in retaliation for Trump's move.
Presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya went further, saying Mexico should limit anti-terrorism co-operation until the National Guard is withdrawn. Anaya is the candidate of a left-right coalition in the country's July 1 presidential election.
Ruling party candidate Jose Antonio Meade said that "independently of our political differences, it is time for all the presidential candidates to unite in defence of the sovereignty and dignity of the nation ... to reject and repudiate thus kind of measure."
Others took Trump's decision with a grain of salt after the Mexican government said Guard troops "will not carry weapons or have immigration or customs duties."
The newspaper El Heraldo said in a headline Thursday "U.S. deploys National Guard ... tin soldiers."
On the border, Mexicans unanimously rejected the measure, but also agreed it wouldn't have much practical effect.
"The attitude of militarization seems to us like just one more insult that we Mexicans don't deserve," said Ramon Galindo, the state government representative in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
"Having soldiers on the other side won't make absolutely any difference at all," Galindo said, noting that migration, trade and cross-border exchanges are a reality.
Jorge de Santiago, a maquiladora worker whose house sits right on the border, said of the deployment: "It looks bad, but it doesn't do much. It's pure populism, just meant to frighten people."