The Mexican government summoned the United States ambassador to explain President Donald Trump’s claim that migrant women traveling through Mexico are being raped at record levels, the Interior Secretary said yesterday.
“. . . The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs [SRE] called the ambassador [Roberta Jacobson] for consultation . . . to set forth specific cases where Honduran women or Honduran people have supposedly been raped,” Alfonso Navarrete Prida said, adding that Trump’s comment was part of his “aggressive discourse” towards Mexico.
The Interior Secretary said that the SRE “very clearly rejected” the claim in its meeting with Ambassador Roberta Jacobson.
At an event in Virginia Thursday, Trump made a reference to his 2015 assertion that some Mexican migrants are “rapists” before making the new allegation.
“And yesterday, it came out where, this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that,” he said.
It was unclear whether Trump was referring to the migrant caravan currently traveling through Mexico or to migration through the country generally.
The U.S. president railed against the caravan in a series of angry tweets this week, in which he also threatened to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop migration and drug flows through its territory.
His anger over the large contingent of migrants was apparently the catalyst for his announcement Tuesday that he intended to deploy the military to the border until the proposed border wall is built.
Asked about Trump’s new rape allegation yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee suggested that he may have been citing an article from The Los Angeles Times.
“There was a story, I believe it was the L.A. Times that documented some of that,” she said.
However, the Times countered that the story Huckabee appeared to refer to only said that “robberies, rapes and assaults — perpetrated by smugglers, cartel members and Mexican immigration agents — are common.”
A Times reporter described this year’s migrant caravan as “peaceful and family-oriented” and said that women members “praised it as a much safer alternative to traveling alone or with smugglers.”
Women in the caravan told the newspaper the Daily Mail they had not heard of a single accusation of rape or sexual abuse since the march began late last month and described Trump’s claim as “fake news.”
Mexico’s move to call the ambassador in for face-to-face talks about Trump’s seemingly unfounded claim is unprecedented in the bilateral relationship. Previously, Mexico has expressed any dissatisfaction with the United States government through diplomatic notes.
The same day, President Enrique Peña Nieto rebuked Trump over his plan to send National Guard troops to the Mexico-U.S. border in a sternly-worded video.
It was the toughest stance the president has taken in response to Trump’s continuing criticism of Mexico over immigration and organized crime. “Nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico,” he declared.
Meanwhile, two of four United States border states are forging ahead with Trump’s new plan to fight illegal immigration and drug flows from Mexico.
Arizona and Texas announced yesterday they would send 400 National Guard troops to the southern border by next week.
The U.S. defense secretary yesterday approved the deployment of up to 4,000 troops, the Associated Press reported.
The office of New Mexico Governor Susana Martínez said yesterday it had not yet deployed any guard members while the office of her California counterpart, Jerry Brown, has not yet made any announcement regarding the plan.
California is the only border state currently governed by the Democratic Party and has previously clashed with Trump over issues including immigration and the environment, giving rise to speculation that it will refuse to cooperate with the president’s new strategy.
Press Secretary Huckabee told reporters yesterday that “we’re going to continue to work with California and we’re hopeful that they’ll do the right thing,” adding that guard troops from the other three border states could be deployed to the west coast state if Brown refused to do so.
Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray said Thursday that “if the deployment of the National Guard results in a militarization [of the border], it would have grave consequences for the bilateral relationship.”
The Mexican Senate has put forward a proposal urging the government to end migration and security cooperation with the United States over Trump’s plan.
According to a Defense Department memo, the National Guard personnel will not “interact with migrants or other persons detained” without the approval of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Earlier in the week, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen advised Mexico that the troops will be unarmed and not directly engage in immigration or customs controls.
United States federal law restricts the military from carrying out law enforcement duties.