Donald Trump has spent his entire presidential campaign warning against the dangers of Mexican immigrants stealing American jobs, raping women and hauling drugs across the border.
Now, Mexico is fighting back.
Mexican officials are pursuing a counteroffensive to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, reaching out to U.S. business leaders, looking at ways to better use social media, and even encouraging qualified Mexicans to get U.S. citizenship. But they’re also trying to stay sensitive about taking more high-profile steps, such as running TV ads in an already overheated presidential race that promote Mexico as a friendly, vibrant neighbor and not a cesspool of criminals.
“We think that right now, in this phase where there is an electoral process going on, something that we should really do is stay out of it. An advertising campaign at this particular moment could just add confusion,” José Paulo Carreño King, Mexico’s new undersecretary for North America, said in an interview with POLITICO.
Carreño said the decision that Mexico needs to boost its image came after the country, which was being pummeled by Trump but trying to stay restrained, commissioned a series of polls and focus groups in the U.S. late last year.
“What we found out is, again, that the image in general terms of Mexico was quite undervalued or more specifically out of date,” he said. “The image of the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans was damaged and undervalued. And there was no clear image of the importance of the bilateral relationship. That’s when the Mexican government decided that, again, we need to do something.”