Mexican Finance Minister Resigns Amid Trump Scandal


Mexican finance minister resigns amid Trump scandal

MEXICO CITY, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News -7th Sept,2016) : Mexico's finance minister Luis Videgaray stepped down on Wednesday, a surprise move that follows his reported key role in Donald Trump's controversial meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Pena Nieto said he had accepted Videgaray's resignation and replaced him with Social Development Minister Jose Antonio Meade, a former foreign minister who held the finance job between 2011-2012.

Pena Nieto, flanked by both men at the presidential residence of Los Pinos, praised Videgaray as a public servant who has been "committed to Mexico and loyal to the president." The Mexican leader made no mention of reports that Videgaray played a crucial role in setting up US presidential candidate Trump's August 31 meeting with Pena Nieto, which drew scorn in the country.

The Washington Post, citing Mexicans familiar with the deliberations, reported last week that Videgaray was a leading advocate for the sitdown at Los Pinos. Videgaray, an economist who earned a doctorate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), saw the meeting as a political risk that was worth taking, in case Trump was elected, the Post said.

Videgaray was reportedly the behind-the-scenes liaison to the Trump campaign. Trump's visit backfired on the president, with Mexicans voicing outrage that a US politician who has branded Mexican migrants as "rapists" would get such a prestigious invitation.

More than 88 percent of Mexicans expressed displeasure at Trump's visit, according to a survey by the Mitofsky polling firm. - Trump's 'political cost' - ============================ Luis Carlos Ugalde, director general of Integralia Consultores, a consultancy, said Videgaray's resignation could be linked to the Trump visit.

"I suppose it has to do with the fact that the political cost for the president has been very high," Ugalde told AFP. Videgaray's role compromised his ability to negotiate the budget with the Congress, he said.

Trump said at a press conference after the meeting that his demand that Mexico pay for a wall along the border had not been discussed. Pena Nieto, who was criticized for not challenging Trump at the joint press conference, later said that he had told the Republican candidate that his government would not pay for the wall.

The president, however, told Milenio television this week that he took the decision to invite Trump, and that "nobody recommended it to me." Videgaray coordinated Pena Nieto's presidential campaign and has been known as one of his key advisers over the years.

But the economy has not performed as well as hoped, shrinking by 0.3 percent in the second quarter, while the peso has dropped against the Dollar. - Other scandal - ================= Videgaray was also ensnared in a scandal over his purchase of a home from a government contractor.

That same contractor had sold a mansion to Pena Nieto's wife, former soap opera star Angelica Rivera, raising questions of conflicts of interest. An investigation led by the minister for public administration cleared Videgaray and Pena Nieto of wrongdoing last year, but critics questioned the probe as it was conducted by someone picked by the president.

Scandals aside, Videgaray was known as the "intellectual architect" of a series of major structural reforms that Pena Nieto drove through Congress, Ugalde said. "In his handling of the economy, there are mixed points of view," he said. "Some say he did well, others say the debt has increased."