Mexico City: President Enrique Pena Nieto's decision to meet with possibly Mexico's most-disliked man is turning into a public relations disaster for him, with social media posters and politicians calling it a national humiliation likely to lower the president's already historically low popularity ratings.
Not only did Pena Nieto not demand that Donald Trump apologise for calling Mexican migrants rapists and criminals, but he stood silently by in their joint press conference while the Republican candidate repeated his promise to build a border wall between the countries.
"This is an insult and a betrayal," said artist Arturo Meade as he joined a protest against yesterday's meeting in Mexico City. "What can this meeting bring us except surrealism in all its splendor?"
Televisa news anchor Carlos Loret de Mola marveled that Trump would dare come to Mexico and reiterate his intention to build the wall. "The humiliation is now complete," he tweeted.
Particularly irksome to Mexicans was that Pena Nieto appeared to do little to push back against Trump's earlier negative statements about Mexican migrants and unpopular proposals.
Pena Nieto "did not even take a really strong stand and talk to Mr. Trump directly to his face and tell him exactly why his stances are not acceptable to Mexicans," said Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University's Baker Institute.
"He sounded tepid and too soft. He essentially rolled over and allowed Mr. Trump to get away with his own goals without getting anything in return."
Pena Nieto did say that Mexicans felt "aggrieved" and had disagreements with Trump, but most felt that it was not enough.
Javier Urbano Reyes, a professor in the department of International Studies at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City, said he thought Trump gained a little with the meeting but Mexico's president lost a lot.
"Without a doubt, my perception is that it is going to make it even worse, even stronger the drop in approval," he said, referring to Pena Nieto's near 20-per cent approval rating, according to recent polls.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Trump was trying to boost his sagging campaign. "He fooled him (Pena Nieto)."
Pena Nieto and Trump even appeared to disagree about what was said in the meeting.
Standing next to Pena Nieto, Trump said the topic of who would pay for the wall would be discussed later. Pena Nieto, at the time, said nothing about the wall.