MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Fear spread among some Mexicans on Wednesday that Donald Trump's victory meant the country would have to add a big item to its list of expenses: construction of the 35 to 55-feet-high concrete border wall proposed by the president-elect.
At least half a dozen Mexicans told BuzzFeed News during and after the election that they believed the government would not have the strength to stand up to demands from Trump. One of them, a lawyer who did not provide his name when asked, said he believed the payment would be done off-the-books to save face.
"They are going to accept. We don't have to do it but it's very sad that our politicians only care about money," said Mario Jimenez, an engineering student, adding that officials here put their own interests ahead of those of the nation.
Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu tried to quell those fears, denying that Mexico would finance the wall during a morning talk show on Wednesday. Former president Vicente Fox repeated his earlier declaration that "Of course Mexico will not pay for the fucking wall."
Some congressmen in Mexico have expressed concern over Trump's policies and Mexico's preparedness to confront their fallout. Senator Armando Rios Piter has proposed amending Mexican law to ensure that no public funds are put toward financing the wall. Even if that doesn't materialize, "It is important to make a strong, clear, firm political declaration" that relations with Mexico must be based on respect, Rios Piter told BuzzFeed News.
Mariana Gomez del Campo, one of the most outspoken senators against Trump, told BuzzFeed News that Mexico will not pay for the wall simply because it can't. "There are no funds for it. It would also be legally impossible."
But people are still reeling from President Enrique Peña Nieto's invitation to Trump to Mexico in August, which they viewed as humiliating after the then-candidate called Mexicans "rapists". After the highly-criticized meeting, Trump told reporters that they had not discussed who would pay for the wall. A Twitter spat followed, with Peña Nieto saying that he had warned Trump that Mexico would not pay and Trump assuring his supporters of the opposite.
Trump has said that he would block remittances to Mexico until the government made a one-time payment of $5-10 billion. He also said that he would increase visa fees and border crossing cards to finance the wall, which he described as "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful." (This ignores the fact that the wall he's proposed would be practically impossible to build.)
Peña Nieto on Wednesday announced that he will meet with Trump again during the transition period, saying that his win represents "a change, a challenge...and a big opportunity."
Some people decided to take the propsed wall as creative inspiration. The Mexico-based firm Estudio 3.14 designed a wall based on the work of Pritzker Prize-winning Luis Barragán, one of the country’s most renowned architects. The solid, bright pink ribbon proposed by the firm’s interns cleaves through the barren land and mountains between the two countries. It is both a prison with capacity for 11 million people and a border-long factory used to finance its construction.
“It cannot be totally discarded that something this perverse can be built,” said Norberto Miranda, the firm’s spokesperson, about whether the project was intended to be taken seriously. “Today, we are one step closer to it.”