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Mexico Senator: Stop Collaborating With U.S., Buying Its Corn

by Suzanne Gamboa /
View of the border line between Mexico and the U.S in the community of Sasabe in Sonora state, Mexico, on Jan. 13, 2017.Alfredo Estrella / AFP - Getty Images

A Mexico senator has suggested his country cut back on collaboration with the U.S. on fighting terrorism and stop buying American corn in retaliation for a border tax President Donald Trump floated this week.

Mexico Sen. Armando Ríos Piter told MSNBC he was on his way to an emergency meeting with Mexican lawmakers to discuss the rift that opened up this week between the neighboring countries. Already tense relations escalated over Trump's continued insistence that Mexico pay for a wall on the border and his declaration that he'd levy a border tax to finance the project.

"We should stop collaborating with the United States, with this hostile administration specifically, regarding security issues, regarding anti-terrorism that we've been working together (on) for the last years," Pitter said.

"I think we will retaliate in the states of the Corn Belt. I think we should start thinking of not buying any more corn to those states," he said.

Mexico is the United States' third largest trading partner and works with America on issues like immigration, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, the environment, health and national security.

Mexican President Peña Nieto was scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday, but the meeting was canceled as Trump continued to insist that Mexico pay for a border wall, along with suggestions of a 20 percent border tax. His White House press secretary later said the tax was one of many options being considered.

Many tariffs on U.S. goods exported into Mexico and vice versa are waived because of their cooperation through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mexico levied retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, as NAFTA allows, in a previous trade dispute with the U.S. In 2009, the U.S. closed its border to trucks from Mexico. In response, Mexico imposed $2.4 billion in tariffs on a number products such as apples, strawberries, potatoes and other goods.

Alfonso Villalva, a corporate attorney, told MSNBC that Mexicans are looking for Nieto to "speak for dignity and sovereignty," while simultaneously being "clever" because so much is at stake — business, economics, social and humanitarian issues, families.

"People from Mexico want a true leader. They want to take a stand and speak very loudly. A lot of people are feeling offended for the attitude of Mr. Trump," Villalva said.

Later Friday, Mexico's former Foreign Affairs Secretary Jorge Castañeda Gutman warned in an interview on Meet The Press Daily that Trump "is playing with fire."

"Mexican national sentiment against an American bully is a very easy thing to awaken. A lot of us have worked hard over the last 25 years ... to leave our Mexican resentments in the past ... If Trump wants to really awaken this again, it's right there to be awakened," said Castañeda, now a New York University professor.

Asked to list retaliatory measures to Trump's plans that he would recommend if he were still foreign minister, Castañeda said he'd recommend to first cease communications between American security, military and Drug Enforcement Administration personnel and their Mexican counterparts.

If that didn't work, he said he'd force about 50 U.S. DEA agents in Mexico to leave and if that didn't work, he'd look at Mexico has been doing since 2014 to reduce the flow of across Mexico's southern border of Central Americans trying to get to the U.S.

"Frankly, I don't see any reason why we should continue to do that. If kids in Central America want to seek asylum in the U.S., let them do so," Castañeda said.

He warned that Trump is risking "awakening instability in Mexico."

This story includes reporting by MSNBC's Mariana Atencio.

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