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View From Mexico: Reaction To Trump's Election Victory


If you are among those shocked by Donald Trump's presidential victory last night, consider how people in Mexico must feel. NPR's Carrie Kahn is in Mexico City, in the country that has heard Trump's promise to build a wall and force Mexico to pay for it. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Good morning Steve.

INSKEEP: What are people saying there?

KAHN: Well, as it is around much of the world, it's shock. That's the word that was used in a few of the newspaper headlines, in large letters this morning - "Worldwide Uncertainty," "Trump Won, Now What?" And also, there was the peso in free fall, and that was one of the biggest shocks of the night. The peso plunged in after-hour trading by more than 13 percent of its value over the day before. And that's the biggest drop in the peso since the so-called Tequila Crisis of 1994.

The peso has recovered a bit this morning, but it is still trading at more than 20 pesos to the dollar. And that prompted Mexico's finance minister and the head of the central bank to come out this morning and speak to reporters, trying to assure markets that the Mexican economy is stable, has strong dollar reserves, they said, and a robust international lines of credit. And they did not announce any emergency monetary measures.

INSKEEP: Just so I understand, it takes 20 pesos now to get a dollar. What was it a few days ago - any idea?

KAHN: Eighteen and a half. It's been - it's been fluctuating the entire time. And it goes up and down - it had been going up and down with Donald Trump's poll numbers.

INSKEEP: So like a lot of people who do any kind of business with the United States, the value of their assets took a haircut.

KAHN: Yes.

INSKEEP: ...And the expense of their business and many other things. What about people on the streets? What do they say?

KAHN: Well, the morning TV shows have been full of commentator - commentators expressing uncertainty over whether Trump will make good on these campaign promises that we heard so much about, building the border wall, making Mexico pay for it, tearing up the free trade agreement. And I did spend much of last night and early into the morning at this Texas barbecue restaurant here in Mexico City and spoke to many Mexicans that were just depressed and in shock.

One international headhunter told me that it'll be nearly impossible, in her job, to attract talent to Mexico because of the peso being so low. I also talked to Carlos Martinez (ph). He's an international lawyer, and he says he's just depressed about the results and very nervous about what Trump will do to Mexico's economy.

CARLOS MARTINEZ: If our biggest partner is going to, like, put limitations on the trade that we have with the U.S, that's going to definitely impact our economy. So I'm actually very worried about that.

KAHN: And in the short term, his worries have been realized with that traumatic fall of the peso.

INSKEEP: Carrie, we're about to go across the border and hear how things sound from Texas. Can you give me an idea of how vital trade is across that border, how important it is, first, to Mexico?

KAHN: Well, the United States is Mexico's No. 1 trading partner. $1.5 billion, nearly one and a half billion dollars of trade every day, is done between the two countries. Mexico is the U.S.'s third-largest trading partner, after Canada and China. So it's just a complex, intricate, intertwined economy - that it'll be difficult to dismantle that relationship in any way without harming either of the economies.

INSKEEP: Including Americans', as we'll hear in a moment. Let me just ask very briefly, Mexico's president, who hosted Donald Trump during the campaign, what's he saying about all this?

KAHN: He tweeted this morning his congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump and once again stretched - stressed the friendship of the two countries that he said should continue to work together for the competitiveness and the development of North America.

INSKEEP: President Enrique Pena Nieto, who will now be dealing with President-elect - soon to be President - Trump. Carrie Kahn, thanks very much.

KAHN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.
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