One of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s closest advisers and confidants, Treasury and Public Finance Secretary (SHCP) Luis Videgaray, has resigned, in a move observers said was linked to the unpopular decision to invite Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to visit Mexico.
While Peña Nieto has taken responsibility for the decision to invite Trump, a former official familiar with the workings of the administration said Videgaray would have had a definitive input into the decision. Newspaper columnists in Mexico have reported Videgaray was behind last week’s visit, in which Peña Nieto was criticized for not being forceful enough in rejecting Trump’s proposals and comments about Mexico.
Videgaray acted as Peña Nieto’s campaign manager during his 2012 election campaign, and has been seen as the architect of many of the administration’s policies. He led Mexico’s SHCP, but because he oversaw budgets and fiscal policies, his role was closer to that of a finance secretary.
Peña Nieto thanked Videgaray for leading financial reforms at a ceremony at which the president announced that he was accepting the resignation, but did not announce any new post for Videgaray.
“He has been an official very committed to Mexico, and very loyal to the president,” Peña Nieto said.
Former SHCP head José Antonio Meade Kuribreña — who had since served as Foreign Relations secretary (SRE) and Social Development secretary (Sedesol) — will return to the SHCP to replace Videgaray. Luis Enrique Miranda Nava will take over Sedesol.
Peña Nieto said Meade Kuribreña will be in charge of turning in a primary budget surplus for next year, meaning government spending will have to be less than revenues, not including interest payments on debt.
Peña Nieto was also ridiculed for not confronting Trump more directly the visit about comments calling migrants from Mexico criminals, drug-runners and “rapists,” and the U.S. candidate’s vows to build a border wall and force Mexico to pay for it.
The wall proposal has been criticized widely and fiercely in Mexico.