Mexico is calling a report from the Associated Press that alleged US President Donald Trump threatened to send the US military to Mexico to handle the “bad hombres,” if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto did not, a “downright lie.”
The report claimed that Trump told Nieto during a January 27 phone call that he “was ready to send US troops to stop ‘bad hombres down there’ unless the Mexican military does more to control them.”
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump allegedly told Nieto, according to the AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
The White House has stated that the comment was “lighthearted,” and Trump previously described the phone call as “friendly.”
Meanwhile, Mexico denies that the comments happened at all.
“I know it with absolute certainty, there was no threat. The things that have been said are nonsense and a downright lie,” Peña Nieto’s spokesman, Eduardo Sanchez, said in an interview with a Mexican radio station.
The government also released a statement on Twitter, saying that the comment “did not happen during that call.”
Mexico’s foreign relations department also weighed in, saying that the report is “based on absolute falsehoods” and “do not correspond to the reality at all.”
“The tone was constructive and it was agreed by the presidents to continue working and that the teams will continue to meet frequently to construct an agreement that is positive for Mexico and for the United States,” the department said, in a statement to AP.
Trump first used the term “bad hombres” during a debate against Hillary Clinton in October 2016.
“We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out,” Trump said, while pledging to take care of “drug lords” crossing the nation’s southern border.
The phrase sparked both backlash and cheers, with humorous viral memes, jokes, and even Halloween costumes from both sides.