Latin America & Caribbean

Social media users find chinks of humour in Trump wall plan

US real estate tycoon turned President Donald Trump triggered a diplomatic crisis with southern neighbour and major trading partner Mexico on 25 January by signing an executive order to build a border wall even as envoys of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto were in Washington to try to negotiate.

Demanding US "respect" amid public outrage in Mexico, President Pena Nieto pulled out of a scheduled 31 January meeting with Mr Trump hours after the US president tweeted it would be "better to cancel" the encounter if Mexico did not want to pay for the wall.

Trump's insistence on Mexico footing the bill for the wall had been repeatedly and angrily rebuffed by the Mexican government.

As the diplomatic row escalated, social media users took to Twitter to comment on the unfolding crisis.

Image copyright TWITTER

Many chose to mock President Trump "the builder of walls", with one meme putting the US president's smirking face on the image of a brightly coloured box of Lego, along with the words: "Build Your Own Trump Wall".

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption Another posting had Trump's face - again fixed in a self-satisfied grin - photoshopped onto the figure of a builder measuring up a rising barrier of breeze blocks.

Most Mexican politicians and media commentators were outraged at the wall construction order, taking it as a slap in the face and an offence to Mexican pride, which had already been badly ruffled last year by the then presidential candidate's comments about "criminals and rapists" coming north across the border.

But some social media users chose to look at a brighter side of the controversial immigration issue, which was a major factor in the successful election campaign of Donald Trump. He tapped into the anger felt by many American voters about the large numbers of illegal migrants who daily slip across the southern border with Mexico.

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption One mocking Mexican meme showed a laughing mustachioed Mexican in a wide sombrero hat with the message: "I'd leave you a message on the wall … But I'd prefer to jump over it".

This was likely to increase fears in the United States that even if the massive and costly wall were built, illegal migrants from the south would still find a way to get over it.

Some Mexican critics of Trump even started a social media campaign urging their compatriots to retaliate against the construction of the wall by boycotting well-known US products and franchise chains.

They used multiple hashtags like #AdiosStarbucks (GoodbyeStarbucks), #AdiosFord and #AdiosCocaCola.

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption For coffee-lovers, they suggested patronising local Mexican brands like Cielito Querido (Beloved Sky) and Punta del Cielo (Tip of Heaven).

Some meme-makers looked to history to make their point.

One social media user superimposed an old image of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes meeting Aztec Emperor Moctezuma in 1519 over a picture of Mr Trump meeting Mexican President Pena Nieto in Mexico City in the summer of 2016.

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption The user, calling himself "Mr Sarcastic", tweeted "Trump and EPN [Enrique Pena Nieto] - despite the passage of the years the same things keep happening".

This suggested the view that Mr Trump's policy towards Mexico was just another chapter in a long history of mistreatment and exploitation of the countries in Latin America by foreign invaders and outsiders.