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Mexican Government Gives Jared Kushner Highest Honors, Angering Critics

Jared Kushner, White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law, is being honored for his "significant contributions in achieving the renegotiation of the new agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada," according to Mexico's foreign ministry.

It is the highest honor Mexico gives to foreigners — the Order of the Aztec Eagle — and this week, it will be awarded to Jared Kushner.

President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser is being honored for his "significant contributions in achieving the renegotiation of the new agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada," according to Mexico's foreign ministry. The three countries hashed out the deal over the past year to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Speaking Tuesday at an unrelated event, outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto called Kushner a "grand ally of Mexico" and an important player in maintaining a good relationship between his country and the Trump administration.

The award choice has shocked many in Mexico, however, where President Trump is not well-liked.

Trump has repeatedly made disparaging comments about Mexicans, referring to them as "rapists" during his campaign launch, and has been relentless in his calls for a border wall. Peña Nieto's handling of the U.S. president — especially inviting then-candidate Trump to Mexico's presidential residence in the summer of 2016 — has sent the Mexican leader's popularity plunging. Peña Nieto's approval rating is in the low 20s as he prepares to leave office this Saturday, according to the polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.

Criticism of the outgoing president awarding Kushner with the Order of the Aztec Eagle has been swift and harsh. Noted Mexican historian Enrique Krauze took to Twitter and called the move a "supreme act of humiliation and cowardice."

Mexican actor Gael García Bernal tweeted that bestowing the prize to Kushner denigrates the honor and is a tremendous shame.

The Order of the Aztec Eagle honors foreign dignitaries, entrepreneurs and entertainers. Past recipients include Queen Elizabeth II, Walt Disney and Bill Gates.

Peña Nieto is expected to present the award to Kushner at the Group of 20 conference this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Analyst Carlos Bravo Regidor of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City says it is a telling final act for the outgoing leader, who he says has blatantly ignored the needs and will of the Mexican people throughout his six-year term.

"It is the ultimate Peña: He is finished, defeated, humiliated, but he still doesn't care and offers this award to Kushner to almost show it off," says Bravo Regidor.

President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won a landslide victory in July, takes office on Saturday.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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