Mexicans celebrating an Easter ritual over the weekend burned effigies of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant views have sparked outrage south of the American border.

In Mexico City's poor La Merced neighborhood, hundreds of cheering residents yelled "death" and various insults as they watched the explosion of the grinning papier-mâché mock-up of the business  tycoon, replete with blue blazer, red tie and his trademark sweep of hair.

Media reports noted that Trump effigies burned in several places across Mexico, from Puebla to Mexico's industrial hub, Monterrey.

The burning is part of a widespread Mexican Holy Week tradition where neighborhoods burn effigies to represent Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ, according to the Bible. The effigies are often modeled on unpopular political figures.

Mexicans Burn Trum Effigy 20160327 In a 2016 take on a traditional Easter burning ritual, an effigy of U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is burned in Mexico City's poor La Merced neighborhood, March 26, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero

"Since he started his campaign and began talking about immigrants, Mexico, and Mexicans, I said, 'I've got to get this guy,'" said Felipe Linares, the artisan who crafted the Trump figure and whose family has been making Judases for more than 50 years.

Trump, the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, has drawn fire in Mexico with his campaign vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for it.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said his country will not pay for the wall and likened Trump's "strident tone" to that of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Trump, whose proposals have also caused great concern among many in his own party, has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug runners across the border and vowed to increase fees on some Mexican visas and all border-crossing cards to help make Mexico pay for the wall.

Judas effigies are burned in villages and towns in several Latin American countries such as Venezuela and in parts of Greece. Anthropologists say the practice serves a symbolic function to overcome divisions and unite communities around a common enemy.

Linares has also done mock-ups of corrupt former union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and President Peña Nieto, whose popularity has been hit by conflict-of-interest scandals and the disappearance of 43 students at the hands of corrupt police in 2014.