Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto
Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto. Fotografía oficial.jpg
Official portrait of President Peña Nieto
57th President of Mexico
Assumed office
1 December 2012
Preceded by Felipe Calderón
Governor of the State of Mexico
In office
16 September 2005 – 16 September 2011
Preceded by Arturo Montiel Rojas
Succeeded by Eruviel Ávila Villegas
Personal details
Born (1966-07-20) 20 July 1966 (age 51)
Atlacomulco, State of Mexico, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Political party Institutional Revolutionary
Children 5
Residence Los Pinos
Alma mater Panamerican University

Enrique Peña Nieto (Spanish pronunciation: [enˈrike ˈpeɲa ˈnjeto] (About this sound listen); born 20 July 1966),[1] sometimes referred to by his initials EPN,[2] is a Mexican politician serving as the 57th and current President of Mexico. Educated as a lawyer, Peña Nieto previously served in the State of Mexico as Secretary of Administration (2000–2002), Representative of the 13th District of the State (2003–2004), and Governor (2005–2011).[1][3]

On 1 July 2012, he was elected President by winning 39% of the vote towards his political party: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), in alliance with the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM).[4] The PRI had governed Mexico uninterrupted for 71 years until it was defeated by the National Action Party (PAN) in 2000 (Vicente Fox) and 2006 (Felipe Calderón).[5][6] On 1 December 2012, after the 12-year hiatus, the PRI returned to the Mexican presidency as Peña Nieto started his rule as President.[7][8] Protests against the election of Peña Nieto drew tens of thousands of people across Mexico, particularly from the Yo Soy 132 student movement, who protested alleged voting irregularities and media bias.[9][10] National and international award-winning Mexican reporter Carmen Aristegui detailed in 2016 how the Juárez Cartel used a series of shell corporations to fund Peña Nieto's campaign, and Peña Nieto then allowed the criminals to use government programs to launder money, and gave a previously-arrested cartel mafioso the directorship of a new government program ostensibly to help the poor, but in fact aided the Juarez Cartel.[11]

Peña Nieto began his term as President with an approval rating of approximately 50%, but the falling value of the Mexican peso and sluggish economic growth had caused this figure to drop to 35% by 2015. Prone to gaffes, Peña Nieto has also faced several major controversies as President, including the escape of famed drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán from Altiplano prison in 2015, and accusations that he had plagiarized his law school thesis. He has also faced criticism for his handling of the abduction and murder of 43 teachers' college students in the State of Guerrero in 2014. Another crisis emerged on 1 January 2017, due to a series of protests against a 20% hike in gasoline prices by the federal government of Mexico, known as Gasolinazo. According to the Newspaper Reforma, by August 2016, Peña Nieto's approval ratings had dropped to 23% – the lowest for any Mexican President since the paper began opinion polls in 1995 and has been referred by The New York Times as a lame duck.[12][13] His approval decreased to 12% by 19 January 2017.[14]

Early life[]

Enrique Peña Nieto was born on 20 July 1966 in Atlacomulco, State of Mexico, a city 55 miles (89 km) northwest of Mexico City.[15] He is the oldest of four siblings; his father, Gilberto Enrique Peña del Mazo, was an electrical engineer; his mother, María del Perpetuo Socorro Ofelia Nieto Sánchez, a schoolteacher.[15] He is the nephew of two former governors of the State of México: on his mother's side, Arturo Montiel (whom business magazine Forbes listed in 2013, as one of the ten most corrupt Mexican politicians); on his father's, Alfredo del Mazo González.[16][17][18] He attended Denis Hall School in Alfred, Maine, during one year of junior high school in 1979 to learn English.[15] After living in Atlacomulco for the first 11 years of his life, Peña Nieto's family moved to the city of Toluca.[19]

In 1975, his father would often take him to the campaign rallies of the State of Mexico's governor, Jorge Jiménez Cantú, a close friend of Peña del Mazo The successor of the governor was Alfredo del Mazo González, a cousin of Peña Nieto's father. During Del Mazo González's campaign in 1981, the fifteen-year-old Peña Nieto had his first direct contact with Mexican politics: he began delivering campaign literature in favor of his relative, a memory Peña Nieto recalls as the turning point and start of his deep interest in politics. In 1984 at the age of 18, Peña Nieto traveled to Mexico City and enrolled in the Panamerican University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Law.[20]

Peña Nieto can speak English,[21] however, he speaks Spanish in formal settings.[22]

Political beginnings[]

Peña Nieto joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 1984, and with a law degree nearly completed, he began earning his own money.[23] During his final years in college, Peña Nieto worked for a public notary in Mexico City, around the same time when his relative, Alfredo del Mazo González, was mentioned as a firm candidate for the 1988 presidential elections.[23] In his twenties, he worked at the San Luis Industrial Corporation, an auto parts manufacturer, and at the law firm Laffan, Muse and Kaye. While still a student at the Universidad Panamericana, he roomed with Eustaquio de Nicolás, the current president of Homex, a leading Mexican construction and real estate company. He also befriended and roomed with Luis Miranda, who occupied several offices during the 1999–2000 administration in the State of Mexico.[23]

University plagiarism and masters degree[]

Peña Nieto's academic thesis entitled El presidencialismo mexicano y Álvaro Obregón (translated in English as "Mexican Presidentialism and Álvaro Obregón") expounds upon the comparison between the Mexican presidential system to that of parliamentarism.[24] The 202-page document argued that the administration of Benito Juárez was a "presidential dictatorship", since he had a powerful executive force during the Reform War, which allowed him to have absolute political power.[24] Peña Nieto interviewed several authors, including Jorge Carpizo, Héctor Fix-Zamudio, Enrique Krauze and Justo Sierra, and listed at least forty books in his bibliography.[24] His work was dedicated to Arturo Montiel Rojas, the former governor of the State of Mexico and relative of Peña Nieto.[24] Decades after, a news report by Carmen Aristegui of Aristegui Noticias (Aristegui News), which was broadcast on 21 August 2016, revealed that Enrique plagiarized 197 of the 682 paragraphs within his University Thesis, which translates to at least 28.8% of the content, from 10 different authors.[25][26]

Peña Nieto sought a master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM),[27][28] based in the State of Mexico.

Formal start of political career[]

Peña Nieto formally started his political career under the mentorship of Montiel Rojas, becoming the Secretary of the Citizen Movement of Zone I of the State Directive Committee of the National Confederation of Popular Organizations (CNOP), one of the three sectors of the PRI. For three consecutive years, Peña Nieto participated as a delegate to the Organization and Citizen Front in different municipalities of the State of Mexico. Then, between 1993 and 1998, during Emilio Chuayfett's term as governor, Peña Nieto was chief of staff and personal secretary to Montiel Rojas, the Secretary of Economic Development of the State of Mexico.[23]

After 1999, Peña Nieto went from having low-level secretary positions to higher and more qualified offices.[29] He served from 1999 to 2000 as the Sub-secretary of Government,[30] and as financial sub-coordinator of the political campaign of Montiel Rojas.[23] In 2001, Montiel Rojas named Peña Nieto Sub-secretary of Interior in the State of Mexico, a position that granted him the opportunity to meet and forge relationships with top PRI politicians and wealthy businessmen. After his term concluded, he served as the administrative secretary, as president of the Directive Council of Social Security, as president of the Internal Council of Health, and as vice president of the National System for Integral Family Development – all in the State of Mexico.[29] Under the wing of Montiel Rojas, Peña Nieto formed a group known as the "Golden Boys of Atlacomulco" with other members of the PRI.[31]

Legislative career[]

State deputy and campaign for Governor, 2003–2005[]

Peña Nieto was elected to a local deputy position in his hometown of Atlacomulco, State of Mexico, in 2003.[32][33] Two years later, the governorship of the State of Mexico was sought by Atlacomulco-natives Carlos Hank Rhon, Isidro Pastor, Héctor Luna de la Vega, Guillermo González Martínez, Óscar Gustavo Cárdenas Monroy, Eduardo Bernal Martínez, Cuauhtémoc García Ortega and Fernando Alberto García Cuevas.[33] Peña Nieto was among the crowd, but was not poised as one of the favorites.[33] Nonetheless, in 2005, Peña Nieto was the last man standing, succeeding Montiel Rojas as governor of the State of Mexico.[34] On 12 February 2005, with 15,000 supporters in attendance, he was sworn-in as candidate for the PRI.[35]

Governor of the State of Mexico, 2005–2011[]

608 commitments[]

Peña Nieto as Governor of the State of Mexico in 2006.

On 15 September 2005, Peña Nieto was sworn as governor of the State of Mexico at the Morelos theater in Toluca. Among the hundreds of attendees were the outgoing governor, Arturo Montiel; the president of the Superior Court of Justice, José Castillo Ambriz; former governors, members of Peña Nieto's cabinet and party, mayors, businessmen, and church figures.[36] The centerpiece of Peña Nieto's governorship was his claim that he was to deliver his compromisos – 608 promises he signed in front of a notary to convince voters that he would deliver results and be an effective leader.[37] According to El Universal, during Peña Nieto's first year as governor, his administration only delivered 10 of the structural promises he had advocated in his campaign – marking the lowest figure in his six-year term.[38]

By 2006, his administration carried out 141 of the promised projects, making that year the most active in the governor's term. The 608 projects Peña Nieto proposed consisted of creating highways, building hospitals, and creating adequate water systems to provide fresh water throughout the state. The most important of these was highway infrastructure, which tripled under Peña's government. By mid-2011, the official page of the State of Mexico noted that only two projects were left.[38] The major projects in public transportation were the Suburban Railway of the Valley of Mexico Metropolitan Area and the "Mexibús", both of which served commuters between Mexico City and the State of Mexico, providing service to more than 300,000 people every day and 100 million a year. Regarding public health services, 196 hospitals and medical centers were built throughout the state and the number of mobile units to attend remote and vulnerable areas doubled.[39] Deaths caused by respiratory diseases were reduced by 55%, while deaths caused by dysentery and cervical cancer were reduced by 68% and 25% respectively. In addition, between 2005 and 2011, the State of Mexico was able to fulfill the requirement of the World Health Organization of having one doctor for every 1,000 inhabitants. The funds for these and all the other commitments were obtained through restructuring the state's public debt, a strategy designed by his first Secretary of Finance, Luis Videgaray Caso. The restructuring also managed to keep the debt from increasing during Peña Nieto's term because the tax base was broadened to the point that it doubled in six years.[39]

During the course of the 2012 presidential campaign, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) questioned the completion of at least 100 of the commitments of Peña Nieto. The PAN also warned the PRI that they were going to examine each of the 608 commitments and release the information to the public, publicizing the cost of the projects and the supposed locations where the projects took place. The PRI responded to the accusations by stating that the PAN politicians "were the liars."[40] The PRI presented a web page with the description of each commitment and when and where it was achieved; the webpage included pictures, a detailed description, a notary certification, and the number of people that benefited from the project. The party then claimed that Peña Nieto's adversaries, particularly PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota, were carrying out a "dirty war" against him.[41] The PAN concluded by claiming that the current administration was allegedly "repairing" the unfinished projects of Peña Nieto's administration,[42] while the PRI insisted that its opposition was pointing-out projects that were not in the 608 commitments.[43]

Peña Nieto also claimed that he halved the murder rate in the State of Mexico during his time as governor,[44] but retracted this claim after The Economist showed that the murder rate did not diminish and was being measured in a different way.[45]

Yo Soy 132 protest[]

Yo Soy 132 protest in Mexico City on May 19, 2012

The Yo Soy 132 student movement criticized Peña Nieto for his stance on the San Salvador Atenco unrest, which occurred during his term as governor.[46] Peña Nieto stated in an interview that he does not justify the actions of the state and municipal forces, but also mentioned that they were not gladly received by the citizens of San Salvador Atenco upon their arrival. He condemned the abuses and promised to fully execute the law and bring transparency to the investigations. He lamented the deaths caused by the unrest, but emphasized that risks often occur in security operations. Peña Nieto concluded by assuming responsibility of the event and insisted that "yellow journalism" has also obscured what actually happened.[47]> Infuriated by the response, students of Yo Soy 132 booed the politician and protested against him, calling him a "murderer".[46][48] Yo Soy 132 shook-up the 2012 presidential campaign, but it did not have a major impact on the opinion polls in favor of Peña Nieto.[49]

The Women of Atenco[]

In 2016, The New York Times reported that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was standing up for several women who alleged to have been raped by soldiers during the Atenco incident. It reported that the women had been silenced for a decade, some jailed for about a year while others received death threats. 11 women have shown their faces, while several others have anonymously given testimony to the commission.[50] The case investigates then-Governor Enrique Peña Nieto for hiding the incident from the public, and for pardoning the soldiers involved.[51]

2011–12 presidential campaign[]

Peña Nieto at the World Economic Forum (2010)

On 23 November 2011, Peña Nieto went to a book fair in Casa del Lago, Mexico City. There he presented his book México, la gran esperanza (Mexico, the great hope). He was accompanied by writer Héctor Aguilar Camín, the former governor of Mexico's Central Bank, Guillermo Ortiz Martínez, and the journalist Jaime Sánchez Susarrey. The book by EPN argued that Mexico needed to expand its economy to create more jobs, insisting that in the past the country has only created jobs in the informal sector.[52] And also argued that promoting Pemex (Mexico's state-owned oil company) to compete in the private sector would create more jobs, elevate productivity, and balance wealth distribution across Mexico. Aguilar Camín, however, questioned Peña Nieto's ideals, and asked him how it was possible for him to speak of transparency when the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was allegedly entangled in economic debts and controversial money transactions. Nonetheless, Peña Nieto dedicated the book to his wife Angélica Rivera and to governor Eruviel Ávila Villegas and his family.[52] Peña Nieto said that the return of the PRI marks a new era in Mexico, and that his book served as a starting point to take Mexico "to better horizons."[53] (Those horizons however would not turn to be better, as many years later as of 2017, it would turn out, that many of the members of the PRI political party who supported EPN during his presidential campaign, some who campaigned themselves for state governors and won elections and became state governors within the Mexican government, would be latter declared criminals by the Mexican government,[54][55][56] among those are: Tomas Yarrington from Tamaulipas (along his predecessor Eugenio Hernandez Flores), Javier Duarte from Veracruz,[57] César Duarte Jáquez from Chihuahua[58] (no family relation between both Duarte), and Roberto Borge from Quintana Roo, along their unknown multiple allies who enabled their corruption, which while, although EPN has not been found to be an ally of them, by being part of the same political party have severely impacted negatively on EPN's image as president.[59]).

On 27 November 2011, a few days after the book fair, Peña Nieto was the PRI's last standing nominee for the 2012 Mexican presidential elections. The former State of Mexico governor completed his nomination at an event that gathered sympathizers and politicians.[60] Six days earlier, the senator and preliminary candidate of the PRI, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, withdrew from the race and gave Peña Nieto a clear path towards the presidency.[61] During a book fair a month later, Peña Nieto's public image "took a lot of hits" after he struggled to answer a question that asked which three books had marked his life. When he was criticized by Mexico's intellectuals, his daughter worsened the situation by posting a defamatory message on Twitter, stating that the criticisms were driven by class envy. Later, Peña Nieto was interviewed by El País and admitted that he did not know the price of tortillas. When he was criticized as being out of touch, Peña Nieto insisted that he was not "the woman of the household" and thus would not know the price. In another interview, he admitted to have cheated on his past wife with another woman and fathered two children out of wedlock.[62]


On 1 July 2012, Mexico's presidential election took place. In an initial, partial count issued that night, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) announced that based on a fast vote counting, Peña Nieto was leading the election with 38% of the votes.[63] His nearest competitor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was just 6 points behind him. The figures were meant to be a representative sample of the votes nationwide; but shortly after this announcement, Peña Nieto appeared on national television claiming victory. "This Sunday, Mexico won," he said. He then thanked his voters and promised to run a government "responsible and open to criticism." At the PRI headquarters in Mexico City, the victory party began.[63] With more than 97% of the votes counted on election day, the PRI had won with about 38% of the votes, just 6.4 points above the leftist candidate López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who refused to concede to the results and had threatened to challenge the outcome.[64][65]

Soriana pre-paid gift card vote buyout controversy[]

At a news conference, Obrador stated that the election was "plagued with irregularities" and accused the PRI of buying votes.[64] He also claims that the PRI handed out gifts to influence voters in their favor.[66] Soriana is a Wal-Mart-style chain of megastores, operating 500 grocery stores around Mexico. During the day of the elections, people who voted for PRI would receive pre-paid gift cards. Nonetheless, the PRI and the store denied the accusation[67] and threatened to sue López Obrador.[66] Peña Nieto vowed to imprison anyone – including members of the PRI – if they are found guilty of electoral fraud.[68] Despite Peña Nieto's statement, many videos by citizens about the Soriana cards surfaced on YouTube.[69][70]

Election results[]

Candidate Party Votes %
Enrique Peña Nieto Institutional Revolutionary Party 18,727,398 38.15[71]
Andrés Manuel López Obrador Party of the Democratic Revolution 15,535,117 31.64
Josefina Vázquez Mota National Action Party 12,473,106 25.40
Gabriel Quadri de la Torre New Alliance Party 1,129,108 2.36
Non-registered candidates 31,660 0.07
Invalid/blank votes 1,191,057
Total 49,087,446 100
Registered voters/turnout 77,738,494 63.1
Source: PREP (98.95% of polling stations reporting)

After ruling Mexico for most of the past century, the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) brought hope to the supporters and fear to those remembering the old PRI tactics of making deals with the cartels in exchange for relative peace.[72] According to an article published by The Economist on 23 June 2012, part of the reason why Peña Nieto and the PRI won lies in the disappointment of the rule of the National Action Party (PAN).[73] Buffeted by China's economic growth and the economic recession in the United States, the annual growth of Mexico's economy between 2000 and 2012 was of 1.8%. Poverty worsened, and without a ruling majority in Congress, the PAN presidents were unable to pass structural reforms, leaving monopolies and Mexico's educational system unchanged. In 2006, Felipe Calderón chose to make the battle against organized crime the centerpiece of his presidency. Nonetheless, with over 60,000 dead, many Mexican citizens are tired of a fight they had first supported.[73]

According to The Guardian, Peña Nieto's "young, telegenic and impeccably smooth" image has helped gloss over the PRI's reputation of corruption and authoritarianism. Such views are rare in Mexico City, where the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) holds strong support. Throughout the political campaigns, Peña Nieto poised to steer his party back into power and was, according to the polls, the favorite to win the elections. Some of his adversaries, however, said that the "polls were manipulated" and that the PRI was taking advantage of the poor to gain votes, instead of relying on informed voters. Allegations of vote-buying for Peña Nieto were widespread, but the PRI responded by claiming that its rivals were merely questioning the legitimacy of their victory.[49]

On 9 July 2012, the Los Angeles Times described Peña Nieto as a "man of mystery" whose real convictions – as perceived in the eyes of many Mexicans – remained in doubt.[31] To some, the PRI politician is simply a creation of the party's cabal and of Mexico's omnipresent television network, Televisa. His cipher-like aspect, along with his steady rise to the presidency, reinforced that opinion.[31] Yet, other observers note that Peña Nieto was smart enough "to know what he doesn't know" and surround himself with intelligent and well-educated politicians.[31] Other media outlets like CBS News stated at the time, that Peña Nieto is the "new face of the old guard,"[74] while several American officials fear that his security strategy may mean returning to the old PRI tactics of "corruption [and] backroom deals" with the cartels.[75]

The Economist at the time alleged that these signs were "not as bad as they look," since Mexico is more democratic, it enjoys a competitive export market, has a well-run economy despite the crisis, and there are tentative signs that the violence in the country may be plummeting. But if voters want the PRI back, it is because "the alternatives [were] weak." The newspaper also alleges that Mexico's preferences should have gone left-wing, but the candidate that represented that movement – Andrés Manuel López Obrador – was seen with "disgraceful behavior." The conservative candidate, Josefina Vázquez Mota, was deemed worthy, but was considered by The Economist to have carried out a "shambolic campaign." Thus, Peña Nieto wins by default and was considered by the newspaper as the "least bad choice" for reform in Mexico.[73]

Presidency, 2012–present[]

Presidential styles of
Enrique Peña Nieto
Coat of arms of Mexico.svg
Reference style Señor Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
"Mr. President of the United Mexican States"
Spoken style
  • Presidente de la República
    "President of the Republic"
  • Presidente de Mexico
    "President of Mexico"
Alternative style Señor Presidente
"Mr. President"

Peña Nieto was sworn-in as President of Mexico on 1 December 2012 at the federal congress and later flew to a military parade to formally take control of the armed forces. During his inauguration speech at the National Palace, Peña Nieto proposed his agendas and reforms for the new administration. Before and after the inauguration, protesters rioted outside of the National Palace and clashed with Federal Police forces, vandalizing hotel structures and setting fires in downtown Mexico City. More than 90 protesters were arrested and several were injured. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard blamed anarchist groups for the violence.[76][77] However, there is evidence that agents of provocation worked with the police, paid 300 Mexican pesos (about US$20) for their acts of vandalism, according to media reports.[78] Photos show the vandals waiting in groups behind police lines prior to the violence.[79] Previous protests had been entirely peaceful, but on this occasion, in apparent response to violence, the police fired rubber bullets.[80] In contrast to the protests, there were no public celebrations of the new presidency.[81][82] The day after his inauguration, Peña Nieto announced the Pact for Mexico, an agreement that he had struck with the leaders of two other major parties[which?] about the government's goals for the next few years.[83]

Economic policy[]

Peña Nieto and Takanobu Ito at the inauguration of the Honda plant in Celaya, Guanajuato on 21 February 2014.

The auto manufacturing industry expanded rapidly under Nieto's presidency. In 2014, more than US$10 billion was committed in investment in the sector. In conjunction with Kia Motors in August 2014, the president announced plans for Kia to build a US$1 billion factory in Nuevo León. At the time, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan were already building a US$1.4 billion plant near Puebla, while BMW was planning a US$1 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosí. Audi began building a US$1.3 billion factory near Puebla in 2013.[84] As of December 2014, two years into Peña Nieto's term, total investment in the auto sector in Mexico had reached US$19 billion.[85] The Bajío Region has received the majority of this investment, and with its rapidly expanding aerospace industry has become the fastest-growing region in the country.[86]

According to the Mexican Social Security Institute, between December 2012 and June 2016, more than two million jobs were created in Mexico. Of those jobs, 41% were taken by women and 36% were taken by individuals between 20 and 34 years of age. IMSS also revealed that 86% were long-term jobs and 14% were temporary. These jobs have led to a 26% increase in revenue accumulation for IMSS, an additional MXN$50 billion. More than half a million jobs had salaries worth five minimum wages (about MXN$10,000 per month) and there was a 22% increase in jobs with salaries greater than 20 minimum wages.[87]

Special economic zones[]

At the end of May 2016, Peña Nieto signed a law that will create special economic zones in economically underdeveloped southern states. The first three are: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán; Port Chiapas, Chiapas; and in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to better join the ports of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz and Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. Another zone in the petroleum region of Tabasco and Campeche, hit by the downturn in the oil industry, is planned for 2017.[88]

The special economic zones are meant to alleviate the lack of industry in the South. During the signing, Peña Nieto highlighted the difference between the South and the industrial North and Center of Mexico: two of every three people in extreme poverty in Mexico live in the southern states. While the three poorest states (Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero) have about 10% of the population, they only receive $1 of every $36 in foreign direct investment in the country. He went on to say that there are two Mexicos; one "that competes and wins in the global economy, with growing levels of income, development and well-being", while the other Mexico "has been left behind [and] hasn't been able to take advantage of its potential."[88]

The special economic zones will offer tax incentives (exemption from the 16% VAT),[89] trade and customs benefits and the streamlining of regulatory processes.[88] There will also be an increase in infrastructure spending in these regions. Private administrators will run the zones on 40-year contracts (managing infrastructure and attracting tenants).[89] According to Peña Nieto, at the latest, each of these zones will have an anchor tenant that will attract suppliers and other industries in the supply chain by 2018. The World Bank advised Mexico during the formulation of the special economic zones plan.[88]

Security policy[]

President Enrique Peña Nieto and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu visit the monument to the 201st Fighter Squadron in Manila, November 2015.

While campaigning, Peña Nieto appointed a former general of the National Police of Colombia as his external advisor for public security, and boldly promised to reduce the murder rate in Mexico by 50% by the end of his six-year term.[90][91] Critics of Peña Nieto's security strategy, however, said that he offered "little sense" in exactly how he will reduce the violence.[92][90] During the three-month campaign, Peña Nieto was not explicit on his anti-crime strategy, and many analysts wondered whether he was holding back politically sensitive details or simply did not know how he would attempt to squelch the violence and carry out the next stage in Mexico's drug war.[90] United States officials were worried that the election of Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party may mean a return to the old PRI tactics of "corruption [and] backroom deals" with the cartels in exchange for bribes and relative peace.[75][93][94]

In 2012, the president-elect emphasized that he did not support the involvement or presence of armed United States agents in Mexico, but considered allowing the United States to instruct Mexico's military training in counterinsurgency tactics. Beyond that, Peña Nieto promised that no other measures will be taken by the United States in Mexico.[95]

The security policy of Peña Nieto has prioritized the reduction of violence rather than attacking Mexico's drug-trafficking organizations head-on, marking a departure from the strategy of the previous six years during Felipe Calderón's administration. One of the biggest contrasts is the focus on lowering murder rates, kidnappings, and extortions, as opposed to arresting or killing the country's most-wanted drug lords and intercepting their drug shipments.[92] The government of Calderón justified its position by stating that the violence in the country was a necessary stage in Mexico's drug war, as weakening criminal groups fought for territorial control against one another and the government.

On 13 December 2012, a law was approved that included far-reaching security reforms. Mexico's Interior Ministry, greatly strengthened by the bill, was made solely responsible for public security. Part of Peña Nieto's strategy consists of the creation of a national police of 40,000 members, known as a "gendarmerie". The Economist reported that the gendarmerie would have an initial strength of 10,000, but the Washington Office on Latin America reported that it was reduced to 5,000 members and would not be operational until July 2014.[96] The Interior Ministry announced that 15 specialized police units were being formed to exclusively focus on major crimes that include kidnapping and extortion, along with a new task force dedicated to tracking missing persons.[97] Peña Nieto also proposed centralizing the sub-federal police forces under one command.[92]

Accusations of the Internal Security Law violating Human rights[]

In November 2017, Aristegui Noticias reported that "the PRI and their allies were seeking to aprove the "Ley de Seguridad Interior (Law of Internal Security)". Whom the Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) had previously said, that it violated Human Rights, because it favors the discretional usage of the army forces. Endangering citizens by giving a blank check to the army" and the president, to order an attack towards any group of people they consider a danger without requiring an explanation. This could include people such as social activists.[98][99] Enrique Peña Nieto signed off the law in approval, while CNDH decided to demand the Mexican government until the law fits a criteria that does not violate human rights.[100][101][102]

Energy policy[]

During the presidential campaign, Peña Nieto promised to open Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company, to the private sector. He also indicated interest in an economic agreement with Petrobras, Brazil's oil company.[103] By giving more economic freedom to Pemex, investors say Peña Nieto's proposal could allow joint ventures and private investment in the oil company.[104]

According to the Financial Times in 2012, Peña Nieto's PRI government, which held just over 38% of the votes in Congress, might have difficulty gaining a majority to pass such reforms, or the two-thirds majority needed to change the Mexican constitution.[104] Pemex was founded through the nationalization of foreign oil interests, and the Mexican constitution bans major outside investments.[105] Changing Pemex could transform the psychology of Mexico's business sector and involve cultural and political changes that cannot be rushed.[104][105] President Lázaro Cárdenas seized foreign oil company assets in 1938 to form Pemex, which has served as a symbol of national identity.[106]

Mexican state social investment depends to a great extent on the profits from oil exports controlled by Pemex as a state monopoly. The leftist political movement National Regeneration Movement has expressed concern that Pemex will be systematically excluded as a commercial competitor by the government. They believe that Pemex's infrastructural decline was due to a deliberate strategy of self-sabotage by the government through lack of reinvestment, and fear that the Mexican oil rent may be taken over by private corporations. The leftist opposition is concerned that energy reform may be a concealed maneuver for privatization. They also worry that laws derived from the constitutional reforms are not explicit in demonstrating that energy reform will avoid having the oil rent be controlled by the private sector. There are questions as to how the Mexican system of public health, education and subsidized transportation (not to mention the newly created presidential fund for retirement and unemployment) would be funded if there is privatization of the oil rent.[107]

NAFTA leaders U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 2014

Eric Martin of Bloomberg News stated that if Peña Nieto wants to invite investment, he will have to face the challenges of union leaders and local officials who have benefited from the oil company's bonanza.[105] Productivity in Pemex has been declining since 2004.[106] Mexico has the 12th-largest oil reserves in the world, the 4th-largest shale gas deposits in the world (after Argentina, China, and the United States), and is the third-biggest supplier of oil to the U.S., just behind Canada and Saudi Arabia.[108] Brazil's 21st-century oil success has shifted popular opinion to support of structural changes in Pemex. Peña Nieto declared while campaigning that overhauling Pemex will be the PRI's and his "signature issue", and that he will encourage private companies to invest in exploration and development activities.[105]

In 2014, Peña Nieto announced an end to Pemex's monopoly, inviting in both large and small private companies to the oil and gas industry. He said that in early 2015, more than 100 blocks would be auctioned for development. The government believes that changing technology will allow additional drilling in mature fields, such as those near Tampico, as well as larger fields likely offshore. This decision has received international coverage.[citation needed]

Odebrecht corruption investigation of EPN[]

Odebrecht is a Brazilian conglomerate that like Pemex also operates in the field of petroleum. Back in 2010-2012, Emilio Lozoya Austin was part of the PRI's team supporting EPN during his presidential campaign. After EPN won the elections, Lozoya was promoted to director of Pemex, a role he served for most of EPN's presidency. In 2017, Brazilian news paper O Globo claimed that Odebrecht helped finance EPN's presidential campaign, by giving $10 million to Emilio Lozoya as a bribe during times close to the 2012 elections. Soon after EPN won the elections in 2012, Lozoya was placed as director of Pemex, and Odebrecht "won" huge contracts from Pemex and the Mexican government. The surfacing of the news involving the controversy surfaced in 2017,[109] further revealing Lozoya bought a $38 million house with a single payment before even being declared director of Pemex, affording such house did not fit with his salary at the time.[110] In October 2017, it was confirmed by the presidency that in fact EPN himself, also met with Odebrecht 4 times during his presidential campaign. Thus directly tying EPN into the scandal, albeit EPN claimed not to receive bribes, EPN lacks credibility among Mexican people.[111][112] A document from Brazil reported Lozoya received $5 million in November, 2014.[113] Santiago Nieto, the man in charge of the FEPADE (an office in charge of investigations against electoral crimes), was controversially fired, soon after the Odebretch scandal started. Santiago was said to be receiving too much pressure from EPN and Lozoya to stop the investigation.[114] The firing was criticized by ex-president Felipe Calderon's wife and independent 2018 presidential candidate Margarita Zavala.[115] President EPN said Santiago's restitution fate was on the Mexican Senate.[116] The organization Borde Politico, had published weeks before that 116 out of the 128 Mexican senators were incompetent.[117]

Foreign policy[]

Peña Nieto at the Élysée Palace with French President Emmanuel Macron, 2017

2016 visit by Donald Trump[]

Peña Nieto meets with Donald Trump at the G20 Hamburg summit, July 2017

Peña Nieto invited U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to visit on 31 August 2016, and appeared with him in a press conference. Peña Nieto was criticized for extending the invitation to Trump,[118] and following the conference, journalist Jorge Ramos criticized Peña Nieto for not using the opportunity to publicly contradict Trump's campaign promise to make Mexico pay for his proposed Mexico–United States border wall, as well as Ramos called Trump's "attacks on Latin American immigrants, his rejection of free trade agreements and his scorn for global organizations."[119] Despite this, Peña Nieto stated on his Twitter that he made it clear to Trump that Mexico would not pay for the wall,[120] only to shortly after get a reply from Donald Trump saying: "Mexico will pay for the wall!"[121][122] According to Business Insider, Donald Trump's Mexican visit helped him surge in polls against Hillary Clinton.[123] Secretary of Finance, Luis Videgaray Caso, resigned shortly after supposedly suggesting the visit, but the Mexican media continued to blame Peña Nieto for authorizing the event.[124] Despite the universal fallout of criticism toward the Trump visit, on 4 January 2017, Videgaray was placed in charge of international relationships as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, despite never having any background in that field.[125] Many media outlets heavily criticized his return, didn't forgive him for the Trump incident, and criticized his tenure as Secretary of Finance.[126][127]

Trump's presidency and border wall[]

Peña Nieto and Trump were to meet on 26 January 2017, until Trump wrote on his Twitter account: "If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting". This directly led Peña Nieto to cancel his visit to the U.S. President.[128][129] In an interview with Aristegui Noticias, Washington periodist[spelling?] Dolia Estévez said she obtained access to part of a one-hour phone conversation between the two presidents the day of the scheduled meeting. She stated, "Trump humiliated Peña Nieto," and said that the conversation only lasted 20 minutes; she also explained that the speech was prolonged to an hour due to translation efforts because Peña Nieto doesn't understand English.[130][131][132] While many media outlets praised Peña Nieto for cancelling the visit with Trump, Forbes Mexico stated that despite showing support towards Peña Nieto for cancelling such event, "that shouldn't translate in forgiveness to what happens within our country [Mexico]" adding that "a state incapable of bringing credibility and stability could not grow", and that more than Trump, the thing keeping Mexico from prosperity was the corruption within the Mexican government.[133]

Presidential controversies and scandals[]

Time Magazine cover[]

Peña Nieto with former Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, January 2014
Peña Nieto with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, 8 July 2017

In February 2014, Time was met with controversy for the release of a cover featuring Enrique Peña Nieto and the legend Saving Mexico (written by Michael Crowley),[134] as the cover article's title inside the magazine.[135] The controversial article praised the president and his cabinet for reforms like opening oil fields for foreign investment for the first time in 75 years (a reform towards which Mexican citizens have shown mixed feelings), ending the Mexican drug wars (which was not completely accurate), and even going as far as saying "the opposition party blocked major reforms that were necessary", that "American leaders could learn a thing or two from their resurgent southern neighbor" and saying Mexicans citizens' "alarms were replaced with applause".[136] The last part proved false, when the cover immediately spawned heavy amounts of backlash on social media, becoming a meme[137] which spawned multiple parody covers ranging from changing the legend to mock words like "Selling Mexico", "Slaving Mexico", "Starving Mexico", "Who is saving Mexico from this ass-hole?" to ing Peña Nieto into clown make-up, dressed as the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the Pope, to one featuring an old lady holding a gun with the legend "Saving Mexico... pero de Peña Nieto" (but from Peña Nieto). Multiple articles criticized the article, and some websites even asked Time magazine if Peña Nieto paid for the cover story.[138][139][140][141][142][143][144] This prompted Michael Crowley, the writer of the article, to post on Twitter: "Remarkable how many critics of Mexico's president seem to believe I must have literally taken a bribe to write a positive story about him".[145]

Manipulation of news media in Mexico, through television, social media, spying and violence towards news journalists[]

The Mexican government of Peña Nieto has been accused of using various means to keep unfavorable news from reaching the Mexican people. Many Mexicans have protested this practice as it clearly goes against the freedom of speech. The PRI has been reported to use fake news since before Peña Nieto. The main tactic has been to spread such propaganda through radio and television. This tactic is perceived as effective in Mexico because newspaper readership is low and research on the Internet and cable TV is largely limited to the middle classes; consequently, the country's two major television networks – Televisa and TV Azteca – exert a significant influence in national politics. Televisa itself, owns around two-thirds of the programming on Mexico's TV channels, making it not only Mexico's largest television network, but also is the largest media network in the Spanish-speaking world.[146]

In June 2012, before the 2012 Mexican presidential elections, the British newspaper The Guardian published a series of allegations claiming Televisa, sold favorable coverage to top politicians in its news and entertainment shows, this scandal became known as the Televisa controversy.[146] The documents published by 'The Guardian alleged that a secretive circle within Televisa manipulated news coverage to favor PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who was poised as favorite to win.[147][148] Televisa's secret circle supposedly commissioned videos to promote Peña Nieto and lash out his political rivals in 2009. The Guardian documents suggest that Televisa's secret team distributed such videos through e-mail, posting them posted them on Facebook and YouTube, some can still be seen there.[148] Another document was a PowerPoint presentation, with a slide explicitly aimed at rival leftist candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Andrés Manuel López Obrador.[146] Supposedly given to The Guardian by a Televisa employee. The document's authenticity was never possible to confirm– however dates, names, and events largely coincide.[146][149] Televisa refused to talk the documents, and denied a relationship with the PRI or its presidential candidate, saying that they had provided equal media coverage to all parties.[148] Televisa published an article supposedly showing discrepancies in The Guardian documents and denying accusations.[150]

Mexican citizens complained about the perceived favoritism towards Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI, protesting through the Yo Soy 132 movement which Televisa covered in detail. However, Televisa's news media coverage is perceived to have been biased, by using a media coverage tactic Mexican citizens call cortinas de humo (smoke screens).[151] These introduce a news scandal giving extensive coverage to distract citizens from a potential conflict-of-interest or controversy that could damage the image of the politician favored by the network. An example of a perceived smoke screen would be the news media coverage of "Caso Michoacán" and "Caso Paolette"[152] distracting all the attention from the parallel "Yo soy 132" movement.[153] A few years later, on the day of September 11, 2016; factual evidence of Televisa's performing media manipulation emerged, when a Televisa news anchor while live-on air reading a teleprompter, mistakenly read out loud that "try that Jaime "Ël Bronco" Rodríguez Calderón (Nuevo Leon's governor) is mentioned as little as possible". Newspaper El Universal caught it on video and published it social media. Televisa didn't mention the story and declined to comment. Lack of news coverage concerning Nuevo León's Governor Jaime Rodriguez, is perceived due to him being the first elected governor to not be part of any political party (Independent Governor), and because unlike the governors from the PRI preceding him, the independent governor "El Bronco" doesn't spend money on publicity at all, preferring to communicate all news by using social media such as Twitter and Facebook. While the incident may have proven Televisa's bias, there wasn't anything to incriminate the PRI political party or Enrique Peña Nieto, though it did further suspicion of Televisa manipulating news media.[154] In contrast, a December 2017 article of The New York Times, reported Enrique Peña Nieto spending about 2000 million dollars on publicity, during his first 5 years as president, the largest publicity budget ever spent by a Mexican President. Additionally, 68 percent of news journalists admitted to not believe to have enough freedom of speech, and award-winning news reporter Carmen Aristegui was controversially fired shortly after revealing the Mexican White House scandals.[155]

Far for only being receiving accusations of spreading fake news, the Mexican government of EPN has also been accused of violence towards news journalists, and of spying on them, and also towards civil right leaders and their families. During his tenure as president, Peña Nieto has been accused of failing to protect news journalists, whose deaths are speculated to be politically triggered, by politicians attempting to prevent them from covering political scandals. The New York Times published a news report on the matter titled, "In Mexico it's easy to kill a journalist", on it mentioning how during EPN's government, Mexico became one of the worst countries on which to be a journalist.[156] The assassination of journalist Javier Valdez on May 23, 2017 received national coverage, with multiple news journalists asking for "real protection", as well as freedom of speech.[157][158] The president announced to be "deeply wounded" by such death,[159][160] Despite this Mexican citizens, as well as political party of opposition perceived, the presidential words as hypocritical,[161] and the outlook does not look favorable with Mexico already leading as the country most journalist killed in 2017, with 5 assassinations.[162][163]

On June 19, 2017, The New York Times in conjunction with news reporter Carmen Aristegui, and even backed by a Televisa news reporter Carlos Loret de Mola, reported that the Mexican Government uses a spyware software known as Pegasus, to spy on targets such as Mexican News reporters (and their families) and Civil Rights Leaders (and their families) using text messages as lures. Since 2011, the Mexican Government invested $80 million worth of spyware. Pegasus spyware infiltrates a persons cellphone and reports every detail of their messages, e-mails, contacts and calendars. After the revelation, the Israeli manufacturer of the Pegasus spyware, NSO Group, re-stated it only sold such technology to governments with an 'explicit agreement', that such technology was meant 'only to combat organized crime' by spying on it; although once it sells the software it cannot control who they use it against and basically leaves the government's on their own to monitor themselves on not abusing the software. The New York Times and independent forensic analysts analyzed the data of 'dozens of messages', multiple times before proving their accusation, and commented of such espionage towards news journalists and civil rights leaders, as 'an effort from the Mexican Government to thwart the battle against corruption infecting every limb of Mexican Society', and how highly unlikely it would be for such espionage it to receive 'Judicial Approval'.[164][165] Edward Snowden who worked for US government's NSA before revealing it to spy on its citizens, also said all evidence points to the Mexican government being the spy,[166] and on Twitter said it is "a crime to the public".[167]

The hacking attempts were 'highly personalized' for each target, they would consist on sending text messages with an attached link, and for the spyware to enter a users smartphone, all it needed was for the smartphone owner to click on the link. The news reporter Carmen Aristegui, whom previously in 2014, had revealed a conflict of interest regarding the president ownership of a Mexican "Casa Blanca (White House)" and was unfairly fired from her job for airing such investigation, herself, received 22 hacking attempts, the most for any journalist who has been found targeted, one of those attempts disguised as a message sent by an American Embassy in Mexico, trying to help her with a problem with her Visa; additionally Aristegui's son Emilio Aristegui received attempts for 23 months despite being an under-age 16-year-old teen. News media perceived attempts at Aristegui as revenge from the Mexican government.[168] News reporter Carlos Loret de Mora received 8 attempts. While, Juan E. Pardinas, the director of the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness, also received multiple attempts where he was told men with guns were outside his house and another where a contact not on his list invited him to his father funeral because saying he was a "close friend", the attempt on his wife went as far as claiming Padilla was having an extramarital affair, but she could only see the evidence if she clicked the link. Also, most of the parents, protesters and the major leaders of the investigations of the "Ayotzinapa, 43 Students Massacre" received spyware messages, so did the "Women of Atenco" (a scandal directly tied to Enrique Peña Nieto's time as Governor of the State of Mexico).The New York Times article contained a picture of EPN.[164][169][170]

On June 20, 2017, the day after. The opposition political party, National Action Party (PAN) denounced the Mexican government to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for suspicions of violations towards human rights and requested them, to lead an investigation citing such spying causes violations towards the article 16th of the Mexican Constitution, as well as violating article 11th of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[171] While, in response to the accusations, Peña Nieto made public that such technology was bought and indeed used by the Mexican government, but he denied misuses, and stated that it was only used to protect Mexicans by searching for criminal by saying he "also felt spied upon, but there was nothing more fake than blaming the (Mexican) government", and that there was "no proof";[172] saying he ordered the PGR an investigation and that he hoped "under the law, it can be applied against those that have raised false accusations against the government.", with the last part of the quote making journalist hacking victims feel threatened.[173] Which forced the Mexican president to call writer of the article Azam Ahmed to tell him, he was not menacing him.[174] However, due to his previous presidential scandals, Peña Nieto words lacked credibility to most Mexicans, with journalists like Jorge Ramos complaining about how Enrique Peña Nieto remains in power despite his illegal actions.[175] Later on the day political rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) who competed for the presidency against EPN in 2012 and intends to compete again in 2018 as the candidate from the MORENA political party, was also revealed to be among the hacking targets, with his son also as a target.[176] On June 23, 2017, the National Human Rights Commission (Mexico) opened a case regarding the government espionage.[177]

Concerning the spreading of news through social media, Peñabots is the name given to what analysts believe to be a network of automated accounts on social media used by the Mexican government to spread pro-government propaganda and to marginalize dissenting opinions in social media, the bots were first noticed in the 2012 elections when they were used to disseminate opinions in support of Enrique Peña Nieto in social networks.[178] According to Aristegui Noticias, their usage goes against articles 6 and 134 of the Mexican Constitution, the ones used by the current government cost an estimated 80 million pesos monthly fee, which news outlets argument only helps the government spread fake support towards the president, but does not have a benefit towards Mexican people (with whom EPN is highly unpopular). Facebook currently holds approximately 640,321 Peñabots, while Twitter requires less.[179] As of July 2017, Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project claimed Mexico's social media manipulation to come directly from the Mexican Government itself.[180][181]

The controversies regarding the perceived Televisa news media coverage in favor of the PRI, and the spreading of fake news by the Mexican government has had an impact on Mexican popular culture. Director and writer Luis Estrada released the black-comedy film The Perfect Dictatorship (2014), it was based on the perceived media manipulation in Mexico.[182][183] Set in a Mexico with a tightly controlled media landscape, the plot centered on a corrupt politician (a fictional stand-in for Enrique Peña Nieto) from a political party (serving as a fictional stand-in for the PRI), and how he makes a deal with TV MX (which serves as a stand-in to Televisa) to manipulate the diffusion of news towards his benefit, in order to save his political career.[184][relevant? ]

Mexican white house scandals and Panama Papers revelations[]

The "Mexican white house scandals" refers to multiple journalistic reports concerning conflicts of interest found in houses owned by Peña Nieto. The first report concerning a Mexican white house was uncovered by news journalist Carmen Aristegui from Aristegui Noticias, the 2014 news report revealed that first lady Angélica Rivera's $7 million house in Lomas de Chapultepec in Mexico City was registered under Grupo Higa, the name of a construction company property of Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú, the construction company received contracts in the state of Mexico when Enrique Peña Nieto was governor. With Peña Nieto as president, a subsidiary of the same company was also awarded part of a huge contract to build a high-speed train from Mexico City to Querétaro. Adding fuel to the fire, Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú is a close friend of Peña Nieto, and the "Panama Papers" scandal further revealed he enlisted Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to create trusts for accounts worth US$100 million[185] after he was investigated for allegedly giving special favours to the Mexican president Peña Nieto and his wife, according to an analysis by ICIJ, who said that the documents showed "a complex offshore network" of nine companies in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.[186] Described as Peña Nieto's "favorite contractor", Hinojosa's companies have won more than eighty government contracts and received at least US$2.8 billion in state money.[187]

The revelation about the potential conflict of interest in the acquisition of the house aggravated discontent about the governments handling of the disappearance and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by a drug gang working with corrupt police and government officers in Guerrero. Rivera released a video in which she detailed her income as a former soap opera actress, stating that she was selling the house and that the property was not under her name because she had not made the full payment yet.[188] However, Enrique Peña Nieto has failed to address the potential conflict of interest in spite of constant demands by Mexican citizens, media and opposition senators.[189][190]

Peña Nieto meeting Pope Francis at the papal inauguration
Peña Nieto meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 2017

The high-speed train contract and its construction were later cancelled amid protests regarding the bidding process.[191] In 2017, Aristegui Noticias revealed the cancelation triggered another scandal. In 2014, after Grupo Higa was denied the contract, the Mexican government declared the real winner of the contract to be China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC). However, after the bad press spawned from the conflict of interest, the Mexican government fully stopped the project. After years of legal work, the government of China sued the Mexican government, arguing that " the Mexican government did not act with transparency, nor good faith, towards the Chinese construction company". Adding that by not allowing CRCC to perform the train construction, they legitimately should have won, the Mexican government broke a 2008 treaty between China and Mexico. The treaty's purpose to protect Chinese companies projects in Mexico (and Mexican companies projects in China). Now China is seeking an indemnization of $600 million, by arguing the Mexican government's conflict of interest, damaged a Chinese construction company by denying it the construction job.[192]

Sometime after, Peña Nieto was linked to second house owned by Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú and his company Grupo Higa. The second white house was used during the presidential campaign in 2012 and a few times following his election. The official statement from the President's office, however, claims that the house was used only a few times for meetings and not when he was president. An article published on Aristegui Noticias provided evidence that the house was indeed used by Peña Nieto after the election.[193]

"Acarreados" in fourth year of government conference and presidential plane controversies[]

The day after Trump visited Mexico, Peña Nieto gave an annual speech, focusing on his 4th year of government, which was surrounded by controversy after denying plagiarism of his thesis despite evidence and fallout from Trump's visit.[194] Many media outlets, and figures including PAN President Ricardo Anaya[195][196] claimed those attending the conference were active members of the PRI, this was strongly supported by many photos shared over social media, extracted directly from many of the attendants Twitter and Facebook accounts, in them many were revealed to have attended previous events from the PRI.[197]

During the conference, Peña Nieto said he would go on an international trip the next day, claiming to only travel with people who were pivotal to such trips. On 2 October 2016, Aristegui revealed evidence of at least 12 friends and family members have made unnecessary trips aboard the presidential plane, including his brother, his sons (9 occasions) Grupo Higa President Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantu (whose company was part of the house scandal), first lady Angelica Rivera (17 occasions), her sisters (7 occasions, including an unnecessary stop in Istanbul) and a friend of Peña Nieto's daughter, Paulina Peña.[198]

Protests and marches against Peña Nieto's Government[]

Mexican citizens have organized protests to express their disapproval of Enrique Peña Nieto's government.

Mexico's Grito de Independencia 2016[]

A month after the visit of Trump, during the Independence Day celebration on 15 September 2016, thousands of citizens marched, yelling and holding papers with mottos such as "Fuera Peña! " and (Get out Peña!) and "Renuncia ya! " (Resign now!). The protesters attempted to enter the Zocalo and protest peacefully while the president gave the traditional Grito de Indepencia (Cry of Dolores) , but the protesters were blocked by a wall of soldiers. The president gave the Grito, and news outlets failed to acknowledge the protest. While the Zocalo wasn't empty during the Grito, there is a strong belief among Mexican citizens, that the people who attend were poor people, bussed in from other states, offered a "free trip to the capital, a big great show" and food.[199] This perceived practice is called "bringing Acarreados", which means bringing people who have nothing to simulate support. (The term also applies to hand-picking people of the same political party to events to simulate more support.) Citizens also complained about the coverage of the protests.[200]

Gasolinazo protests in 2017[]

Following Peña Nieto's hike in the price of gasoline as a result of his privatization of the Mexican oil industry, thousands of people protested throughout the entire country. Protestors blockaded major highways, forced border crossings to be closed and shut down gas stations. Widespread looting also occurred.[201]

Public reception[]

Lowest presidential approval in modern history[]

Peña Nieto, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and U.S. President Barack Obama doing a three-way handshake which was described as awkward by international news media. Taken at North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa, Canada, on 29 June 2016.[202][203][204]

In August 2016, Peña Nieto's approval ratings dropped to 23 percent (74 percent said they disapproved of his performance), which newspaper Reforma revealed to be the lowest approval rating for a president since they began polling in 1995.[13]

The approval decreased to 12% by January 19, 2017.[14]

Media gaffes[]

Enrique Peña Nieto has been known for his occasional lapses in memory or gaffes during public events or interviews.[205] The most-noted incident occurred during the International Book Fair of Guadalajara on 3 December 2011.[206] On that day, during a question and answer session, he was asked by an audience member to name three books that had influenced him, being only able to correctly reference the Bible.[207][208] He then "rambled, tossing out confused title names, asking for help in recalling authors and sometimes mismatching" the two others.[209] Other incidents have involved him not being able to recall Benito Juárez's year of birth,[210] being unable to remember the acronym of the Federal Institute of Access to Information (IFAI),[211][212] changing the date of foundation of the state of Hidalgo,[213][214] mistaking the capital of the State of Veracruz,[215] mentioning the U.S. presidential candidate "La señora Hillary Trump" (Mrs. Hillary Trump),[216] among others,[217] of varying degree of substantiation or credibility. However, they have become viral on social media, especially Twitter[218][219] and a website that counts the number of days since his last gaffe.[220]

Personal life[]


Family life[]

Peña Nieto with family in Atlacomulco on the 2012 election day.

In 1993, Peña married his first wife, Mónica Pretelini (b. 1963) and the couple had three children: Paulina, Alejandro and Nicole.[221][222] Peña Nieto had two illegitimate children during his first marriage; a son with Maritza Díaz Hernández, and another child, with an undisclosed woman, who died as an infant.[223] Pretelini died on 11 January 2007 as the result of an epileptic episode.[221][224] Pretelini had a vital role during the campaign of Peña Nieto's governorship.[221]

In 2008, Peña Nieto began a relationship with Televisa soap opera actress Angélica Rivera, who he had hired to help publicize his political campaign for the State of Mexico. The couple married in November 2011,[225][226] although media outlets have questioned the validity of the marriage as of 2015, alleging that Mexico's Catholic Church bent rules[227] or that the marriage could have been a publicity stunt to help his presidential campaign.[228]

Peña Nieto has said that he provides for the son he fathered with Hernández, but has little contact with him. His support for the child became a political issue during the 2012 presidential election, when both Hernández and rival candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota accused him of not supporting the child.[229]

Extended family[]

EPN is the cousin of Alfredo del Mazo Maza, the current governor of the state of Mexico (on whom his grandfather, father, distant uncle Arturo Montiel, as well as EPN himself, have previously been governors, in fact his family has had uninterrupted control of the state for 29 years).[230] Despite the official vote results given by the INE (Electoral National Institute), the election of EPN's cousin was marred by irregularities including reports of vote-buying,[231] spending beyond legal campaign finance limits,[232] and electoral counts that gave del Mazo extra votes that awarded the election to him.[233] In November 2017, magazine Proceso published an article accusing the PRI of breaking at least 16 state laws during the elections, which were denounced 619 times. They said that all of them were broken in order to favor del Mazo during the election.[234]


S.S. Papa Francisco- Ceremonia de Bienvenida en Palacio Nacional - 24913867991.jpg
Pope Francis in the Mexican Palacio Nacional

See also[]


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  2. ^ "Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) on Twitter". mobile.twitter.com. Retrieved 2017-02-24. 
  3. ^ "Mexico election: Enrique Peña Nieto". BBC News. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Enrique Pena Nieto wins Mexican presidential election". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Graham, Dave (2 July 2012). "Enrique Pena Nieto, the new face of Haiti's old rulers". Reuters. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Star, Pamela K. (6 July 2012). "Enrique Peña Nieto: Mexico's new face". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  7. ^ O'Boyle, Michael (8 July 2012). "Mexican electoral officials confirm Pena Nieto win". Reuters. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "New President of Mexico Vows to Focus on Economy". The New York Times. 2 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Thousands protest outcome of elections in Mexico". Fox News. 3 July 2012. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Protests target Peña Nieto in Mexico City". Fox News. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Cártel de Juárez, proveedor del PRI y financiador en la campaña de Peña Nieto (Reportaje especial)". aristeguinoticias.com. 
  12. ^ Castañeda, Jorge G. (7 February 2018). "It's Time for an Immigration Enchilada". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  13. ^ a b "Why Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is so unpopular". 
  14. ^ a b c Archibold, Randal C.; Zabludovsky, Karla (3 July 2012). "Enrique Peña Nieto". New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "The PRI and Loathing in Mexico City". 28 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Estevez, Dolia. "The 10 Most Corrupt Mexicans of 2013". 
  17. ^ "Lo que (quizá) no sabes de Enrique Peña Nieto". 
  18. ^ Becerril, Andrés (30 April 2012). "Enrique Peña Nieto, su hoja de vida: pulcro y protegido". Excélsior (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Becerril, Andrés (1 May 2012). "Enrique Peña Nieto, su hoja de vida: despertar político". Excélsior (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
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External links[]

Political offices
Preceded by
Arturo Montiel
Governor of the State of Mexico
Succeeded by
Eruviel Ávila
Preceded by
Felipe Calderón
President of Mexico
Party political offices
Preceded by
Roberto Madrazo
Institutional Revolutionary Party nominee for President of Mexico
Most recent