Monday, November 17, 2014

México: Presidency Besieged by Crises, Smooth Talk Only Gets You So Far

According to Reuters, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said late on Saturday (November 17), the government would next week give answers about a luxury house acquired by his wife that have raised serious questions about the ethical standards of his administration.
Days after the government canceled a $3.75 billion rail contract won in an uncontested bid by a Chinese-led consortium, local media reports identified the property as linking one of the Mexican partners in the group to Peña Nieto.
Reports about the home have swelled a recent tide of public anger about the Mexican government, which has been under heavy fire for its management of the disappearance of 43 students in the southwest of the country in late September 2014.
Opposition lawmakers claimed the rail deal had been fixed. It was won by a consortium including a company called Grupo Higa just before Peña Nieto went on a visit to China.
COMMENT: Reports state that one of Grupo Higa's subsidiaries had built a $7 million home for Peña Nieto's wife, Angelica Rivera, and that the property was still in the company's name. 

The presidency said a week ago Rivera had agreed to buy the home in 2012, but details of the deal remain unclear. The government said she would become owner once payment was complete.
Returning to México late on Saturday, Peña Nieto said his office would provide documentation and information on the home in the coming week to clear up "imprecise and baseless assertions" on the matter. He did not offer further details.
Last weekend, the door to Peña Nieto's ceremonial presidential palace was set on fire by demonstrators angered at the government's response to the students' disappearance.
The government says the 43 students were likely killed by a drug gang working with corrupt police, but has yet to provide definitive proof.

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