Monday, December 1, 2014

México: Peña Nieto Begins His 3rd Year in Office Mired in Violence, Credibility Decline

According to The Latin American Tribune, after having managed to direct national and international focus, and general approval, on his government’s slate of wide-ranging structural reforms, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has begun the third year of his term mired in a serious crisis of violence and credibility loss.

The president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) returned to power after a 12-year gap on December 1, 2012.

Since then it has been closely watched by the media that has followed the legislative reform process, including one landmark law that opened the energy sector to the private sector after more than seven decades of state monopoly.

Yet, the reforms have also become the focus of much political debate and often-violent protests including in the education sector which establishes an evaluation systems for recruitment, retention and promotion for teachers and which has been opposed by a many educators reluctant to surrender their privileges.

Although the Mexican president has been praised by foreign dignitaries who visit México, often for the lack of violence that marked the previous government’s fight against organized crime and human rights violations, recent events have put the spotlight back on violence and credibility.

The first incident was the death of 22 civilians on June 30 in Tlatlaya in central México out of which eight were executed by soldiers, and 15 according to the National Commission of Human Rights.

A month ago the trial began against the seven soldiers involved in the Tlatlaya incident who are being prosecuted for homicide, abuse of public service and concealment.

The second incident, which has had infinitely more far-reaching ramifications, was the disappearance of 43 students of a rural teacher training school on September 26, in Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero.

The case has not only led to the arrest of the ex-mayor of Iguala and his wife, it has also sparked a wave of violent protests nationwide, demanding that the students be returned alive.

COMMENT: Yet, in a country known for world-class criminality and institutionalized corruption, which Peña Nieto has failed to address, the prognosis is not a pretty picture.

The reality is that since 2006, some 20,000 Mexicans have disappeared while the suave, polished President views everything to be “normal.”

The parents of the 43 missing students, as well as a large percentage of Mexicans, have refused to accept the investigation by the attorney general’s office according to which the youths were captured by Iguala police on the orders of the mayor and handed over to a drug cartel which killed them and burned their bodies.

In addition to these events, Peña Nieto has also recently declared his personal assets in response to a controversy about the investment by his wife, Angelica Rivera, in a luxurious mansion.

The mansion was constructed by the Grupo Higa firm that won several infrastructure projects in the State of México when Peña Nieto was governor.

Last week, Peña Nieto announced a renovation of municipal police in México, which fell flat, largely because it conveniently excluded federal law enforcement, which are viewed as equally corrupt.

Sticking to the formula that bore fruit at the beginning of his six-year term, the president said that on Tuesday (December 2) he intends to present three constitutional reforms to Congress.

And let’s not forget that former US Marine Andrew Tamooressi, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, spent seven months in a harsh Mexican prison largely because US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Peña Nieto failed to right a wrong that so many travelers make when accidentally entering México.

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