“Mexico is Burning” Jorge Castañeda, Huffington Post, Jan. 15, 2015

“Two years on, success seems to be slipping through Peña Nieto's hands. The country and its increasingly grey-haired president are experiencing one tragedy, scandal, or disappointment after another

Mexico is facing the most serious crisis since 1994, when “so-called Zapatista guerrillas” killed the successor of President Salinas,  and the peso fell 70%. Today's crisis is not as bad, but is getting closer. In 2012, President Peña Nieto took office without a majority, with 38% of the votes. The opposition questioned the results. His predecessor left him a war on drugs that had left 60,000 people killed and 20,000 missing. Peña Nieto was thought to turn things around. He made a deal with the opposition parties and carried out many reforms. It was the “Mexican Moment”. But two years on, things started to change. The price of oil plunged 40%, and Mexico is growing at just 2%. The deal the President made with his predecessor is also a problem for his image. In order to have the support for an energy-sector reform, he pardoned transgressions by the former Administration. “This hurts Peña Nieto's image in exactly the areas in which Mexicans most mistrust their leaders: violence and graft”. The assassination of 22 civilians by the army and the disappearance and then murder and incineration of 43 students were not unexpected news for the Mexican people, but this time something different happened. The people protested. Peña Nieto didn't handle the situation: expecting it to fade away, he waited a month before meeting the students’ parents. Also, charges of corruption are increasing. The President tried to overcome the crisis by promising new reforms to improve security and strengthen the rule of law. But law has never ruled in Mexico. Order was imposed by a corrupt and authoritarian state for 70 years, until 2000. This has never been recognized, and until it does nothing will change. Peña Nieto, coming from the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years, is not likely to be the one to change that. He has four more years in office, and he has lost the support of the political elite for his radical reforms. But a populist backlash could end with what the country has achieved in the last 20 years.

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“Mexico is Burning” Jorge Castañeda, Huffington Post, Jan. 15, 2015


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