Enrique Peña Nieto: Savior of Mexico or Wall Street Hero?


Source: TIME

By: Kimberly Cárdenas, Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR)

The cover reads, “Saving Mexico: How Enrique Peña Nieto’s Sweeping Reforms Have Changed the Narrative In His Narco-Stained Nation.” TIME’s February 24th international edition features Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto in a glorified stance and touts him as a savior of Mexico. The article, “Mexico’s New Mission” praises the president’s “most ambitious package of social, political and economics reforms in memory.” Backlash against the praise of the “reforms” of the president has sprouted all across the transnational online world.

Michael Crowley, the author of “Mexico’s New Mission” focuses on one general concept of why Peña Nieto’s Mexico has been so successful: the economic prosperity due to privatization of the country’s huge oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).  Opening up Mexico’s oil reserves allows big oil business companies to operate in Mexico “so oil giants can ship the oil to their own refineries.” Protestors occupied the podium on December 11, 2013 at the National Congress with a poster that quoted former president Lazaro Cárdenas: “Whoever gives natural resources away to foreigners is a traitor to the nation.” Before PEMEX became available to foreign investors, it was regarded “as a symbol of national sovereignty.”

Protestors occupying the podium on December 11, 2013 at the National Congress. Photo from: Huffington Post

In his article, Crowley states that as a result of the opening for private investment of PEMEX, “smart money has begun to bet on peso power.” The word choice of this statement undermines Mexico’s monetary credibility by placing importance on its reliance on big business. Mexico has gone quickly from being considered a backwards country to being “the most favored nation” on Wall Street.

The cover’s praise of the Mexican president has incited furor from the Mexican people across the world. When asked about his response to the people’s attacks regarding PEMEX, Peña Nieto told TIME, “The state does not compromise in its view that the property continues to be owned by Mexico. It belongs to all Mexicans.”


Enrique Peña Nieto with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates: Photo from: El Observador 

Backlash against the positivity of Peña Nieto’s “reforms” has manifested itself in various forms since the release of the TIME’s “Mexico’s New Mission,” and since it was revealed that the cost of EPN as the cover of TIME was 576 thousand pesos ($43,502.89).  In this era of technology, Twitter has had an influential role. For example, Luis A. de Jesús tweets, “Mexican president heralded as ‘Saving Mexico’ From the Narco Wars. Those of us living here KNOW better. Disgusting.”In addition to the tweets, several meme-style images have been created that mock the cover with captions as these: “Selling Mexico,” “Slaying Mexico,” “Enrique Peña Nieto: President of Ignorance, Corruption, and Hate, “Thank you for the oil: How Enrique Peña Nieto’s sweeping reforms have taken Mexico 70 years to the past.” The last of the images portrays an elderly woman in indigenous garb holding a rifle with the following caption: “Saving Mexico… from Peña Nieto.”


Source: ThinkMexican 

The “ThinkMexican” blog states that Enrique Peña Nieto’s move to privatize the country’s largest oil company would result in the commendation from foreign investors who would “wait for the economic crisis to hit in order to buy even more of Mexico at a lower price.”  It also applauds the Mexican people for “saving themselves” from Peña Nieto and for recognizing injustice committed against them.

Priest and human rights leader Alejandro Solalinde recently wrote to the Mexican president, asking the President to prioritize those in need in the nation. Solalinde, winner of Mexico’s National Human Rights Prize in 2012, has been particularly active in aiding transmigrants that are alienated from Mexican society. He advocates against the criminalization of social protest and against “reforms” that benefit only one class in Mexico: the elite in power, not the true owners of the land and of sovereignty: the Mexican people.

Enrique Peña Nieto has been, in the past, harshly criticized for prioritizing the global and national elites at the expense of the Mexican people, and in moving in a direction that places the country at the mercy of other nations. TIME’s international cover for February 24th portrays a benign, caring president, but when the multitude protests, it raises these questions: who holds the power, who benefits from such a positive portrayal, whose voices are being omitted from the other side of the story, and why is TIME so supportive of the President of Mexico?




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