Mexican President: Enrique Peña Nieto and his failed presidency

Enrique Pena Nieto | Courtesy of

This year will be a very important year for Mexico since it brings the opportunity for change with the presidential election. The past six years have not been very progressive despite strong campaign promises from the current Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto. Enrique Peña Nieto has faced several controversies, his first occurred when he was running for office. During his campaign with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), he was accused of paying television network giant Televisa to show favorable ads about him, while making his opponent look bad. The PRI was in power in Mexico for 71 years straight from 1929-2000. Many Mexican citizens believed that the PRI was sabotaging votes in order to get members of their party to hold office.1

Peña Nieto’s cheating strategies can be traced back to when he was attending Panamerican University.2 He was accused of plagiarizing one of his assignments back in 1991. That was only the beginning of multiple problems that Peña Nieto would face. Two of his biggest campaign promises were to end corruption and stop violence. These promises were not fulfilled and in fact both violence and corruption have become worse. Each year, thousands of people are murdered or kidnapped in Mexico, two of the standards ways drug cartels operate. On September 26, 2014 a group of 43 students went missing in the small town of Iguala, located in Guerrero, Mexico. These students were the victims of corruption and violence that takes place in Mexico every day. The 43 students who were kidnapped were studying to become school teachers. The mayor of Iguala and the police were involved with drug traffickers and are seen as responsible for the kidnappings. There are several theories as to what may have happened to the 43 missing students and why it happened. Family members of the missing students believe that the students are still alive and that the police do not want them to know. A theory as to why the students went missing is that the mayor’s wife was giving a speech that same day and that the mayor was worried the students would protest during her speech. Therefore, the mayor ordered the police to stop the buses that were carrying theses students and forced them to get into their police cruisers. Once they had the students, the police officers turned them over to local drug cartel to be executed. The reason for the kidnappings, however, has not been confirmed, but the mayor’s arrest along with local law enforcement makes this theory believable. President Peña Nieto’s efforts to end corruption have clearly failed in this situation which resulted in 43 students missing for the past 4 years.3

The 43 missing students | Courtesy of The University of British Columbia

Another example of corruption is the escape of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman who was considered the biggest drug lord in the world at the time of his arrest. He was so powerful and was on the US most wanted list. The U.S offered a 5 million dollars reward for information that would lead to his capture. El Chapo was captured for the second time on Feb 22, 2014 in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. This victory for justice in Mexico was short lived and on June 11, 2015 El Chapo escaped once again from prison through a tunnel that was built by members of his Sinaloa cartel. Prison guards were involved in the escape which demonstrates how corrupt Mexico is.4 The level of  federal corruption has surpassed the local corruption at this point. Many elected officials have been involved in various scandals in recent years. Javier Duarte, a former Mexican governor, was arrested last year after being on the run for corruption charges. He is one of 17 officials who have been under investigation since the start of the century, the 43 missing students and the escape of the most powerful drug lord show that corruption goes deeper than paying off a local cop to avoid a speeding ticket.5 Peña Nieto has been unable to stop or even impede drug cartels, who feed the corruption and violence in Mexico. Instead of focusing on these issues, he has taken advantage of his own elected office to give government contracts to companies with which he has strong ties. Grupo Higa was the group from which Peña Nieto’s wife bought a mansion for an estimated 7 million dollars, that same group received numerous government contracts worth millions.6

The tunnel in which El Chapo Escaped | Courtesy of Plugged Entertainment Magazine

Violence and Corruption are not the only issues that trouble Mexico. Lack of education and the level of poverty are extremely high in Mexico, with 50 million people living in poverty who make up 40% of the population. Children are often required to work instead of going to school, 20% of teenagers from ages 15-19 do not go to school but work instead.7 Mexican citizens believed in Peña Nieto when he first got elected, his approval rating was a respectable 61%. Peña Nieto’s approval rating fell drastically to 28% in 2018 after everything that happened in the country in the past 6 years.8 The Mexican government has been paralyzed by corruption for many years now and it seems that it will continue this way for future years to come unless an honorable candidate gets elected during this upcoming election. Mexico has the potential to be a great country; it is a big trade partner with the U.S and attracts many tourists to its lovely beaches and historical pyramids along each of its coasts. Mexican officials should stop trying to make easy money for themselves and focus more on serving their community. The government must start by paying its law enforcement a living wage and increasing the salary for the military too. Mexico can do this by raising taxes in its states. A big problem in Mexico is that law enforcement does not get paid enough and they tend to take bribes because they are tired of living in poverty while risking their lives against drug cartel members who have bigger and better weapons than them. Mexican police officers and military personnel must also be held responsible for being corrupt and an example should be made of anyone who is found guilty of corruption within the government. The citizens of Mexico deserve better and change must start with the president. As of now no candidate has mentioned a plan to combat drug trafficking however Mexico’s front runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to make changes to end violence in Mexico. Despite not mentioning any of his tactics to combat violence in the city, Obrador has mentioned that he will not follow the same techniques as past presidents. He has also promised to end violence in Mexico in half his term.9 One can only hope that the next president’ promises will be kept, by whoever comes into office.


  1. Carol Brennan, Laura Avery, Pena Nieto, Enrique (Farmington Hills, MI: Newsmakers 2014 cumulation, 2014), 371-372.
  2. Salem Press Bio Encyclopedia, 2015, s.v.”Enrique Pena Nieto,” by Micah Issitt.
  3. Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2017, s.v. “Mexico,” by Funk and Wagnalls.
  4. Tessa Berenson, “Timeline of El Chapo’s Major Escapes and Captures,” Times, Jan 8, 2016. Accessed April 15, 2018.
  5. Elizabeth Malkin,” Corruption at a level of audacity, Never seen in Mexico,” New York Times, April 19, 2017,  accessed April 19, 2018.
  6. Jo Tuckman, ” Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto faces outcry over £4.4m mansion,” The Guardian, Nov 10, 2014. Accessed April 15, 2018.
  7. Cheri Spence,” The chance to learn,” Childfund Org, Mar 25, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2018.
  8. Asad Ismi, “A Nation On The Brink,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, no. 1 (Jan 2018): 1-2.
  9. Jose Belmont, “AMLO promote acabar con el narco en 3 anos,” Millenio Noticias, Jan 2, 2018. Accessed April 29, 2018.

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This Post Has 60 Comments

  1. Avatar

    You cannot help, but feel bad for the Mexican government/people and their unfortunate circumstances. All aspects of the government are corrupt they just seem to continue to get worse, I do not really see what one can do to make life better. Even if you do have a president that does all the right things, those that live and thrive off the current corrupt government will fight their hardest to keep their corrupt government. Those that are corrupt also have so much influence (that is both seen and unseen by the government in the communities) that it does not seem possible to simply overpower them. I would not hesitate to call it a generalization if someone were to say that corruption is found in every aspect of Mexican life. I am not to saying that we should give up on Mexico’s problems, I hope that Mexico in the near future can get right leaders and prospers, but what I am saying is future leaders have their work cut out for them.

  2. Avatar

    I was still living in Mexico when Pena Nieto started his campaign for the Mexcian Presidency, he made a lot of promises to the population and even gave away washing machines, groceries, and stuff for the household to win more votes on election day. Many people now regret to have voted for him and after six years people now have to live with the consequences of his corrupt presidency. The new president Manuel Lopez Obrador is now in office and so far the population is surprised due to his contribution to education and social problems when a lot of people worried he had finally won the votes for the presidency after many attempts.

  3. Avatar

    Mexico is one of the richest countries in the world in regards to culture and beauty. However, I have witnessed the downfall of the country in regards to corruption and hunger for full power. It is quite upsetting that its community fears its own government. I remember watching the news with my family and hearing nothing but committed murders and kidnappings. Rather than feeling disgust with the government, I feel sadness. I feel sad that the government is ran by cartels, ran by the hunger of power and wealth. It is evidential that its citizens want nothing other than out of their current governmental situation.

  4. Avatar

    I didn’t know that Enrique Pena Nieto had paid the Mexican network Televisa to air misleading commercials of him and slander the Institutional Revolutionary Party. I also didn’t know that 43 people had went missing in In Iguala. No one had a clue as to how they went missing and their families were left helpless. Mexico was in such terrible shape with a corrupt government and police force. He promises to fix things and doesn’t do anything to help the people of Mexico. Its sad to read that the Mexican president docent care about his people.

  5. Avatar

    A lot of people do not realize how lucky we are of living in a country where is safe for most people and the government is not as corrupt as in other places. In Mexico is hard to get anything legal with the government, they tend to be as bad as the criminals. When Pena Nieto was in the presidency, he did nothing, and now with the new president no good things are happening either. The Mexican citizens deserve better than what they are getting, but I think that politicians tend to take advantage of how trusting some people are and how they want to make Mexico a better country. As mention in the article, Mexico has potential to become a great country, but there are many things that need to change in order to improve the way of living and the insecurity that people face everyday.

  6. Avatar

    I have always been aware of Mexico’s corrupt police and government, but I did not realize that the president’s are also involved in such a matter. However, I have never heard of the case of the 43 missing students. That is very tragic that the top theory for this case involves police kidnapping, when citizens should trust in there community security, to actually secure them. I hope mexico becomes a safer environment for its people and for the tourist’s visiting, because based on my own personal opinion, I would not want to visit a country in these conditions.

  7. Avatar

    This article is truly interesting, the person people trusted and put their faith in basically spit in their face. My heart goes to those people in Mexico because honestly it is rough to not only be fearful of the cartels but not being able to depend on your own government, the people you elected to keep you safe. I remember hearing about the 43 students, and to me it was so shocking how that large of a group could just go missing and no one basically did anything,

  8. Avatar

    This article is quite interesting because it does express the true self of how Enrique peña Nieto started off his presidency. As a person who would travel to Mexico to visit family, they would always tell me how his presidency affected them and what the outcomes had brought. Right now as there are officials out there, they think it’s easy to just get money off of people but in reality, they should be aware of focusing on how they serve the community when it comes to situations like this. The money they get does not even stay with them because they know that a portion of it has to be paid to whoever has them gaining on people. This article is sad to read how the students were robbed and how there was no help, but again the president didn’t care, which made him a bad impact for Mexico.

  9. Avatar

    Enrique Pena Nieto’s way to “success” if you can even call it that, is a disgrace given that he never really changed the way of life for the better in Mexico. I remember hearing about the 43 missing students and it always baffled me as to how they disappeared and that he could be one of the main reasons for that kidnapping. The people in Mexico can only hope for the best with A.M.L.O (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) and that he actually complies with all the promises that he made when he won the presidency.

  10. Avatar

    Pena Nieto had such a terrible impact on Mexico that feels everlasting. It is disgusting to think that he cheated his way through with fake promises to those under educated and helpless. Also, I had heard about the theory of the missing forty-three students. It is really sad they went missing, but terrifying to think it could be a possibility that their own president felt he was entitled to do as he pleased without a care of his own citizens.

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