Mexican President: Enrique Peña Nieto and his failed presidency

Enrique Pena Nieto | Courtesy of
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 67 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Madeline Torres

    As someone who lives in a border town, it is saddening to say that this is in fact the main issues in the beautiful country of Mexico. It’s also sad how many prevent from going to Mexico because of its crime and violence. Mexico definitely deserves its justice and peace back, because Mexico holds many historic and wonderful tourist locations and the world and Mexican citizens deserve to enjoy and explore the country without fear. Mexico will soon become a great country again until a non-corrupt president goes into office, one just has to wonder when that would be.

  2. Avatar
    Daniela Cardona

    This article really struck a chord with me because my family is all from Mexico and knowing that I have relatives being put in harms way because of one man’s desire for power is gut wrenching. Mexico hails itself as a place of democracy, allowing its citizens to vote for their elected officials, yet a single powerhouse placed a man undeserving of power in office because of flawed ethics and smooth talk. Politics across the globe are flawed and this instance just hits a little closer to home. Lives are in danger and the reputation of a nation is at stake, yet nothing is being done about it.

  3. Avatar
    Valeria Perez

    It is horrible to see how the people are abused by the institution that is supposed to serve them. Mexican people deserve better.
    It is embarrassing and disgraceful how every time elections come around candidates promise the same things and give out the same results, nothing. Change is a two-way street; it must start with honorable authorities as well as people who live a life of integrity.

  4. Avatar
    Lilliana Canales

    The Mexican president has always been a controversial topic among those who are either from or have Mexican blood in them. Personally, I’ve never known the entire reason as to why people were so against his presidency other than he was “corrupt”. This article offers critical information to those who were uninformed such as the paying for opposing advertisements, the cheating in his past, the blame for El Chapo’s escape. This man has so much blame for Mexico’s political, social, and economic problems and it’s very clear that the author who wrote this article is passionate about change for the future of the Mexican government.

  5. Avatar
    Lorenzo Rivera

    I’m from a border town called “El Paso,” so this article got my attention. When I read the title I thought the article was going to be extremely focused on Pena Nieto, but unlike other articles that have critiqued Pena Nieto, this article brought attention to the horrible state of Mexico. That fact added to the effect the article had on me, and resulted in me agreeing with it for the most part.

  6. Avatar
    Didier Cadena

    This was a very interesting article. I knew of some of the problems that plagued Pena Nieto’s presidency, but I did not know that it was that bad. It is sad to see how little he was able to do in his presidency and how corrupt this gas were during his term. The article does a great job of putting all of the information together and keep the reader engaged in it.

  7. Avatar
    Gabriela Murillo Diaz

    The explanation of Pena Ñieto and his presidency was explained through the article. It was interesting to learn the actions that lead him to fail governing the Mexican people/ However, I believe that there were some unnecessary details given in the article. Taking it back to his plagiarism in university could have been used to give more relevant fact.

  8. Avatar
    Mariah Garcia

    A glaring problem with the Mexican Government comes in the form of its striking resemblance to the current state of the United States government, with officials only looking to line their pockets and serve their own agendas rather than keeping the interests of the people at the forefront. Just as well, Pena-Nieto’s long line of corruption has only served to further poison our Motherland. I can say without a doubt, será un hermoso día cuando
    México está sin la influencia de Peña Nieto.

  9. Avatar
    Faten Al Shaibi

    One of the most dangerous things that any people can face is the corruption of their president. This corruption leads to many injustices and crimes that harm the people.
    Corruption of the president leads to corruption in all sectors of the state, such as the police and officials and the loss of state funds, which leads to high poverty and drives the person to commit crimes for the money.

  10. Avatar
    Lyzette Flores

    This article personally really caught my eye because my parents are both Mexican so it is interesting reading about their home country. I do agree with some parts of this article but not all. I can agree with how corrupt it is because I’ve personally seen corruption happen in front of my eyes. Although I don’t necessarily agree with how it states that in order to increase the salary of the military as well as the law enforcement to raise taxes of the states. I don’t agree with it because as a result, the citizens are the ones that are going to have to pay them and honestly they barely have money to pass by life.

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