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
    Bianca-Rhae Jacquez

    I this article does a good job in explaining the reasons that the Mexican government became corrupted. I don’t follow politics regarding Mexico but I do think this article helps people like me to better understand the type of problems that Mexico’s government is facing. I don’t like President Nieto he seems like a horrible person and a fraud and should’ve never been in power.

  2. Avatar
    Gabrien Gregory

    The author does an excellent job detailing some of the internal issues the Mexican government faces leading to corruption. For folks who do not know of the recent Mexican presidential elections, that was an important piece of information. I do argue the authors claim that a lot of the problme lies with lack of payment for law enforcement and the military. I think the problem must alwasy start to be fixed by fixing broken elections, electing fair-minded people who are not corrupt, and focusing on education. I would argue that Mexico’s war on drugs, largely brought forward by Peña Nieto, actually made the problem worse, the cartel’s more dangerous, and the people less safe. I would like to see more information on this and both sides of the description of the issue.

  3. Avatar
    Madison Guerra

    This article was very interesting and it provided a lot of information that i did not previously know about the Mexican president.He seemed to be a horrible person and a liar. From the second he stepped into office he only made Mexico’s problems even worse and took the to a point of no redemption.

  4. Avatar
    Antoinette Johnson

    President Nieto has failed to do his duty as president. His corruption is leading Mexico down a dark treacherous path. 43 students went missing and El Chapo escaped prison under his watch. It is hard to have hope that corruption in Mexico will end. You do not know who to trust. The government, the police, it seems like everyone is corrupt. The people you trust to help the country prosper are ruining it.

  5. Avatar
    Miguel Rivera

    I finally connected how plagiarism and dishonesty at the university level, can eventually lead to dishonesty in the political world and other types of environments. Any country should not be lead by a corrupted and dishonest person, it’s unfortunate that politicians aren’t trusted but that might change with the next President of Mexico. Regardless, Pena-Nieto has done his time, and hopefully the politicians come together to fight crime and corruption, and keep Mexico afloat.

  6. Avatar
    Karina Cardona Ruiz

    It’s sad the things that people will do for money no matter if it’s right or wrong or even if people will get hurt in the process. The amount of corruption in Mexico is alarmingly high and I’m sure it makes both citizens and tourists uneasy. Personally, when I go to Mexico to visit family I don’t ever feel safe because you never know what could happen. Not only this but you don’t know if their police enforcement will help you if you need it or if they’ve been bribed to look the other way. I still love Mexico I just hope that with a new president the necessary changes and regulations can be made so that it’s citizens and those just passing by can feel safe and trust the government. I also hope they can reduce the amount of people living in poverty and find those students.

  7. Avatar
    Sabrina Hsu

    There is so much corruption in the Mexican government. Hopefully this next election will help and the people will finally get what they are promised and what they deserve. It’s so sad what happened to those 43 students, and hopefully something like this won’t happen again. Everything that happened under Nieto’s presidency shows that he isn’t the person they thought he was and hopefully they choose someone better for their next president, and he will do better than what has been done in the past years.

  8. Avatar
    Megan Copeland

    This article was very sad to read. The amount of corruption and violence in Mexico is off the charts, and hopefully things will change for them with the new presidency. I think one of the saddest parts of this article is that a lot of children are not allowed to get an education because they are required to work. I also think it is crazy that many of the prison guards were involved with the escape of El Chapo from prison, which shows how corrupt Mexico is.

  9. Avatar
    Madison Downing

    Your article was very informational and I loved how I could hear the passion in your voice when you explained how president Pena-Nieto did the opposite of everything he said. I couldn’t believe it when you wrote about the 43 students including the theory that they police helped kidnap these students and handed them over to the cartel to let them be executed. Also then dealing with El Chapo and how they built a tunnel for him to escape and the guards helped him disappear. I agree with you that Mexico has the makings of a great country it just needs to get there by people who want it first.

  10. Avatar
    Maxx Arizmendi

    This article saddened me because of all the corruption that has been going on for the past many years. I have family that live in the poverty stricken areas of Mexico City, and it’s crazy how the government only cares about themselves enough to not help the people who are suffering. This is a result of Nieto’s presidency, since he hadn’t done much to help the people of Mexico. Other than that, this article was a good read.

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