Editorial: Peña Nieto Must Correct Course

Today, the president’s figure is a target for mockery and distrust.

Enrique Peña Nieto, presidente de México.
Enrique Peña Nieto, presidente de México.
Foto: EFE

Mexico is celebrating a new year of independence as the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto is in jeopardy. During the last four years, corruption scandals and unsolved massacres have earned him the lowest approval rates on record, while he faces demands to step down.

We do not believe that a hurried departure from Los Pinos would be a magical solution. However, it is necessary to correct the course of this the ship in the next two years. Having him increase his personal popularity may be an impossible task at this point, but firing him – even though constitutional processes to remove the president exist – would add an uncertainty that may become problematic.

The issue is that the blunders need to stop, especially those reflecting the disconnect between Los Pinos and the reality felt by everyday Mexicans. The recent appointment of Tomás Zerón as technical secretary of the Security Council is an example of what not to do. It is inconceivable, at least from a political point of view, to promote one of the most discredited investigators of the Iguala massacre cover up.

These blunders are paid dearly, and this is something the President should know by now. The awkward handling of the visit of Republican candidate to the U.S. presidency Donald Trump led to the resignation of the secretary of the Tax and Public Credit agency, Luis Videgaray. An important ally – if a terrible advisor in this particular case – Videgaray was rumored to be a probable presidential candidate for the PRI party in the next election.

The Trump episode is yet another straw on the camel’s back of the popular discontent accumulated throughout Peña Nieto’s term, during which 80,000 people have been murdered, human rights violations have been denounced by international organizations, and corruption charges at the top levels of the government – such as his “White House” – have been handled with the same incompetence seen in the controversy over Peña-Nieto’s plagiarism of his college thesis.

Today, the president’s figure is a target for mockery and distrust. The challenge is not to mend it; it is too late now for Peña Nieto. All he has left is to, at least, leave the bubble of power that damaged him so much and take a look at the reality going on outside of Los Pinos. That, itself, would be a step forward.