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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More from Julio Morales


  • President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador needs to make his presidency a turning point in Mexican history. If he does nothing and continues to allow Mexico on the path that it is on, Mexico may reach a point of no return; if this occurs, then Mexico will be in a state of perpetual unrest, which would further detriment any plans towards peace. It is sad to know that the most recent president, Enrique Pena Nieto, was unable to capitalize on any of his promises to end violence and corruption. instead, while on his watch as president, 43 students went missing and have yet to be found, with many believing that they may have been murdered to protect the image of a mayor. This is a tragedy and needs to be fixed; let’s hope President Obrador is successful.

  • I appreciate how accurate this explains the many problems the people of Mexico face in their everyday lives. People assume the worst in families trying to cross over to the United States for a better lifestyle, but can you blame them? Even their president was corrupt and let them down. Having family just across the border, I know the good side of the beautiful country but also know the ugly. I strongly agree there has to be some major changes done to give the people hope in a better life for their families and next generation coming into the world. I wish nothing but the best for this country and can only pray their next president can be a person of their word and help the country come out from these terrible situations.

  • “Mexico me dueles” Its a famous phrase used by many Mexicans (including my self) that means: “Mexico I’m suffering for you” by reading this article remains me of how much it frustrate me seeing and hearing the people on my country agonize day by day because of the lack of justice, empowerment and dignity that is not reinforce by the Mexican government. I lived fifteen years of my life in Veracruz, Mexico. One of the states that Governor Duarte oversee It was a shame to my people and to many seeing the way he exploited and stole from his own kind. Yet i have the courage to say that it’s not only the government fault. Because the people allowed corruption on it’s own benefit also are ignorant in it’s own history and we all know the saying : “The people who forget their history are doomed to repeat”

  • It is truly sad to see how Mexico has become in the past decade. I live on the bottom border of Texas where Mexico is right on the other side and we can’t even cross anymore because of all the violence and corruption we hear about everyday. President Enrique Peña Nieto promised the Mexican citizens to end all crime and corruption, however he has not showed any sign of this to his country. I agree with the statement towards the end of article. For change to happen in Mexican, workers such as law enforcement and military do need to get paid a higher salary so that they will not take bribes from Mexican citizens especially the ones from the cartel. Mexico has led this problem to go on to far, however they need to put a stop to this before all of Mexico will be corrupt.

  • I think one thing that blows my mind after reading this article is that after Enrique Peña Nieto was elected he was put on the cover of TIME magazine for Feb. 24, 2014. The piece on him talked about how his sweeping reforms will save Mexico, and as your article points out those reforms never happened and now the situation in Mexico is more dire than ever. I agree that there needs to be major changes implemented but the question is how can it be done? It’s tragic to think that just across the border students and politicians trying to fix the issues are persecuted, kidnapped and even murdered. Definitely helps me to appreciate even more how blessed we are as Americans. Here’s to hoping that the next presidency will deliver the help to the Mexican people that they deserve.

  • From the first time I went to Mexico, the corruption became apparent. For example, if someone is stopped by a police officer they can simply pay them off. This corruption occurs because the person that should be the most honest, the president, is the most unethical. As the article mentioned, the government does not provide its people with livable wages or even opportunities for an education and this is reflected by the corrupt actions of government employees and even the citizens. The reality is that in order for there to be a change a leader has to be willing to put an end to the legacy of corruption.

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador brings a sense of hope to the citizens of Mexico. After running for president 2 times Lopez Obrador is a symbol of hope for the people of Mexico who have been wanting change for several years. This article efficiently highlights the corruption and violence the people of Mexico have faced over the years even within the Mexican government at the local and the federal level. Obradors campaign has emphasized the end of corruption as well as the end of corporate favoritism. As well as fixing the economy which is crucial to the people of Mexico. This article presents the problems that Mexico has been facing over decades and the failed attempts of Pena Nieto’s to fix the country.

  • I loved how detailed this article is like I knew Mexico was a bad place to go by yourself especially if your a female. Instead of the people wanting the next president to stop the violence why don’t they focus on putting their children in school longer. If they go to school and get an education that’s a ticket out of there and onto more better things. The next president should focus on the people and the poverty that they have then stop the violence because it sounds like the whole government is going to need to be inspected all the way. That’s going to take years of hard work to find the dirty people in the government compared to helping the people.

  • Sadly, it is very common in Latin American countries to have problems in politics. There is always a collective discontent towards the government. This discontent doesn’t come out of nowhere, the huge gap between social classes and the evident corruption leave people unsettled. Hopefully Mexico will have and improvement when the people choose someone they want to be represented by.

  • This article gives very good insight on the kind of country Mexico is today. Violence and poverty play a big role in those citizens life in that the cartels basically run the entire country with many of the families of Mexico barely surviving with little income. Children are reciting to joining gangs becoming what are known as “mules”, basically living their life transporting drugs to receive cash from gangs. The gangs are very dangerous, turning your back against them will lead to the death of either a family member or yourself. There’s only one way to escape the living conditions in Mexico and that’s by joining a gang or trying to cross the border into the United States. Even if a migrant were to try and leave the country, there’s a slim to none chance you’ll make it across the border. Walking hundreds of miles through the hot desert with little water is a recipe for disaster, if someone does manage to make it to the border they still have to get past Border Patrol, if not, the whole journey was a waste of time. Mexico needs a lot of changes and I believe it starts with putting the families of Mexico first.

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