May 19, 2018
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
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
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.
43 missing students
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Enrique Pena Nieto
The recent history of Mexico has saddened me. With my family being from Coahuila, there was a period of time where we couldn’t go because of how dangerous it was. People such as Peña Nieto are the main reason why Mexico has become a safe haven for criminals but a death zone for civilians. Julio Morales did a great job describing the history of Peña Nieto’s reign as President, highlighting the personal purchase of a mansion with government money as evidence of his corruption while also giving the reader a few solutions to problems faced in the politically corrupt country. Hopefully, now with a humble Lopez Obrador as President, Mexico should be going in for some drastic changes, while Peña Nieto is evading arrest from the Mexican government.