Reprinted with permission from The Pan-American Post
It took a couple of days after returning from his Asia tour last week for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to find his bearing and counter the wave of criticism and corruption allegations he has received of late. Yesterday, the president came out swinging against recent anti-government protests, condemning an alleged “destabilization” effort against him and dismissing reports that his wife’s acquisition of a home was linked to companies bidding on a lucrative rail contract.
Speaking at a women’s health event in Mexico state yesterday, El Universal reports the president directly addressed the recent demonstrations for the first time since his return. News site Animal Politico has the full text of the leader’s remarks. According to Peña Nieto, the wave of protests in the country appeared to be part of an “orchestrated effort to destabilize the country” and halt his administration’s policies.
“We have seen these violent movements that intend use the shield of sorrow as cover to carry out protests; protests which at times do not have a clear goal. It would seem that they respond to an interest in generating destabilization, creating social disorder, and above all, threatening the national project that we have been promoting,” Peña Nieto, said. He also claimed that outrage against him is misguided, as his administration has been among “the most sensitive to the issue, the most supportive” of the parents of the missing 43 students of Ayotzinapa. Many of the parents might disagree, however, as several have expressed repeated doubts about the federal investigation into the incident to the press.
The president’s statement was followed later in the day by another from his wife Angélica Rivera. In a YouTube video posted on her website, the first lady said she would sell the controversial property that linked the Peña Nieto family to a company that has won lucrative government contracts. Still Rivera denied allegations of wrongdoing, saying she had been in the process of paying the house off with money obtained during her 25-year acting career.
These statements offer the first glimpse of how the president is aiming to lessen the public outrage that has boiled over in recent weeks. Particularly telling is the fact that Peña Nieto made no mention of the overwhelmingly non-violent protests, lumping all dissent into the category of “violent opponents of reform.” This suggests that a concrete proposal to fight corruption or reform the rule of law in the country — as many international and domestic civil society advocates have called for — is likely off the table for now.
Continue reading at The Pan-American Post…