Tomorrow Mexicans will again take to the streets in mass protest against the disappearance of the 43 students, the government response, absence of justice and indignation towards the Mexican state. Pressure is surely mounting on president Peña Nieto, including in the form of this article I have translated into English below. The original from the Mexican magazine Proceso can be found here.
Since he was the governor of the State of Mexico and now as president, Enrique Peña Nieto has tried to hide – placing the blame onto others – several scandals from his political and family life which, with the passing of time, have become a burden, a dark side to his career, which like a shadow follows him everywhere he goes and keeps growing bigger and bigger until it overtakes the original figure.
From memory, one can recall at least three episodes that tarnish his political and personal biography and expose him as the complicated figure he is rather than the translucent image which has been created on the basis of a marketing strategy in which everything is carefully staged, up to the make-up he uses in public events.
The first of these episodes involves his uncle Arturo Montiel, who he succeeded in the position of governor of the State of Mexico. In October 2005, when he was seeking presidential candidacy, his opponent Roberto Madrazo accused him of suspected embezzlement and investment of more than 6 million dollars in several properties in Mexico, France and Spain. In an ad hoc investigation, Peña Nieto as governor cleared him of all responsibility in an attempt to cover up the scandal.
Later, in January 2007 the case of the death of his wife, under questionable circumstances, appeared. The irresponsibility of Peña Nieto was highlighted as he did not take her for immediate medical attention when she suffered an epileptic seizure. Despite Peña Nieto being the leader of the State, it was a long time before she was attended to. First she was taken to the medical centre of the Mexico State Social Security Institute located in Metepec and hours later by ambulance to ABC Hospital in Mexico City where she passed away.
Later came the Atenco case in May 2007. Peña Nieto displayed a firm police hand to resolve a social conflict created by the government of Vicente Fox with a project to build a new airport on community land in the town. The repression resulted in the arrest of 207 people, arbitrary detention of 146, deportation of five foreigners and complaints against elements of the police for alleged sexual abuse and rape of 26 women.
Previously, there was the case of Paulette Gebara Farah, a four year old girl who disappeared on March 22 2010 in Interlomas and whose corpse was found 10 days later between the blankets in her bed. The investigation was so poorly done that Peña Nieto and his justice team, Alfreo Castillo and Alberto Bazbaz Sacal, were accused of hiding the true culprits of the girl’s death because they were part of the Mexico State government.
At the end of its term, the femicides showed another dark side of the Peña Nieto government. Despite the high incidence of the murder of women, almost one thousand from 2005 to 2010, the request from social organisations to establish a gender alert in Mexico State was rejected in 2011 in a meeting of the National System for Prevention, Care, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women. PRI governments supported the argument of the Mexico State Council for Women and Social Wellbeing that it was a strategy designed to damage the image of Enrique Peña Nieto, governor of the state, in the lead-up to the Mexican federal elections of 2012.
The presidential campaign spending of Peña Nieto is yet another of the dark sides of his political and personal career. When his uncle Montiel was discovered with an unexplainable wealth, Peña was left with a 346 million peso contract with Televisa to make him an attractive media figure. It included marriage to Angélica Rivera, articles and interviews and an electoral campaign carried out on the television screen.
On November 27 2010 Peña Nieto and the soap opera actress Angélica Rivera, known as the seagull, wed but before the nuptials there were prenuptial agreements concerned with maintenance and housing. The at the time presidential aspirant had a series of relationships with various women, some already with children as in the case of Martiza Díaz Hernández and Yessica de La Madrid who worked in public relations at Televisa.
In the wake of such tempestuous stories came the revelation of the “White House” scandal belonging to the actress Angélica Rivera and valued at 86 million pesos. It was built across two blocks of land, one donated by Televisa and the other acquired in ‘instalments’ from the friend of Peña and owner of the Higa Group construction company. This company is owned by the businessman Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú. He also leased aeroplanes to PRI for the 2012 presidential campaign through the subsidiary Eolo Plus and carried out million dollar public works in the State of Mexico when Peña Nieto was governor.
The financing of his campaign through the triangulation of millions of pesos through the Monex Bank is another of the dark episodes of Peña Nieto’s political trajectory which today is further tarnished by the biggest governance and human rights crisis faced by recent governments.
The most recent episodes which can be added to Peña’s political and personal scandals are the cases of Tlatlaya and Ayotzinapa which reflect not only the incapacity to govern but also the impossibility of hiding the involvement of the army in both cases. These cases today have his government at the peak of its worst political crisis.
In the face of the crisis that his government is experiencing and the mobilisation of thousands of Mexicans who are tired of the absence of justice, Peña argues that those protesting want to destabilise his government and he uses this as a means of justifying a possible repression. If that happens there will be fatal consequences and it will turn into the darkest chapter of his political and personal life.