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Year One of Mexico's Peña Nieto Administration

Toma de Posesión de Enrique Peña Nieto, 1 de diciembre del 2012. Foto compartida por Cancillería de Ecuador en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto, December 1, 2012. Photo shared by Ecuador's Foreign Ministry on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

[Links are to Spanish-language pages unless otherwise indicated.]

December 1, 2013, marks the first year since Mexico's PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party [en], regained executive power in the person of its candidate Enrique Peña Nieto [en]. The PRI was favoured in the elections of June 2012 ending two six-year terms by the National Action Party (PAN) [en], headed first by Vicente Fox and then Felipe Calderón.

It was during the second of these presidencies that a ‘war’ on organized crime was declared and an upsurge in violence occurred, a story which was covered extensively [en] by Global Voices.

After 365 days, the balance sheet of Enrique Peña Nieto government is reflected in the comments of journalists and citizens. Ciro Gómez Leyva referred to it in the following way:

El gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto ha sido incapaz de mejorar los dos temas más sensibles para los ciudadanos. No hay más empleos bien pagados. No hay más seguridad y tranquilidad. La economía sigue empantanada. La actividad criminal sigue incontenible.

The government of Enrique Peña Nieto has been unable to improve the two most pressing issues for citizens. There are no new well-paid jobs. We are not at peace nor any safer. The economy is stagnating. Criminal activity continues unabated.

With respect to the disagreements generated by reforms proposed—and in some cases enacted—by the PRI, the journalist points out that:

Ni el país político, pues, es tan terso, ni se ha podido acreditar la imagen de un gobierno eficaz, resuelto, tolerante.

El balance tiene que ser desilusionante. Sobre todo por la expectativa que el propio gobierno supo producir en el empiece.

The political landscape isn't any smoother, nor has the government been able to portray itself as efficient, determined, tolerant.

The assessment remains disappointing. Most of all because of the expectation that the government created at the outset.

J. Jesús Esquivel, in the weekly publication Proceso, emphasized the missive from the regional director of Human Rights Watch to Enrique Peña Nieto, in which the latter admonished that the violation of human rights remains a constant problem on Mexican soil:

El director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, envió una carta al presidente Enrique Peña Nieto en la que le dice que en su primer año de gobierno no ha mostrado avances significativos “en la investigación de abusos del pasado” y sí, por el contrario, se han detectado “nuevas violaciones graves de derechos humanos con impunidad”.

Con un lenguaje claro y conciso, Vivanco agrega en la misiva:

“A casi un año de gobierno, el cambio en su estrategia de derechos humanos continúa siendo, en gran medida, exclusivamente retórico”.

Además, recuerda a Peña Nieto que cuando asumió la presidencia, el país estaba sumido en una crisis de derechos humanos, con un ambiente de impunidad “casi absoluto” en esta materia.

The director of Human Rights Watch's Americas Division, José Miguel Vivanco, sent a letter to President Peña Nieto in which he says that in his first year in office, he has not “demonstrated meaningful progress in investigating past abuses,” and, on the contrary, “serious new violations continue to take place with impunity.”

In clear and precise terms, Vivanco adds:

“One year on, the shift in your approach to human rights remains largely confined to rhetoric.”

In addition, he reminds Peña Nieto that when he assumed the presidency, the country was experiencing a human rights crisis in an atmosphere of “almost absolute” impunity.

Rafael Cabrera writing for Animal Político signaled civil society's dissatisfaction with Peña Nieto's governance with respect to public security:

Foto compartida por Alex Torres en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo shared by Alex Torres on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

El Gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto no tiene ningún éxito que presentar a los ciudadanos en materia de seguridad, a unos días de cumplir su primer año, señalaron ayer representantes de la sociedad civil.

Al presentar el miércoles 26 de noviembre el reporte mensual del Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano (ONC), organismo que analiza la información del Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP), Alejandro Martí, Edna Jaime, Isabel Miranda de Wallace y Francisco Rivas, entre otros, señalaron que las cifras que da el Gobierno no son del todo confiables y tampoco hay una política clara en cuanto a seguridad.

Only days from marking its first year, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has no success to boast of to his citizens in the matter of public security, representatives of civil society noted yesterday.

On November 26, Alejandro Martí, Edna Jaime, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, Francisco Rivas and other members of the National Citizens’ Observatory (ONC), an organization that analyzes information from the System of National Public Security, a division of Mexico's Department of the Interior, presented a report indicating that the figures provided by the government are not at all reliable and that there is no clear policy regarding security. 

Cabrera took up the expression used by the activist Alejandro Martí (@Alejandro_Marti), who argued that public security should be the central theme of the administration to prevent the current level of violence from persisting until the end of Peña Nieto's mandate:

Para Alejandro Martí, en el primer año de Peña Nieto aún no se pueden dar respuestas contundentes: “Esperemos que el próximo año se le dé a la seguridad la misma importancia que otras reformas, y que sea el tema de Estado. Si el próximo año la seguridad no es el tema central, vamos a acabar el sexenio igual”.

For Alejandro Martí, at the end of Peña Nieto's first year, there are still no concrete answers. “We hope that next year public security will be given the same order of importance as other reforms, and that it will be the focus of the government. If next year, security is not the central theme, this term will end exactly where it began.”

In addition to the issue of violence and insecurity not being adequately addressed, Peña Nieto's PRI administration has shown iself to be, until now, in favour of proposing (and even approving) controversial reforms, such as those in education and energy, as well as one not as commented on but no less important: the reform of the articles of the constitution in respect of transparency and access to information. 

Opinions about Peña Nieto's first year were also visible on Twitter; user eduardoernesto (@huchimgamboa) referred to the economic approach:

#EPN government fails 1st year in #economics; lower than expected growth (#OECD: from 3.4 to 1.2%) and #Banxico announces a huge deficit

Alejandro Rodríguez (@alexdom1) referred to the “Pact for Mexico” launched by Peña Nieto at the start of his mandate. Said pact was promoted by the President among the three main political parties in order to foster the appearance of unity, in contrast to the rampant animosity that had characterized the political scene. It is within the framework of the pact, that some of the major reform proposals were raised. 

The “big achievement” by #EPN, on the #PactoPorMéxico, was in effect for one year. This is a clear example of how inefficient he is as a leader. 

As is to be expected, not all comments were critical of Peña Nieto's administration. Claudia Martínez (@ClauMart_) referred to the President's team this way:

The team of President #EPN is committed to working for Mexicans, this is a nice change to begin with. 

In the same way Raúl Garduño (@kiffuri) showed his goodwill towards the executive branch, regarding the proposed reforms:

@EPN I recognize your powers of persuasion, you have the chance to change history for the better, success! 

Unchecked violence, social unrest, and cuestionable legal reforms seem to be the results of the first year of Enrique Peña Nieto's government, judging from the comments by Mexico's electorate. It is not surprising in a country whose social fabric has been torn apart with impunity by the corruption and abuses of the political class that there should be so much work left to do.

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