Mexico’s Pena Nieto takes power, begins new era for old ruling party



REUTERS

Published — Sunday 2 December 2012

Last update 1 December 2012 9:46 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MEXICO CITY: Enrique Pena Nieto took over as Mexican president yesterday, offering a shot at redemption for the party that shaped modern Mexico if he can bring about an end to years of violence and economic underperformance.
Returning the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power after a 12-year hiatus, the 46-year-old Pena Nieto aims to use a recent improvement in the economy’s fortunes to spark faster growth.
Shortly after midnight at the national palace, outgoing President Felipe Calderon formally transferred power to his successor, handing over a red, white and green national flag to Pen a Nieto and saluting him.
“Today I begin to exercise the honorable office of president,” said Pena Nieto, who then swore in his top security ministers.
Pockets of protesters from leftist groups skirmished with police in riot gear in the capital hours later, some throwing Molotov cocktails at barriers near Congress in a bid to disrupt a swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address due later on Saturday morning.
Former State of Mexico governor Pena Nieto won the July 1 election with about 38 percent of the vote, more than 6 points ahead of second-placed leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Telegenic and married to a popular actress, Pena Nieto promises to restore calm after more than 60,000 people were killed in violence between drug gangs and security forces during the six-year term of his conservative predecessor.
“Unfortunately, this has been something which has made or formed the image of Mexico in the world,” Pena Nieto said during a trip to Europe in October. “That’s why there’s no doubt dealing with lawlessness more effectively is a priority.” He says he is committed to the fight against organized crime, which dominated Calderon’s presidency, but has also stressed his main goal is to reduce the violence.
The new president’s right-hand man, Luis Videgaray, and close political ally Miguel Angel Osorio Chong will be the two key figures in his cabinet, running the finance and interior ministries respectively. Having helped shepherd a labor reform through Congress since his election victory, Pena Nieto now wants to pass legislation to strengthen Mexico’s tax base and allow more private investment in lumbering state oil giant Pemex.
If he is successful, the reforms could help spur stronger growth and create jobs, blunting the allure of organized crime.
Like many of Mexico’s best-known institutions, Pemex was a creation of the PRI, which ruled for 71 uninterrupted years until it was voted out in 2000. By then, the party had become a byword for corruption, cronyism and vote rigging.

Annual economic growth averaged less than 2 percent under the National Action Party, or PAN, over the past 12 years. That record and growing worries over the drug war violence opened the door for a PRI comeback under Pena Nieto.
Still, inflation has been kept in check, debt levels are low and growth picked up toward the end of Calderon’s term, with the economy outperforming Brazil’s in the past two years.
“Maintaining that stability is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the next government,” said Phillip Hendrix, 44, a Mexican businessman.
Pena Nieto’s inner circle features several ambitious young economists and financial experts eager to prove the PRI can do a better job of managing Latin America’s second-biggest economy.
For much of the PRI’s reign, Mexico enjoyed stronger growth than the PAN mustered, but memories of default on the country’s debts in 1982 and a financial crash in 1994 and 1995 still linger.
“It’s very hard to believe in the PRI. They bankrupted Mexico,” said construction worker Jose Luis Mendoza.
Supporting a family of four on 1,300 pesos ($100) a week, Mendoza, 29, said he was worse off now than when Calderon took office, and doubted his life would improve under Pena Nieto. “The cost of everything has gone up — but my wage hasn’t,” he said.
Pena Nieto has pledged to put more money in Mexicans’ pockets and shake up competition in a country where large swaths of the economy are concentrated in the hands of a few, like telecom billionaire Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man.
But Pena Nieto has been vague so far about how he plans to create a more level playing field, and pollster Jorge Buendia said it would be foolish to expect radical change.
“Pena Nieto’s not a reformist guy. He never has been,” Buendia said. “He’s an establishment guy and I don’t think he’s going to rock the establishment that much.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has been awarded a top international prize for his contribution to the propagation of the Qur’an.He was named the “Islamic Personality of the Year” by the Holy Qur’an International Memorization Or...
JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier, minister of defense and chairman of the Economic Affairs and Development Council, held a meeting in Jeddah on Monday with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, deputy national security advis...

Stay Connected

Facebook