Enrique Peña Nieto

President of Mexico

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  • In-Country Power
  • International Power
  • Respect
  • Military Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Special Skill: Hot tamale

Official Stats

  • Official Title: President
  • Government: Established democracy
  • Years Left in Office: To 2018: single term limit
  • Political Classification: Center-left
  • Education: BA law, MA Business
  • Age: 57 (born July 20, 1966)

Enrique Peña Nieto Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Peña is popular and well-known for his dashing looks, as is his famous actress wife Angelica Rivera; he is the JFK of Mexican politics
  • Peña comes from a well-connected family and long lineage of politicians.
  • Peña was formerly the governor of the State of Mexico from 2005-2011
  • Peña is from Mexico’s liberal-left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country for over 70 years, but has just recently re-attained the Presidency after a 12 year hiatus.
  • Mexico’s drug war policy will likely change during Peña’s term.

The Rundown


      Vamanos amigos! Time to head south of the border and find out about El Presidente down Mexico’s way…and that would be Enrique Peña Nieto… a.k.a. “Pretty Boy” Peña, “Quique”, and “Justin Bieber of the PRI” (we’ll explain that last one later). And while most Americans are blissfully clueless as to anything happening south of Texas (apart from tequila production) you should be aware that Mexico is fast becoming a regional power, a top 20 world economy, and fully developed state with tremendous pride and promise. Oh, and they are a huge ally and trading partner of the USA…which that makes all the difference! You simply have to know who is leading the states on your immediate borders if you want to be a truly engaged and educated global citizen. And it’s not bad info to possess when you go down there for Spring Break either. But I digress…so let’s press on to the power of Peña!

Peña Nieto was the oldest of four children in a middle-class family; his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a school teacher. However, Peña was born into family with political power. He is related to four former state governors. His cousin, Arturo Montiel Rojas actually took over his position as Governor of the State of Mexico following Peña’s win in the 2012 presidential election!  Alas, how did this holy guacamole-Kennedy-esque politician grow into the current face of a nation?     

As a child and teen, Peña was a sharp dresser and passionate chess player. He told his teachers that he planned to be governor of the State of Mexico. According to Peña Nieto, he became interested in politics during elementary school, when he was picked as class leader.

Enrique Peña Nieto assumed office on 1 December, 2012 as Mexico’s 57th president. He succeeded Felipe Calderón thereby marking the return to power of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that had ruled Mexican politics for 71 consecutive years….but this isn’t his first foray into an executive branch position by this career politician – not by a long shot.

From 2005 to 2011, Peña was the well-liked, stud-muffin governor of the populous State of Mexico. This popularity, along with his famously luscious locks (held in place with lime juice, according to rumor), made him the early favorite in the 2012 election against candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who also ran against Felipe Calderón, six years earlier.  While in office as a governor he gained voter favor with his claim to deliver his “compromisos” – 608 promises he signed in front of a notary to convince voters that he would deliver results and be an effective leader. The 608 projects Peña Nieto proposed consisted of creating highways, building hospitals, and creating adequate water systems to provide fresh water throughout the state. Although his administration seemed to have completed most of the projects, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) questioned the completion of at least 100 of these commitments during his 2012 presidential campaign. 

Peña’s popularity, combined with his good looks, made him the early favorite in the election. His main opponents in the presidential election were leftist Andres Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Peña ran on a platform of security and economic growth and overcame his party’s past reputation for corruption in winning the election. There was a record voter turnout when sixty-three percent of eligible voters cast their ballot.  Peña captured thirty-eight percent of the vote, beating out López Obrador’s thirty-two percent and Vázquez Mota’s twenty-five percent.  Opposing parties claimed several campaign violations by the PRI, including vote-buying and receiving extra media exposure, however in the end the results stood.  Last word on any voter fraud by Peña is currently unfounded.  It is worth noting that Andres Manuel López Obrador might just be a huge sore loser as evidenced by his refusal to also concede to the victory of Felipe Calderón in an earlier election.   

Peña is a member of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years before being replaced by the more conservative National Action Party (PAN) in 2000. In its decades of rule, PRI became synonymous with corruption, repression, economic mismanagement, and electoral fraud. Critics state that Peña is simply a charming, pretty new face for the PRI. After failing to remember the name of a famous Mexican author in an interview, he was referred to by some as the “Justin Bieber of PRI.”  Peña’s public image took more hits after he struggled to answer a question that asked which three books had marked his life. When he was criticized by Mexico’s intellectuals, his daughter worsened the situation by posting a defamatory message on Twitter, stating that the criticisms were driven by class envy and using derogatory terms against the lower economic classes. Later, Peña Nieto was interviewed by El País and admitted that he did not know the price of tortillas. When he was criticized as being out of touch, Pena Nieto insisted that he was not “the woman of the household” and thus would not know the price. In another interview, he admitted to have cheated on his past wife with another woman and fathered two children out of wedlock.  This didn’t help to keep that new president smell around either. 

However, Peña vowed to his country that under his rule, the government will be increasingly democratic, modern, and open to public criticism. Sounds good, right! Right! BUT Pena is faced with plenty of problems going into office. He basically has a lot of shit to deal with. First off…

The thing on everyone’s minds: DRUGS. This will be Peña’s biggest challenge, fighting those dang drug lords. Former president, Felipe Calderón dealt with the drug problem by targeting Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations head-on. Peña will take a different approach. Rather than focusing on taking down the head honchos of these narcotic-trafficking cartels, Pena has adopted a new security policy to defeat the drug trade in Mexico.  He declared that he and his team will use government resources to station police and military forces in towns and cities overwhelmed by homicide, kidnapping, and extortion—the nasty crimes that affect Mexican citizens.  This method differs vastly from his predecessor who took a very violent, head on approach that quite literally embodied the term “drug war.” 

Part of Peña’s strategy also consists of the creation of a national police force made up of 40,000 members, known as a “gendarmerie.” He also proposed centralizing the sub-federal police forces under one command. When it comes to intervention from the United States, Mexico’s neighbors to the north are willing to allow the United States to give instruction and training to Mexico’s military in counterinsurgency tactics. Although reducing violence sounds great to the Mexican population, Peña hasn’t really given too much detail as to how exactly he will do it, and thus many critics believe he has not been successful so far. As mentioned before, PRI ruled Mexico for 71 years before the opposing party PAN came into power. During these seventy-one years, there were many tactics of corruption and backroom deals and many are afraid that these methods of quelling violence may be returning. 

To sum it all up: the biggest difference in Peña’s policies will be his prioritization of the reduction of violence, as opposed to arresting or killing Mexico’s drug lords and seizing their drug shipments. During his campaign, Peña Nieto brazenly promised to slash murder rates in half by the end of his term.

Very different from Calderon, the reader might note… But, WHY?

I would venture out and guess that Peña was elected because of the economy. The Mexican economy took a big hit during the international crisis in 2009, and was a very important factor to voters in this election, which may be why Peña isn’t prioritizing an all-out war on the cartels.

Speaking of the economy, it needs to be stimulated. Peña Nieto has pledged to boost tax collection and open the energy industry to more private investment to help move it along. Por ejemplo, throughout his campaign, Peña Nieto proposed that he will reinvigorate the economy and permit the national oil company, Pemex, to compete in the private sector. Oil is one of Mexico’s hottest tamales (commodities). Mexico is the biggest buyer of U.S. goods sold abroad after Canada, and the U.S. in turn buys eighty percent of Mexico’s exports.

During an interview in 2011 with the Financial Times, he claimed that Pemex “can achieve more, grow more and do more through alliances with the private sector,” and placed particular interest on an economic agreement with Petrobras, Brazil’s oil company. Even though opening Pemex to the private sector would create more jobs and expand Mexico’s economy, in order to pass these policies Peña needs support from the Mexican Congress. With just over thirty-eight percent of the votes, it is unclear if he will be able to work with other parties to achieve the absolute majority needed under Mexican law to pass reforms (much less the two-thirds majority needed to change the Mexican constitution). This leaves a lot of uncertainty for investors, since Pemex, after all, was founded through the nationalization of foreign oil interests, and the Mexican constitution bans major outside investments. Changing Pemex can also transform the psychology of Mexico’s business sector and involve cultural and political changes that should not be rushed. Ever since 1938, when President Lázaro Cardenas seized foreign oil company assets to form Pemex, Mexican oil has served as a symbol of national identity.

Although Peña expresses many of his ideas in his book “México, la Gran Esperanza” (Mexico, the great hope), he hasn’t really given much detail as to how he is going to accomplish his many grand goals. The fact that he hasn’t given very many details, has also led to people all over the world question how is he really dealing with the drug cartels that have made Mexico so miserable over the past decade. Enrique Peña Nieto is someone that could be willing to take a more leftist, liberal approach when it comes to this issue.  There have been talks of Peña legalizing drugs all together to eliminate the source of profit for the cartels that wreak havoc in Mexico.  This is yet to be seen though at the moment.  However, expect to hear more on this possibility before Peña is through serving his term as head honcho. 

The US and Mexico are big allies, they’re neighbors and along with Canada are both members of NAFTA. Mexico is in a prime position for success in the world economy and the strengthening of its people’s standard of living.  President Peña is friendly with the USA and has stated that he wants to maintain and foster economic ties with Mexico’s neighbor to the north. He has urged the U.S. government to focus on education and economic growth, instead of the drug trafficking.  Mexico is in a stage of transition and it is important to keep an eye on this president because he may be defining the future of Mexico in what is likely to be a critical juncture in his nation’s development.

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