An editorial published Monday Jan. 4 by The New York Times accusing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto of “stubbornly” resisting accountability when it comes to the scandals pervading the country has prompted a quick reply from the Peña Nieto administration.
Rebuffing the paper’s claims, the Office of Mexico’s Presidency issued a yet-to-be-published letter in response to The New York Times Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal.
Paulo Carreño King, the Foreign Press and Country Brand Coordinator for Peña Nieto, stated that “accountability, in fact, has been one of the top priorities of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Administration,” according to the letter he issued to Forbes‘ Dolia Estevez.
The Times said that the Mexican leader will not be remembered as the president who accomplished a better future for Mexico — as he vowed to do during his 2012 bid for the presidency — “but as a politician who skirted accountability at every turn.”
“On Mr. Peña Nieto’s watch, the Mexican government has swiftly and systematically whitewashed ugly truths and played down scandals,” The Times wrote.
Peña Nieto, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was elected in 2012 to a six-year presidential term with 36 percent of the votes, Forbes reported. His ambitious economic agenda gained commendation from foreign media and investors. However, three years of his leadership saw decreasing popularity with his international reputation also plummeting.
The paper emphasized three major causes of Peña Nieto’s downfall: drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s prison break in July 2015, the lavish home the Mexican president built for his wife using a government contractor, and the botched government investigation into the disappearance of 43 rural students in the state of Guerrero in 2014.
The Times condemned Peña Nieto for “appointing a friend,” Secretary of Public Function Virgilio Andrade, to look into a possible conflict of interest regarding his luxury house located in a top Mexico City neighborhood. According to the paper, the investigation “not surprisingly” found “no evidence of wrongdoing by the president.”
The letter issued by the Office of Mexico’s Presidency asserted that The Times “fails to reflect the concrete actions that the Mexican government has taken in the last three years” regarding the matters it mentioned, Forbes reported. The letter also cited a number of laws and decrees signed by Peña Nieto to eliminate government corruption and advance accountability.
The text also insisted that measures were taken to investigate Guzmán’s jailbreak and the disappearance of the 43 Mexican students. The letter wrapped up by declaring that “despite our grave concern over the misrepresentations in the editorial, we do agree that Mexico still faces challenges,” Forbes added.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, new information has come to light regarding the assasination of Mayor Gisela Mota on Saturday Jan. 2, less than 24 hours after taking office.
The Morelos mayor sacrificed herself to save her family, says a report by Agence France Presse.
Mota, mayor of Temixco for less than a day, was murdered in the home where she lived with her parents after seven men stormed the house.
Her mother was about to feed Mota’s newborn nephew when the invasion occurred. The assailants were beating her parents until she “gave herself up,” said her mother, Juanita Ocampo.
But after she did so, the attackers took her into the living room and tied her up before beating her and killing her in front of her parents.
After police were called they located the suspected gunmen and engaged in a gunfight after a car chase. Two of the suspects were killed but three others were arrested.
The newspaper Reforma has reported the assassins were paid US $29,000 to kill the mayor, and that she was just one of half a dozen people on a hit list.
At least one has confessed to belonging to the criminal gang known as Los Rojos and having engaged in extortion and other murders. The newspaper Excélsior has obtained a video presumed to have recorded the confession of a young man who was among the three arrested.
More than 75 mayors have been killed in the past 10 years in Mexico, as part of criminal organizations’ intimidation campaigns. During this period, violence associated with organized crime and drug cartels has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Mexicans.
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