As you probably know, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has invited Donald Trump to a meeting today in Mexico City. It’s hard to fathom Peña Nieto’s motives for this invitation, except maybe to distract attention away from his plagiarism scandal. The Twitter-verse has been having a field day with the news. Here are some of my favorites from this morning (I’m sure there will be more):
Good news coming out of Canada yesterday for Mexico. The Canadian government has dropped visa requirements for Mexicans visiting the country (and Mexico, in turn, has agreed to lift its ban on Canadian beef).
The highlight for me was the photo op of the two leaders jogging together. Here’s one photo:
I wonder how presidents decide what to wear for such occasions. The black short shorts are an interesting touch. Hey EPN, the 70s called and they want their short shorts back!
At least no one is accusing el Presidente of putting his socks on backwards this time (the hilarious Sockgate scandal from last August).
Mexicans have taken to expressing their displeasure with their President by turning him into a piñata, or as it is popularly called, a Peñata. I’m guessing this is not how EPN envisioned his image at the end of 2014.
This post gives a very helpful instruction sheet on how to make your own personal Peñata
along with some wonderful examples. Here are a couple of my favorites:
My goodness, who in the world is advising EPN these days? First he says nothing about the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, seemingly believing that this would be one more massacre that would be swept under the rug. Then, after it becomes clear that this might be a true watershed moment in Mexico (and people are actively calling for his resignation), he heads to China. And what does he do in China? He gets photographed digging a hole with a shovel. I know all the leaders were supposed to take part in this diplomatic inanity, but really, a shovel? When one mass grave after another is uncovered in Mexico?
Does the photo make you think he is digging his own grave? or perhaps uncovering another mass grave? or trying to hide another? Either way it’s really no good on the PR front. This is starting to remind me of Carlos Salinas rise and fall. Darling of the international press and Wall Street (not so much at home), enacting huge economic reforms that many thought impossible, followed by a giant slide into ignominy. Maybe there is an extra room in Salinas’ house in Ireland to help a fellow Priista in trouble…
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made huge progress in his first two years. Reforms have been passed opening up the sacred cow that is Pemex, taking on the very strong teachers’ union, and reducing the power of some of the big monopolies in Mexico (owned by some of the richest people in the country, and in the case of Carlos Slim, the world).
All of this activity hasn’t increased his popularity much though. The public is rightly skeptical of how much enforcement there will be of the reforms, economic growth is much slower than the government predicted, there is still a good swath of the population that doesn’t want Pemex opened up to foreign investment, and there are still huge problems with the narcos and security in general. EPN’s popularity has fallen from 49% to 43% in recent months.
Yesterday was the Segundo Informe of the EPN Presidency, which is the state of the nation talk the President gives every year. The government also released a slick new video of the president championing his reforms and Mexico in general, along with hugging old ladies and patting kids on the heads. Here is a version dubbed in English. I always find politicians’ campaign videos embarrassingly (and unintentionally) funny, but this one is a doozy in my opinion.
EPN should have paid attention to some other minor matters though, like turning the main public square (the Zócalo) into a parking lot for the 5 hours of his address. Presidential assistants were allowed to park their cars in the Zócalo, using it as free and convenient parking, thus creating huge headaches for traffic and business downtown. How many assistants does the President have? How many are needed for him to give a speech downtown? EPN has been so roundly criticized for this that he has already issued a public apology on his webpage. Here is a picture of how not to win friends and voters in the capital: