"Mexico is entering a new stage in its history. My promise and commitment is to carry Mexico to that place which it should occupy on the world stage" - Inauguration Day, Dec. 1, 2012
As a 2013 news maker in the Latin world, no one can compete with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. Last March, less than 90 days after he took the constitutional oath of office, the president said his goal was not merely to manage Mexico as a passing political caretaker, but to transform it. EPN's three smart decisions. He is off to a very powerful start, with 60 months left to complete the process.
To be sure, the Institutional Revolutionary Party administration didn't ace every class in its freshman year. Security challenges still beset the Republic, and the PRI government engaged in some rather transparent spin doctoring as it tried to convince the public otherwise. Economic growth went down the toilet, too, but that had far more to do with world conditions than with domestic mismanagement.
A package of significant political reforms is now part of Mexican law, and a controversial tax bill passed, but where the 47 year old chief executive shined was in the energy and education arenas (stories below).
First, Peña Nieto had the courage to stand up to a powerful and frequently violent teachers' syndicate, which is much more in the business of political extortion than in the business of educating Mexican youth. It wanted and tried to shut down public schools all over the nation until the federal government capitulated to its outrageous demands for maintenance of a corrupt status quo. But to its great credit the PRI administration held tough, demonstrating extraordinary patience in the face of many weeks of the union's occupancy of the capital city (Secret Service locks down Mexico City's Zócalo).
Soon after, EPN made history when he opened the doors of PEMEX, the decrepit, chronically cash starved 75 year old state oil monopoly, to private investment capital and foreign technical expertise. The president's energy reforms flew through the federal congress and Mexico's 32 states in record time, making the American constitutional amendment process look cumbersome and antiquated by comparison. Generations of Mexicans will benefit from the desperately needed PEMEX reforms.
The big political losers in 2013? The far Left, and its always woefully misinformed cheerleaders. They were against all major PRI reforms, advocating slavish adherence to a Mexico which had no hope of competing with the modern world. Andrés Manuel's vision for Mexico. When they lost on every issue, they pouted and threw bipartisanship overboard. Exit Stage Left: "The Pact for Mexico is dead."
In Mexico, 2013 belongs to Enrique Peña Nieto. No other political or business leader comes close.
Jan. 1, 2014 - "Mexico is a nation with an ambitious reform agenda"
"2013 will be remembered as the year Mexico finally took off"
The PRI administration patted itself on the back in this year-end propaganda clip, which features several indigenous persons speaking in native tongues. "Together, let's make history," says EPN.
What others have said about him
Dec. 10 - Foreign Policy names Peña Nieto a top Global Thinker
Nov. 3 - Forbes praises Peña Nieto's "courageous" energy policy
Apr. 18 - Enrique Peña Nieto is one of world's most 100 influential leaders - TIME
Mar. 30 - Washington Post has high praise for Enrique Peña Nieto
Energy reforms and PEMEX
Dec. 23 - Mexican energy reforms will lure in $10 billion dollars in immediate investment
Dec. 21 - Mexico's sovereign credit rating upgraded on PEMEX reform news
Dec. 20 - PEMEX reforms are now officially the law
Dec. 19 - U.S. Senate approves transborder oil exploration bill
Dec. 18 - Not much democracy in "Democratic" Revolution Party
Dec. 16 - San Luis Potosí puts PEMEX reforms over the top
Dec. 15 - Jalisco and all of Yucatán peninsula approve PEMEX reforms
Dec. 13 - Mexican states rush to endorse PEMEX reforms
Dec. 11 - Mexico's Chamber of Deputies wastes no time, approves PEMEX reforms
Dec. 11 - Mexico's PEMEX: senators open the door to foreign expertise and private capital
Dec. 10 - Mexican leftists go to court to stop PEMEX reforms
Nov. 30 - As energy reform vote approaches, PRD exits Pact for Mexico
Sept. 23 - Energy reform debate opens in Mexican Senate; warnings of foreign takeover of PEMEX
Sept. 21 - "The fix is in" on energy reform, says AMLO: new laws "designed for foreign business"
Sept. 20 - Without energy reform, Mexico will need more than half a century to reach U.S. output
Aug. 19 - Continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca
Aug. 25 - Opinion: PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers
Aug. 29 - Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike
Aug. 30 - Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate
Aug. 31 - Oaxaca freezes pay of striking teachers
Sept. 2 - Mexico's House of Deputies passes education reforms
Sept. 3 - Mexico's Senate passes education reform bill, as labor unions threaten civil disobedience
Sept. 4 - Oaxaca governor holds tough and refuses to pay dissident teachers
Sept. 4 - Teachers' union ups the ante, calling indefinite strike in Chiapas
Sept. 6 - School closings spread to Yucatán, but Peña Nieto says "there's no turning back"
Sept. 12 - Yucatán teachers fold, agree to return to the schoolhouse
Sept. 25 - "Peña Nieto completely under the control of Obama," says MORENA official
Oct. 1 - Radical teachers' syndicate returns to Mexico City streets, attacking police
Oct. 4 - Mexico City rioters caused millions in damages; PRI, PAN and PRD call for new laws
Oct. 15 - Oaxaca's governor caves to school teachers
Oct. 31 - Teachers return to Guadalajara streets, protesting alleged education privatization
Tough on corruption, too
Mar. 3 - Peña Nieto: "There are no untouchable interests; the sole interest is protecting all Mexicans"
Not everyone supported the team, but the president batted 1,000 on PRI's bold legislative agenda. These protesters in Mérida showed off their excellent command of English after Peña Nieto's July 1, 2012 election.
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