How Mexico’s president saw his approval rating plummet to 17%

Marchers in Mexico City express their displeasure with President Enrique Peña Nieto during a February protest, waving flags saying "Peña out." (Jorge Nunez/European Pressphoto Agency)
Marchers in Mexico City express their displeasure with President Enrique Peña Nieto during a February protest, waving flags saying “Peña out.” (Jorge Nunez/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Laura Tillman / Los Angeles Times

In December 2012, when Enrique Peña Nieto took office as Mexico’s president, his approval rating was 54%. It was a modest but respectable showing, considering he’d been elected from a four-candidate field with about 38% of the vote.

The central concerns in the country at that time were violence — measured in homicides, extortions and abductions often linked to drug cartels — and the economy. Peña Nieto, who was the reform candidate of the notoriously corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, promised to address these concerns and promised that his government would be transparent and accountable to the people.

Now, with Peña Nieto two-thirds of the way into his six-year term, many Mexicans believe he has failed on all fronts and been incapable of meeting the new challenge from President Trump.

His approval ratings in polls have plummeted, even falling below 20%. Though many factors drive polls, here’s a look at some of the significant events that turned public opinion against Peña Nieto:

Border wall construction contract bids open March 6

PBS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico. The agency said it will request bids on or around March 6 and that companies would have to submit “concept papers” to design and build prototypes by March 10,

Pence reiterates that Mexico will pay for wall

The Hill – Vice President Mike Pence stressed that Mexico will pay for President Trump’s proposed border wall despite Trump not reiterating the plan in his speech before Congress. Pence said during an interview with “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos: ”We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to enforce the laws of this country.”

Boll weevil: A scourge that U.S., Mexico fight together

NYT – The boll weevil is just one of the many issues that rely on bilateral cooperation between the United States and Mexico, and it embodies, in microcosm, many of the essential qualities of the broader relationship between the two countries: an alliance bordering on codependence despite economic, political and cultural differences.

Mexico might force Slim to split America Movil

Reuters – Mexico’s seven-person telecom regulations board voted on whether to toughen, maintain or loosen rules against America Movil and broadcaster Grupo Televisa, according to the three people, who declined to be named as deliberations were not public. Reuters could not confirm whether they decided to force Slim’s company to separate off part of Telmex. However, two of the sources said they expected the proposal was on the table.

How a weakened Mexico could hurt U.S.

Five Thirty Eight – President Trump has threatened to dismantle NAFTA, to build a border wall and to slap hefty tariffs on Mexican imports, all moves that could hobble Mexico’s economy. While the Trump administration might argue that these policies are more about “Making America Great Again” than hurting Mexico, there is reason for concern that they might hurt the U.S. One risk is that the policies themselves could damage the American economy, for example, through higher consumer prices and reduced trade.

SF, Mexico sign agreement to protect migrants

NBC – San Francisco leaders moved forward with their own plan to better protect all city residents. Calling it a matter of public safety, District Attorney George Gascon secured his allegiance with Mexico via a memorandum of understanding with the country’s Consulate General. It underscores the two parties’ understanding to protect and provide services to victims and witnesses of crimes, regardless of their immigration status.

U.S. judge dismisses bribery claim against Walmart

Fox News – Walmart Stores Inc. won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit accusing the world’s largest retailer of defrauding shareholders in its Walmart de Mexico unit by concealing its suspected bribery of public officials in Mexico. U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla said holders of Wal-Mex’s American depository shares cannot pursue claims that Wal-Mex’s former Chairman Ernesto Vega and Chief Executive Scot Rank knew or were reckless in not knowing about the bribery allegations.

Still no justice for Mexico’s missing students

NYT – The “disappearance” of 43 students shocked Mexico and much of the world. Earlier, the Peña Nieto administration took steps to mitigate criticism at home and from abroad over its inept handling of the case by allowing that international team, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, to investigate. Now it seems that the government doesn’t care about international criticism of its new hard line, or maybe it anticipates that there isn’t going to be much.

Mexico hot list led by resurgent Oribe Peralta

ESNfc – It’s now or never for fringe and backup options for the Mexican national team. With World Cup qualifiers set against Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago at the end of March, many aspiring members of El Tri’s roster now have only a couple of weeks left to impress manager Juan Carlos Osorio.