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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Person of the week
Mexican president mired in protests, house scandal
     2014-November-21  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has been hit with fresh allegations over the ownership of his personal residence in Mexico City.

MEXICAN President Enrique Pena Nieto has a slogan, “Moving Mexico,” but his government is stuck in a wave of protests over a presumed student massacre and an uproar over his wife’s mansion.

    For almost two years, things appeared to be smooth sailing, with the passage of historic economic reforms that won Pena Nieto international praise as he sought to move the narrative away from the drug war.

    But he is now scrambling to put out burning scandals that have mired him in the biggest crisis of his presidency, and analysts say a way out is for him to confront the corruption plaguing Mexico.

    The suspected murder of 43 college students by a drug gang allied with crooked police in the southern state of Guerrero has shown that Mexico has yet to awaken from its nightmare of unrelenting violence.

    Protesters have burned government buildings in a series of demonstrations over authorities’ handling of the case. A new march will take place in Mexico City today.

    “It’s the deepest and most delicate crisis that Mexico has seen in recent decades, without a clear exit,” Nicolas Lazo, political analyst at the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty, told Agence France-Presse.

    To top it all, the president is now dealing with allegations of conflict of interest following reports that his wife bought a multimillion-dollar house in a posh Mexico City neighborhood from a government contractor.

    Pena Nieto broke from his usual cool demeanor Nov. 18, appearing visibly angry as he railed against “falsehoods” about the mansion bought by his wife, former soap opera star Angelica Rivera.

    He also lashed out at the violent protests, saying they appeared to be an attempt to destabilize the country and derail his “national project.”

    Seeking to quell the scandal, Rivera said she will sell the US$4 million property and Pena Nieto decided to make all of his assets public.

    In a video posted on her website Tuesday night, Rivera said that after a 25-year acting career, she received a payment from Televisa, a Mexican multimedia mass media company, in 2010 that included a house.

    She added that she decided to buy a neighboring property and signed a contract with a real estate agency for 54 million pesos (about US$4 million) for eight years at an interest rate of 9 percent. She said she had paid off about 30 percent so far.

    “I have nothing to hide,” Rivera said. She said that in addition to the house, Televisa gave her more than 88.6 million pesos.

    “The issue of the house worsens this loss of trust. It hurts the president,” said Erubiel Tirado, a political analyst at Iberoamerican University.

    The house was built and owned by a subsidiary of Grupo Higa, a government contractor that was part of a Chinese-led consortium that won a US$3.7 billion deal to build Mexico’s first lightspeed railway.

    But days before the report about the mansion came out, Pena Nieto abruptly revoked the railway contract. The government denies the cancelation was linked to the upcoming report.

    Pena Nieto said Wednesday he will reveal the details of all of his assets.

    After praising his wife for sharing how she got the Mexico City mansion from a company that has government contracts, Pena Nieto said he will make all of his assets public even though the law doesn’t require it.

    “Following what my wife has done, I have decided to make public the whole of my financial disclosure statement, because as president I appreciate and value more the confidence of Mexicans than the right to confidentiality as a public servant,” he said during a visit to the western state of Michoacan.

    Pena Nieto has reported the amount of his income and the number of houses and properties, but not the details.

    For example, according to his financial disclosure, he has four houses, four lots and an apartment. Except for saying he sold two houses, he has said only that he inherited an apartment and that he received the other properties as “donations,” without revealing under what circumstances or who gave them.

    He did not say when he would make the further details public.

    A few hours before Pena Nieto spoke Wednesday, presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez insisted there was no conflict of interest in the purchase of the mansion.

    Sanchez said on MVS Radio that the first lady is not a public servant and thus not authorized to sign government contracts. He said the company tied to the mansion is just one of more than 4,000 companies that have received public contracts.

    “Such a conflict does not exist,” he said of the case.

    While the media have jumped on the story, the opposition has been surprisingly quiet about the mansion, likely because it is not immune to corruption.

    “The silence has been thunderous,” wrote Milenio newspaper columnist Carlos Puig. “The Mexican tragedy is partly rooted in what unites our parties, the ease with which they have been corrupted when they get positions of power.”

    The leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has been wounded by allegations that its mayor in the southern city of Iguala ordered the police force to confront a group of trainee teachers Sept. 26.

    Prosecutors say the officers whisked away 43 students and delivered the young men to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, whose members confessed to murdering them and incinerating their bodies.

    The conservative National Action Party, which held the presidency between 2000 and 2012, has faced its own scandals and criticism over then president Felipe Calderon’s decision to deploy troops against drug cartels in 2006.

    Activists say the crisis offers an opportunity to finally confront the corruption and impunity at the root of the country’s ills.

    Juan Francisco Torres, secretary general of the nongovernmental organization Mexico United Against Crime, said protests are not the only key to securing changes, which Pena Nieto has yet to offer.

    “It’s not enough to show that you’re fed up. You also have to show the authorities the road they need to take,” Torres said.

    In 2004, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Mexico City against a wave of kidnappings and violence, he said.

    “It was an emblematic event but it was short-lived,” he said. “Ten years later, we see that it was not enough.”

    (SD-Agencies)

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