Not everything went fine for President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday.
When Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong delivered in writing the President’s State of the Nation report to the 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies at 5 p.m., wrath erupted among opposition parties recalling the fuel price increases in the past three months, as well as the executions of alleged cartel gunmen by the Federal Police in Tanhuato, the killings of eight civilians in Nochixtlán during a teachers’ protest, the inexistent Gross Domestic Product growth, now down to 1.7 percent for 2016, the President’s protection of highly corrupt state governors and, as the ad goes, more, much more.
But the cherry on the cake was his invitation to Donald Trump Tuesday to hear about the “beautiful wall” Trump’s going to build along the 1960-mile-long border Mexico and the United States share. Trump’s hay-day in Mexico literally outraged the nation.
“Shame on you, President” was the general outcry from Congress, except, of course, from those in the President’s own Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Later, at the National Palace, President Peña Nieto held a very unusual, in fact, the first of its kind, gringo-style town hall meeting where he met the general outrage caused by The Donald’s visit. In answering questions put in a crystal jar and picked at random by crony journalist Ezra Shabot, he had to confront and answer the obvious question about his plummeting popularity.
“Sometimes one has to make decisions that are not the most popular. I’m willing to pay for the costs of unpopularity due to some necessary decisions. I will not stand by popularity because I don’t rule the nation for it,” said Peña Nieto.
In short, the Señor Presidente told the nation “screw you” for disagreeing with me at the worst moment of his six-year term and just when his popularity — most likely — did not drop lower due to the Trump visit than it has ever been since he took office on Dec. 1, 2012.
At the National Palace town hall before 300 people, all under 35 years old, with numerous disabled people in sight, Peña Nieto went further in answering the unpopularity question asked by student Diego Gonzalez from EPN’s own State of Mexico.
“I didn’t make up my mind to seek the Presidency of the Republic to seek at all moments and at any cost to sustain myself in high popularity ratings. I decided to seek the presidency to carry out a transformation of Mexico,” he said.
And in an answer to The Donald’s statement that Mexicans will pay for the wall, “though they don’t know it yet” EPN told the town hall attendees the obvious, that Mexico will not pay for it.
Adding insult to injury in what has been probably EPN’s worst “President’s Day” in recorded history, a congressman stomped on a Peña Nieto piñata to protest the regime’s outright lack of beneficial results for the large majority of the nation.
It’d seem that EPN has become a lame duck two years before his presidential term is over on Nov. 30, 2018. He vowed at the town hall to fight for education, against poverty, human rights, you name it. All the things he did not do in the past four years.
This is a longer story but suffice it to say that this year’s Sept. 1 “President’s Day,” the nation lost its President and even if EPN will surely, and must, complete his presidential term he will do it from the bottom of the ratings.
And not thanks just to Donald Trump, but due to his own doings, that he conveniently forgot during the town hall meeting.
After the town hall was over EPN, met with his Cabinet and went to the airport to fly to Hangzhou, China, where he will participate with the Group of 20 world leaders.
Maybe a little trip will do EPN good and give the people of Mexico a chance to calm down in their anger against him and accept that even as a lame duck, he will stay his full six-year term at the helm.
There’s more, but surely EPN will not forget Thursday as President of Mexico. And indeed the man was not smiling and, regardless of denial, he is truly worried about his unpopularity and the fact that he can’t blame “the Trump mistake” for all of it.
What a day!