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Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
I’m trying!
PURE INTENTIONS

President Peña Nieto assures Mexicans he doesn’t wake up everyday thinking about “how to screw Mexico”

Ana Campoy
By Ana Campoy

Latin America reporter

The critics seem to be getting to Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto.

This week, the Mexican president felt compelled to defend his recent performance: “My only purpose is for Mexico to do well,” he said Oct. 25, during a conference (link in Spanish) organized by Mexican newspaper El Financiero and Bloomberg. “I don’t think a president wakes up… thinking, and pardon me for saying it, how to screw Mexico.”

He lamented the media’s focus on negative developments, adding that he sometimes instructs advisers to include some good news among the barrage of bad ones they deliver to him daily. He also asked attendees to speak well of their country.

It was a particularly candid moment for a president who has tended to downplay criticism by an increasingly demanding—and irreverent—citizenry. (Unflattering Peña Nieto memes (Spanish) have practically become a national pastime.)

Lately, bad news has been piling up. Over the summer, it was discovered that the president plagiarized his law school thesis. Then came the awkward and unpopular visit to Mexico by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the end of August. Javier Duarte, the ex-governor of the state of Veracruz and a member of Peña Nieto’s party, went on the run last week after being charged with racketeering and money laundering. Meanwhile, the disappearance of 43 college students, along with thousands of other cases, remains unsolved.

Peña Nieto’s approval ratings have plummeted over recent months.

Rather than helping his case, the president’s latest comments seem to have worsened it. Political observers and cartoonists are having a ball both with Peña Nieto’s notion that he’s not out to screw Mexico, and his choice of words. The Spanish translation of screw, joder, is a vulgar term in Mexico.

“Feeling relieved that EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto] doesn’t wake up thinking how to screw Mexico,” reads this tweet.

“Of course no president wakes up thinking how to screw Mexico. Those things are planned with time,” reads another one.

“Could it be the mattress that pushes them to #screwmexico?” asks another.

Naturally, all the jokes will make it even harder for Mexicans to listen to the president’s plea to think positive.

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