During Mexico’s 2012 presidential election, opponents of then-candidate Enrique Peña Nieto warned that the young governor’s election would spell the return of the old-guard cronyism of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Yet as president, Peña Nieto has taken nearly the opposite course, assembling a cabinet of young PRI technocrats and members of rival parties. And in recent weeks he has mustered his centrist government into mounting an assault against Mexico’s entrenched monopolies.
In February, Peña Nieto signed into law a bill to give the state more control over the hiring and firing of teachers. Days later, Elba Esther Gordillo, the all-powerful head of the country’s teachers union and the main obstacle to implementation of the law, was arrested on charges of embezzling some $160 million. A dramatic shake-up of the country’s secondary education system was underway.
Then, in early March, Peña Nieto moved against Mexico’s telecoms. As part of a bill that beckons foreign players into the Mexican market, the president proposed the creation of a strong new regulatory agency to encourage competition in a sector where one firm holds more than 50 percent of the market.