His suit is baggy; his face is saggy. He’s missed a lot of scheduled appearances. It’s apparent that the president of Mexico is not a well man. But there’s no official word as to what’s troubling him. So unofficial word will have to do, and the rumors abound:
It isn’t true, as the official bulletin claims, that in the early-morning hours of Friday, June 26, he began to feel abdominal pains and wound up in surgery at the Central Military Hospital.
Already on Thursday afternoon, at the latest, it was announced that he would not be appearing at Bellas Artes to inaugurate an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. The reason? No one would say.
A little later, Los Pinos announced that the journalists of the presidential news service would not be covering his visit to Guatemala. Reason? Again, no one was saying, but it was obvious that, much earlier that morning, Enrique Peña Nieto was already considering cancelling the tour.
So he was not suffering a “sudden” illness, but the consequences of something which has been hidden from us. “Peña Nieto often enters and exits the Central Military Hospital,” a doctor told me last week. “He’s receiving chemotherapy. The nodule they removed from his thyroid [on July 31, 2013] was malignant, and now there are metastases. It’s gone into his liver.”
Liver cancer? “His eyes are yellowish, his face looks sunken, it’s in his bones,” my informant explained. “He has from now until December to bring out the necessary reforms, because after that, he won’t even be able to stand up.”
We hear such things every day. However, when a concrete fact appears, speculation makes sense. Where did they allegedly operate on his gallbladder? In the Central Military Hospital, where, according to my source, he is receiving periodic chemotherapy.
Where is the news of yesterday’s operation? Why don’t they show us video of the surgery, photos of the removed gallbladder? Several newspaper headlines from two days ago read: “Peña Nieto rushes through Social Security reforms”. Rush? Someone’s in a rush? Why, if his six-year term of office ends in December of 2018?
“Peña Nieto urges cabinet members to redouble efforts to formalize reforms in progress”, was the headline in several media yesterday, at the same time as the president’s gallbladder was under the knife, according to the vague and dubious official bulletin.
If one googles “Peña Nieto cancels visit to…”, many options come up. Why has he not completed so many of the items on his agenda? Nothing to indicate that he’s doing it for the same reason as he went back on his campaign promises, but what’s certain is that his time is running out, and that of his team as well, so much so that it’s wearing out the patience of tens of millions who are not only already resentful of the ravages of the perpetual crisis, but must now conceal their indignation at the sluggishness, corruption and stupidity prevailing in the highest spheres.
As of next Wednesday, we’ll be paying a 16% value-added tax on all foods sold at Oxxo, Seven-Eleven, supermarkets and…even in movie theatres? Mega-delinquents such as Alejandro Ramírez of Cinépolis and Germán Lelo de Larrea of Cinemex, who sell hot dogs at eight times the price of those on the street, will also be adding 16% to their candies?
After the oil-price collapse of 2014, Hacienda applied, starting in February 2015, a 124-billion-peso cut to social service spending. Since this government decidedly isn’t working for anyone, social service spending will further contract, in 2016, to 135 billion pesos.
During the electoral campaign of 2012, Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered a 50% salary cut for all upper-level bureauccrats, and other measures, to achieve an annual saving of 300 billion pesos. At this level, it would have been possible to save — and apply to works of collective benefit — close to a trillion pesos.
Meanwhile, so as not to lessen the privileges of ministers, magistrates, secretaries, counselors and other parasites of public administration, Hacienda opted to take from the populace 269 billion pesos between 2015 and 2016, without mentioning that they’ll be sucking us dry with the price of fuel and taxes for which we, in return, will get shitty governmental services.
The planets appear to be lining up: Peña Nieto is leaving us, slowly, but he’s leaving us; his economic project is inviable, and the people don’t want more violence but is not disposed to suffer any more humiliations and, as much as it can, will emulate the people of Ocotlán, Jalisco, who threw out the PRI from the Municipal Presidency where it had ruled from time immemorial, through a sudden shortage of chairs.
Let me explain. On the night of Thursday, March 19, an attack of the Jalisco “Nueva Generacíon” Cartel (CJNG) on the Federal Police station left so much blood in the streets of Ocotlán that the local authorities had to wash it away with high-pressure hoses.
Two months later, on the night of May 21-22, 42 men of various ages, who were sleeping in a ranch in Tanhuato Michoacán, very close to the Jalisco border, were surrounded by Federal Police agents and in some cases, arrested and tortured with infinite cruelty, and others gunned down at point-blank range.
During the operation, the Army fired on the Federal Police, causing a casualty. The casualty was attributed to the victims. But these, as has been proven by photos of their cadavers, before and after they had long guns planted on them, never participated in any combat. Much less “ambushed a military convoy that was patrolling the zone,” as the Secretariat of Defence routinely informed us.
Identified by relatives as residents of Ocotlán, the 42 presumed members of the CJNG wound up in the Morelia morgue, where coroners found that 11 of them had had their testicles cut off, others had their eyes put out, others had their arms broken, others had been sexually violated with metal objects, and others had had their teeth beaten into their jawbones. And all this courtesy of Enrique Peña Nieto.
The problem of the chairs began when the remains of the 42 were brought to their homes and, to organize the respective wakes, the families called businesses which rent chairs for dances, weddings, baptisms and other social events. But upon seeing the amount of demand, the owners of said businesses bought hundreds of chairs from local furniture factories to satisfy the needs of their clients.
On June 7, in that village that was chock-full of PRI voters, the people voted massively for a candidate they hadn’t even seen, and that good man, who had never expected to win, did so by a landslide. Is the day drawing near when the same will occur throughout the land?
Maybe what we most urgently need is not the medical part of Peña Nieto’s surgery, but an autopsy of the Mexican political system, that corpse in an advanced state of social decomposition amid whose remains, as the Argentines would say, we are rotting and re-rotting.
So, it would appear that the president of Mexico, the same who rose to power under inauspicious circumstances, is not only sick, but terminally ill. And Mexico, under his power, is a fester of rotting corpses and buzzing flies. Innocent persons accused of belonging to drug cartels get slaughtered by the dozens on the regular — does that sound like a healthy body politic to you?
And remember, it is none other than Enrique Peña Nieto himself who authorized all this cracking-down of the military and the federal police on the villagers of those humble districts. Operations of that size require presidential sign-offs, no? After all, it has to look like SOMETHING is being done to curb all the rampant drug-trafficking and its attendant violence and mayhem.
Mexico today is like Colombia in the 1980s, only worse, if that’s even possible. Everyone from the president on down has a stake in the drug trade, and also in the show that gets put on by the media to convince us all that it will, someday, be got under control, when all the gang bosses are dead or in jail. As if! The gringo appetite for dope of all kinds is what’s really driving the trade, and if that were to end, one would see all this banditry go the way of the dodo as well. But since gringos like their cocaine, their crack, their crystal meth and so on, of course it won’t. The so-called War on Drugs has done nothing but to create demand, driving up prices and making the whole business all the more attractive to all manner of bottom feeders.
And Peña Nieto, as Washington’s man in Mexico, is happy to play along, for as long as his faltering liver (appropriately, the organ responsible for neutralizing and disposing of all manner of toxins, including drugs and alcohol) holds out. But, as his jaundiced eyes and gaunt face have given us to know, that won’t be for much longer.