Peña Nieto’s Terrible Arithmetic

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Below is an annual breakdown of the number of people killed in Mexico during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year tenure. This terrible arithmetic is a testament to his administration’s ineptitude. Peña Nieto may be one of the most unskilled presidents Mexico has ever had.

From December 2012, when Peña Nieto took office, to December 2017, 98,120 Mexicans became casualties of what government statistics label “intentional homicides,” defined as unlawful death or harm, purposefully inflicted on a person.


Peña Nieto, who as a candidate pledged to confront violence “promptly and efficiently,” lied to all of us. Or perhaps he made the pledge without knowing how to fulfill it. Nevertheless, the result has been tragedy for the country.


This is the account of his incompetence:
— 2012: 1,699 deaths.
— 2013: 18,106 deaths.
— 2014: 15,520 deaths.
— 2015: 16,909 deaths.
— 2016: 20,547 deaths.
— 2017: 25,339 deaths.


Total: 98,120 dead people. The Peña Nieto administration is on track to be the bloodiest presidency in Mexico’s modern history. In a few months, its toll will surpass the more than 104,000 deaths under that of his predecessor, Felipe Calderón.

The legacies of both Peña Nieto and Calderón will be clouded by the massacres, clandestine graves and a useless war against illicit drugs. But they will be recalled mainly for their huge failure to fulfill their most important duty: Protect Mexican lives.


These numbers are comparable only to those coming from countries at war. To make matters worse, these statistics come from Mexico’s Interior Ministry (, and I have trouble believing that any data coming from such an incompetent administration is entirely accurate. It’s possible that the actual number of deaths is higher.

Is there a single Mexican family who hasn’t experienced this violence?

Peña Nieto has been a terrible president. It’s surprising that he has not faced impeachment, given the scandals, like his wife’s purchase of a $7 million luxury home from a government contractor; an obvious conflict of interest. Perhaps Mexico’s next president will dare to investigate and prosecute Peña Nieto.


And while I’m amazed at the tremendous endurance of the Mexican people, I wonder why we aren’t witnessing more displays of indignation. Where is the true political opposition?

Besides the corruption within his administration, Peña Nieto has demonstrated a lack of knowledge about this violence, the country’s most pressing matter. He has never known what to do, though he had witnessed the disaster of violence during the Calderón administration. Once elected, he went on to make the same mistakes.


Peña Nieto wasn’t ready to become president, and never learned how to be one during his time in office. While thousands of Mexicans were being murdered, the president naïvely thought that the trouble was an image problem.

Since his questionable arrival in the presidency, his lack of leadership has come at an enormous cost in terms of human lives. We will always wonder whether more Mexicans would be alive had another president been elected. Would the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College still be with us? Or the victims of the Nochixtlan and Tlatlaya massacres?


Whoever put Peña Nieto in charge is an accomplice to this catastrophe. The same is true of the people who have worked with him and remained silent about the massacres and disappearances. I can’t think of any instance of a minister or other official raising his or her hand in this administration to say, “This is not right.” How can politicians from Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party now ask for our votes, when they are jointly responsible for the most violent times we have ever known? They don’t deserve a second chance. Cowardice must not be rewarded.

I refuse to believe Mexicans want more of this.

The key issue in the next presidential election, on July 1, will be stopping the violence. There must be a heated debate on its causes, and what should be done to dramatically decrease the number of deaths.


And voting is paramount. This election is not only about choosing a candidate or a political party. In Mexico, this election centers on fewer people getting killed.

Jorge Ramos, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a news anchor on Univision.