Mexico's New President

Mexico swears in President Enrique Peña Nieto amid violent protests

Dec 03, 2012 | By Kelli Plasket with TIME and AP reporting
ALFREDO ESTRELLA—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Mexico inaugurated new President Enrique Peña Nieto for a six-year term on Saturday, December 1, in Mexico City, the country’s capital. Peña Nieto, 46, is a member of Mexico’s centrist, or moderate, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the former governor of central Mexico state, one of 32 states in the country. “I promise to uphold the constitution and its laws and to carry out loyally and patriotically the job of President of the republic,” Peña Nieto said. “If I don’t, the people will demand it.”

A demonstrator waves a Mexican flag as protesters gather in Mexico City, outside the inauguration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, on December 1, 2012.
PEDRO PARDO—AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A demonstrator waves a Mexican flag as protesters gather in Mexico City, outside the inauguration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, on December 1, 2012.

Peña Nieto, who won 38% of the vote during the country’s election in July, has also promised a democratic and transparent government. His party had ruled Mexico for 71 years before being voted out 12 years ago. The PRI’s rule was plagued by fixed elections and other political corruption. Current opponents say the party hasn’t changed. Protestors were present inside and outside the congressional chamber during Peña Nieto’s inauguration. Some behaved violently, vandalizing store windows and throwing stones and firecrackers at police. The police responded by spraying tear gas. At least eight people were injured and 92 were arrested during the violence, according Marcelo Ebrard, the mayor of Mexico City.

A few days before the inauguration, then President Elect Peña Nieto visited the White House to meet with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "What happens in Mexico has an impact on our society," Obama said. The leaders discussed immigration reform, trade and drug violence.

Hope for Mexico

After the inauguration, President Peña Nieto got right to work. On December 2, he signed the “Pact for Mexico,” an agreement that sets goals for making big changes. “The country must be transformed without delay,” Peña Nieto said.

Peña Nieto, known for his talents for dialogue and compromise, has pledged to focus on economic growth and job creation. The country needs it. While its economy is slowly growing, almost half of Mexico’s 112 million people live in poverty. Peña Nieto vowed to help pave the way to a brighter future. "I’m feeling a renewed sense of hope and optimism about what we can do in the coming years," Peña Nieto told TIME.