The students of the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City have introduced a new tourist walk in the campus. They call it the Peñatour. Visitors follow the path taken by Enrique Peña Nieto in May, when he was running for the presidency. The climax is the toilet where Peña Nieto sought refuge from hundreds of protesters.
The university (known as Ibero) is one of the country’s most exclusive private education centres; it is where the Mexican elites educate their children. It is hard to describe the national shock that was felt when students of that university angrily confronted Peña Nieto, accusing him of violently repressing the peasants of San Salvador Atenco in 2006, when he was governor of the state of Mexico. When he defiantly claimed that he had acted in the national interest, the anger spread. Students throughout Mexico organised a movement against him and the media that supported his presidential candidacy. Their movement was nicknamed YoSoy132 (Iam132), after a viral video featuring 131 Ibero students.
In the presidential election last July, Peña Nieto was proclaimed winner amid allegations that he had bought votes and received dubious campaign funding. An electorial tribunal found that the elections were “authentic and fair”, but protesters have not been convinced. In alliance with several workers’ and peasants’ organisations, the students formed the National Convention Against the Imposition (CNI). Last week thousands marched in the city of Tula to launch a campaign of nonviolent resistance against Peña Nieto’s election. Wherever he has since visited abroad – from Berlin to Buenos Aires – expat Mexican students have staged protests.
In Mexico mass protests are planned to mark Peña Nieto’s inauguration as president on Saturday. The CNI organisations have announced that they will surround the chamber of deputies, where the inauguration will take place. That same day, several opposition politicians close to Andrés Manuel López Obrador – the leftist candidate who lost the election – intend to protest inside parliament as the new president is sworn in, to express their rejection of the election results.
A few miles from the chamber, beside the Angel of Independence – the monument to Mexican independence – the Movimiento de Renovación Nacional will hold a protest rally. Morena is the mass movement (and soon to be political party) formed by López Obrador, who resigned from the Partido de la Revolución Democrática to establish an organisation closer to his political views. Martí Batres, the leader of the new organisation, has already said that Peña Nieto did not win the election, but bought it.
To avoid unpleasant surprises in his inauguration ceremony, Peña Nieto will leave the chamber immediately after he has been sworn in; he will not make a speech. A representative of each political party will take the floor to give a speech that won’t be heard by either Peña Nieto or Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president.
Instead of addressing parliament, Peña Nieto will go to the National Palace, where he will celebrate his victory in the company of dignitaries, heads of government, diplomats, members of several royal families, religious leaders and celebrities from the worlds of culture, sciences and sports. Traditionally this party is held inside the chamber of deputies.
A few days before Peña Nieto takes the mantle of power, a military siege-style cordon has been placed around the building of San Lazaro, headquarters of the Chamber of Deputies to “protect” the new president. Four Metro stations, several Metrobus stops, and many surrounding streets have been closed. Marcelo Ebrard, mayor of Mexico City, said that this sends out the wrong signal: “I had never seen a show of this size – what are they afraid of?”
No Mexican city has yet witnessed a significant celebration of Peña Nieto’s victory. Instead, a mixture of discontent and scepticism towards his government is palpable throughout the country.
Luis Hernández Navarro is the opinion editor of Mexico’s La Jornada.