El Grito de Dolores, Mexico’s Cry for Independence

Thousands of Mexicans flooded the streets of Mexico City’s central square in order to protest their President, Enrique Peña Nieto, during Mexico’s independence day as a symbol of the lack of patriotism the people feel under their current presidency. Alternating between chants of “Renunica Ya” (Resign now) and “Fuera Peña” (Get out Peña), the Mexican people urged their President to step down during the final term of his administration. Since Nieto took office, Mexico has suffered from increasing drug violence, widespread corruption, and the disappearance and murder of forty-three teacher trainees, all of which, to these protestors in the street, demonstrate Nieto’s incompetence. The breaking point occurred with the invitation of Donald Trump to speak with the Mexican President, furthering the distrust between the Mexican people and their government. The Mexican people believe that their current President fails to respect his duty to protect their country’s interests and should step down as their leader.

Makeshift smoke bombs, blackened Mexican flags, and screams of resignation haunted Mexico’s central square during El Grito de Los Dolores, the traditional speech made by the President to recognize Mexico’s independence. The protesters, mostly students, used this day to showcase how the President was killing the Mexican state through his executive decisions. Although Nieto’s rule possessed many instances of mishandling of domestic affairs, such the botched investigation of the killing of trainee teachers in 2014, the presence of Trump in Mexico infuriated many citizens and acted as the tipping point to take action against the President. The Republican Presidential nominee openly pushed the ideas that Mexicans are “rapists,” “bring in crime and drugs,” and that America should “build a wall” in order to combat the influx of illegal immigrants entering America. The fact that despite all the adverse comments made by Trump, Nieto still welcomed the nominee with open arms and treated Trump like any other head of state deeply unsettled many Mexican citizens. As a whole, the Mexican people were appalled that after the statements made by Trump their President would willingly treat the nominee with such respect.   Nieto’s meeting with Trump only intensified the belief that the President isn’t working to enhance the lives of Mexico’s citizens, but for himself.  A leader should represent the sentiments felt by the majority of the people rather than pursue relations that wildly upset the general public.

The hashtag #ReunincaYA has taken Mexican social media by storm in a cyber-protest against the President. For those who didn’t have to means to take part in the premeditated protest in Mexico City, the hashtag has enabled people to show support for the protesters who marched in the streets of Mexico City.  Those who took part in the peaceful protest were ultimately forced to disperse due to police interference. Despite the large protest that occurred, the only coverage of the day’s events televised by the national news was solely focused on Nieto’s speech and the celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain.  

Scandals surrounding the Trump appearance circulated throughout the news and within Nieto’s cabinet. Luis Videgaray, Nieto’s Financial Minister, resigned shortly after the meeting between Nieto and Trump concluded. Videgaray was the individual responsible for setting up and executing the amicable meeting between Trump and Nieto. With the unpopular reaction to the meeting, Videgaray’s departure has been speculated to be a final attempt by Nieto to regain some popularity and trust from the Mexican people. However, the Mexican people have rejected this attempt to win their support and continue to show a lack of trust in their leader.  Despite the efforts to raise Nieto’s popularity during his last term, his poll numbers have continually gone down. According to Reuters, “Nieto’s approval stood at only 30 percent, with 66 percent of respondents saying that they disapprove of the President’s job performance,” stressing the Mexican people’s low approval of their President.  Nieto is on track to be known as one of the most unpopular Presidents in Mexican history.

Donald Trump intensified the Mexican’s dislike of their President with just one visit. The people feel that Nieto focused more on his internal cabinet and pleasing the government rather than acting as a representative of his own people. Between Trump’s visit, the lack of control over the corruption and violence, and the mishandling of murders and kidnappings, Nieto has lost nearly all trust of the Mexican public.

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