Congressional Research Service Reports: Jan. 12, 2015
Congress has maintained significant interest in neighboring Mexico, a close ally and top trade partner whose political and economic situation has significant ramifications for the United States. President Enrique Pe?a Nieto of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) assumed the Mexican presidency on December 1, 2012, after 12 years of rule by the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Pe?a Nieto has enacted structural reforms and bolstered economic relations with the United States, but observers maintain he has mishandled recent high-profile human rights cases and allegations of a conflict of interest between his wife and a government contractor. President Pe?a Nieto's first two years in office have brought mixed results for Mexico. During 2013, Pe?a Nieto's 'Pact for Mexico' agreement with the PAN and leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) facilitated the passage of significant financial, education, telecommunications, and energy reforms. Still, the economy faltered (GDP growth fell from 3.7% in 2012 to 1.2% in 2013) and some types of violent crime-including kidnapping and extortion- increased. Implementation of the reforms began in 2014, but has been overshadowed by the government's inability to resolve a case involving 43 students who were forcibly abducted from Guerrero in September. Local and state officials' alleged complicity in the forced disappearance- and likely murder-of the students, as well as federal mishandling of the investigation, have been widely criticized and sparked ongoing protests.