MEXICO.- Yesterday, TIME magazine reveled its latest cover for its international edition, with the main image being that of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and "SAVING MEXICO" in big letters advertising a new article that details how the president has seemingly saved Mexico through his reforms. Needless to say, widespread indignation (and incredulity) on social media in the country followed.
Just over a year into his term, Peña Nieto has already managed to enact several major reforms that promise to reshape Mexico in several ways, from education, to energy, taxes and even its political structure. But far from "saving Mexico" these reforms have been received with mixed reaction at best, and outright fierce opposition from both liberal and conservatives, workers and businessmen.
Probably only members of his administration would dare call President Peña "Mexico's savior", and even then probably only in private and never in public.
There is already a petition on Change.org pressuring the TIME editor Nancy Gibbs to remove Peña Nieto from the cover (although the magazine is already on its way to newsstands).
The petition, written by Mexican citizen Jorge Munoz Esqueda, has already almost 6,000 signatures since yesterday, with a message explaining that Peña's first year in office comes very short of "saving Mexico".
"It's been a very difficult couple of years in Mexico, more accurately, decades, and Peña Nieto has done nothing to save or help the country as your cover suggets. Peña Nieto’s physical presence continues to dominate magazine covers and plague our cities with his infinite propaganda that costs billions of pesos to generate. The gap between rich and poor is not getting any smaller since the last reform raised taxes but did not raise the minimum salary which is not even applied by some companies. The reforms he is applying have been hurting the citizens economy in such a way that the middle class is in danger of extinction. The reforms are only “aiding” a seldom few, putting businesses out of service and jeopardizing the majorities income and growth", reads the first paragraph of the statement.
Of course, the Internet also reacted swiftly with humor and satire at the magazine's decision, by photoshopping the cover and included several others memes from around the web:
The article itself has still not been release to the general public and remains behind a paywall until the 24th of this month, but published excerpts from TIME has Michael Crowley, the report's author, comparing the current situation in the country to five years ago, saying that new reforms are meant to open Mexico's oil industry to foreign investment and modernize the country's energy sector. The same goes for constitutional reforms to the education sector and its tax code.
Inside the magazine there is also an image of, what they call, the "committee to save Mexico". Enrique Peña Nieto, Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, and Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso are seen together as if part of some superhero trio.
For a president who was elected with just 37 percent of the vote in 2012, it is in fact a bit presumptuous to consider his actions as "saving" Mexico, especially when others have pointed out (in fact, TIME magazine itself) that kidnappings and militias have been worse under Peña than during his predecessors term, economic growth has actually come to almost a standstill during some quarters, and inflation has increased (although the Central Bank expects this to be a good thing and coupled with economic growth).
Baja California is especially taken aback by the cover, as it has been home to a large amount of the opposition to the new tax reform law approved last year, which raised the VAT rate from 11 to 16 percent in border regions (placing them at a disadvantage against California's lower sales taxes) and increased tax requirements for small businesses. The local government has said that Baja will lose around 245 million pesos (18.5 million USD) in purchasing power thanks to these new taxes.
Citizens haven't sat idly however, and more than 58,000 signatures have been submitted as part of a legal request to stay these new fiscal requirements, as a form of a class action against the state. Senators from the state have also presented the Supreme Court with request to declare these new taxes unconstitutional.
On the unemployment front, while it is true that the rate has gone down to 4.25% for December 2013, lower than last year, underemployment and informalemployment has grown, jobs that have zero benefits and legal payrolls.
And another of one of the web's "alternate" covers, just for kicks: