The major news out of Mexico today originates with no Mexican paper, but runs instead in the UK’s Financial Times, under the eye-catching headline “Mexico plagued by ‘incredulity and distrust’, admits president.” It comes out of an interview by the FT’s Jude Webber, apparently conducted several days ago in Los Pinos, the presidential residence. You can see it here (for free, but you have to register).
The story’s release today was timed to coincide with President Peña Nieto’s arrival in London for a state visit. But the Mexican papers had time to pick it up and craft their own articles out of the Financial Times interview. Three lead with it, all using heads almost identical to the FT’s. La Jornada, for example: “Peña admits: A sensation of incredulity and distrust in Mexico.”
The news value is only partly a function of the president’s actual comments, though they do constitute, in Webber’s words, “his most candid admission since the disappearance and suspected murder of 43 students” last September in Iguala. The full quote by the president, at least as it appears in the printed FT story, goes like this: “Today there is, without doubt, a sensation of incredulity and distrust . . . there has been a loss of confidence and this has sown suspicion and doubt.”
The thing is, obviously, that we already knew all that. For the president to acknowledge it so bluntly is something, to be sure. But more noteworthy, I would think, is his statement that his administration must “reconsider where we are heading.”
Which means, stripped bare, that the president of Mexico has just told the world that his country is experiencing a crisis of confidence and that his administration will change course to deal with it.
And that’s the real impact here — the where as much as the what. Peña Nieto’s comments were explicitly aimed at an international audience. That puts him on record as committed to solving the crisis. The world will be paying attention.