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Mexico President Accused of Plagiarism – Enrique Peña Nieto’s Thesis Adds to Laundry List of Scandals: Report

First Posted: Aug 24, 2016 04:47 PM EDT
Enrique Peña Nieto getty

Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nearly 30 percent of Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto's 1991 law degree thesis plagiarized from lawyers, historians, and at least one president, according to a report published by Aristegui Noticias.

Journalists for the Mexico-based website said Peña Nieto lifted at least 197 of 682 paragraphs - 28.8 percent - from other authors, ranging from former Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado to University of New Mexico professor Linda Hall. At least 20 paragraphs from de la Madrid's 1977 book "Studies of Constitutional Law" appeared unabridged with little or no attributions.

"Enrique Peña Nieto uses words and ideas of the man who preceded him in the presidential chair 30 years ago as if they were his own," read the report.

The journalists also pointed to grammatical errors in plagiarized excepts, and how the paragraphs in questions did not have quotation marks. Some of the authors, they wrote, were not even mentioned in the bibliography.

Peña Nieto administration spokesman Eduardo Sanchez issued a statement before the report's publication Sunday night downplaying the "style errors" journalists observed, noting that the president completed all law degree prerequisites at Panamerican University.

"Apparently style errors like quotes without quotation marks or the lack of references to authors included are, two and a half decades later, a matter of journalistic interest," said spokesman Eduardo Sanchez.

Peña Nieto's Past with Aristegui Noticias

Aristegui Noticias is an online publication founded by investigative Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui who, in March 2015, was fired from her popular morning radio show for exposing a deal Peña Nieto's wife made with government contractors.

First Lady Angélica Rivera said the family's $7 million Mexico City mansion was paid on her earning as a soap-opera star. Aristegui found the house was purchased with financing from a government contractor which had won million-dollar public works contracts.

While the Peña Nieto's eventually gave up their mansion, the "White House" scandal led to public distrust and decades-low approval ratings that hovered near 20 percent. The president formally apologized last month; nearly two years after Aristegui broke the story.

A Scandal-Filled Presidency

Peña Nieto's popularity has never been higher than when he took office in 2012, albeit with just 38 percent of the vote.

Many blame him for plummeting value of the peso, ongoing drug cartel wars, and government corruption, the latter two which may have played a part in the disappearance of 43 students in December 2014.

"Peña Nieto didn't come [to Iguana] because of us. They have all the people and resources to find out what happened, but they invented a lie," said Emiliano Navarette, parent to one of the missing children, in speaking with The Guardian.

The latest scandal comes amid reports that company Grupo Pierdant is allowing Mrs. Peña Nieto to use a $2 million apartment in Key Biscayne, Florida while paying property taxes on an adjacent apartment belonging to a holdings company allegedly set up by the president's wife reports The Guardian.

The Guardian, which uncovered the agreement, said Grupo Pierdant is expected to bid on a lucrative government contracts to develop Mexico's maritime seaports citing this following source.

Sanchez released a statement on the Peña Nieto's administration's behalf, saying he was not contacted for the story and lamenting The Guardian for "directing their journalists to predict the future."

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