THE AMERICAS

Investigative report accuses Mexican president of plagiarizing law thesis

A spokesman for Peña Nieto admits there were “errors in style like quotes without inverted commas”

Mexican President Peña Nieto gives a medal to dancer Elisa Carrillo.
Mexican President Peña Nieto gives a medal to dancer Elisa Carrillo.EFE

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto plagiarized nearly 30 percent of his 1991 law thesis, according to an investigative report published on Sunday. Carmen Arístegui, a journalist who heads the news website Aristeguinoticias.com, published an article at the weekend accusing the president of plagiarizing the works of at least 10 authors, by failing to place fragments he copied verbatim in quotation marks or list the references in his bibliography.

Eduardo Sánchez, the president’s spokesman, said Peña Nieto might have committed “errors in style such as quotes without inverted commas or the absence of references to authors he included in his bibliography.” Sánchez added that he regrets the fact that this may now be of “journalistic interest.”

Arístegui and a team of reporters discovered paragraphs in Peña Nieto’s thesis that are identical to the authors’ words

Arístegui, a well-known journalist who was dismissed from Noticias MVS in 2015 after she revealed that First Lady Angélica Rivera purchased a mansion from one of the government’s largest contractors, says Peña Nieto plagiarized 28.8 percent of the 200 pages he wrote.

The Mexican president studied at the private university between 1984 and 1989. In 1991, he presented his thesis “Mexican Presidential Rule and Álvaro Obregón,” when he was aged 25.

The article compares fragments of his thesis with the works of historian Enrique Krauze and University of New Mexico Professor Linda Hall, among others.

Arístegui and a team of reporters discovered paragraphs in Peña Nieto’s thesis that are identical to these authors’ words, copied without quotation marks. The article claims 197 of the 682 paragraphs in the thesis contained text that came from at least a dozen authors whom the writer failed to cite or include in his bibliography. The article says the president copied up to 20 paragraphs from a work by former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, Efe news agency reports.

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Eduardo Sánchez issued a statement saying that Peña Nieto “complied with requirements established by Universidad Panamericana to graduate as a lawyer.”

The investigative report comes at a time when the president is facing his lowest popularity ratings.

In 2014, Arístegui and her team also revealed that Mexican President Peña Nieto and his wife bought homes from two government contractors in what became known as the Casa Blanca scandal.

English version by Dyane Jean François.