Royal welcome for embattled Mexican president in London

1st March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will pay a state visit next week to Britain, receiving a lavish royal welcome that may provide some distraction from his domestic troubles.

Pena Nieto will be welcomed Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, where he and his wife Angelica Rivera will stay for two nights and be feted with a grand banquet.

The visit, heralded by a show of British and Mexican flags this weekend on the Mall leading up to the palace, will also see the president meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and address both Houses of Parliament.

On Thursday Pena Nieto will head to Aberdeen, the centre of the oil industry in Scotland, to sign an agreement with companies that extract oil from the North Sea.

Mexico, a major oil producer, last year passed an historic energy reform bill which opens the sector to foreign investment for the first time since 1938.

The visit to Britain holds significant diplomatic importance for Pena Nieto, who is struggling with falling approval ratings and relentless drug violence at home.

Mexico has faced international outrage and regular protests over the disappearance and alleged slaughter of 43 college students at the hands of a police-backed gang in September.

London-based members of the Mexican student organisation "Yo Soy 132" are planning to protest outside Cameron's Downing Street office when Pena Nieto meets the president.

"Foreign governments should not be complicit in the abuses of human rights and the lack of access to justice that prevail in Mexico," the group said in a statement.

This week, it emerged that Pope Francis expressed concern to a friend that his native Argentina was at risk of "Mexicanisation" by drug gangs.

Pena Nieto even came under fire at the Oscars, when Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu used his victory speech for "Birdman" to plead for a "government that we deserve."

© 2015 AFP

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