U.S. Group Delays Event With Pena Nieto Amid Mounting Protests

A U.S. philanthropic group postponed an event for business leaders in Mexico City, where it planned to host President Enrique Pena Nieto and the U.S. ambassador, amid mounting protests against the government’s education plan.

The U.S.-Mexico Foundation’s “Shared Destiny Encounter,” which had been planned for Sept. 10, probably will be rescheduled for several months from now, Martha Smith, the group’s president, said in a phone interview.

The move comes after protesters against Pena Nieto’s efforts to make teachers more accountable for their performance occupied Mexico City’s main square with tents, shut down roads to the airport, closed the main historic boulevard and blockaded the stock exchange. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the runner-up in last year’s presidential election, plans to lead a Sept. 8 rally against an administration plan to open the state-controlled oil industry to more private investment, which he says would give the nation’s energy resources to foreigners.

“We decided it’s probably a better idea to postpone it for a few months,” Smith said of the event. “These structural reforms are of huge importance. It’s not surprising these reforms have sparked an impassioned debate, and that it’s spilling over onto the streets.”

Pena Nieto today will deliver a televised address to the nation that he delayed by a day after 15,000 people marched to his official residence at Los Pinos from the city’s historic center to protest the education plan.

The president also canceled a trip to Turkey that had been scheduled for this week in order to focus on the new congressional session that began yesterday. He reiterated his plans to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia for the Group of 20 leaders’ meetings later this week.

The U.S.-Mexico Foundation’s board is led by Jose Antonio Fernandez, chief executive officer of Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB, owner of a controlling stake in Latin America’s largest Coca-Cola bottler, and Herbert A. Allen III, president of investment firm Allen & Co.

It is a non-profit organization with a mission of expanding opportunity for the Mexican people through bi-national partnerships and philanthropy, according to the group’s website.

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