MEXICO CITY – “Thank you for being here my love...” Then presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto shared those words just as he was finishing up an appearance this past Mother’s Day.
The message was directed squarely at his wife, yet it still triggered a frenzy among the thousands of women in attendance, some of whom responded to the photogenic candidate with catcalls like “Peña, you’re hot," and "I want you on my mattress.” In reality, there were shouts to both – to Peña Nieto and his glamorous wife, Mexico’s it couple more than ever.
Over the past two years, Peña Nieto – Mexico’s now president-elect – has never been alone. And not just because he’s surrounded at every political event, meeting or television appearance by a legion of advisors, consultants and marketing specialists. He’s also been accompanied at all times by his wife, Angélica Rivera, aka “La Gaviota” (the Seagull), a beautiful soap opera star who’s every bit as much of a celebrity as him.
Rivera, 41, and Peña Nieto, 45, didn’t separate for even an instant during the three months of the campaign. While he demonstrated Franciscan patience, obliging the thousands of people who wanted to touch him or use their cell phones to take photos with him, she took advantage to film some of the campaign’s more emotional moments. Later she’d post the clips on YouTube.
The videos, part of a series called “what my eyes see and my heart feels,” took would-be voters into the couple’s living room, or inside their pickup truck on the way to a campaign stop, giving Peña Nieto’s campaign a touch of “reality.” Some of the videos have more than half a million views.
Analysts say “La Gaviota” ended up playing a key role in the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Angélica Rivera was the hook the PRI needed to reel in the voters of Mexico, where ideas about family have such enormous importance.
This past Sunday – election day – the actress went together with her husband to cast their votes. The soon-to-be first lady was already dressed for the part: in a smart pastel-covered suit jacket covering her normally suggestive cleavage. In Mexico’s collective unconscious, Peña Nieto and his wife are the successful and handsome protagonists of a real-life telenovela.
Skeletons bound to crawl out
Angélica Rivera was married for 14 years to television producer José Alberto Castro. The couple divorced in 2007. Three years later, Rivera met Peña Nieto while filming a promotional video for the state of Mexico, where Peña Nieto was the governor at the time. Rivera was the star of “La Gaviota,” a popular soap opera and the origin of her nickname. Not long after, the future Mexican president acknowledged during an appearance that he was dating a TV star.
With a huge crowd in attendance, the couple married in 2010 in Mexico City’s historic Toluca Cathedral. Each has three children from their previous marriages. Peña Nieto has a fourth child from an extramarital relationship.
Like any good telenovela, the Peña Nieto-Rivera show also features villains and murky pasts that threaten to overshadow their happiness. Since declaring his candidacy, Peña Nieto has been hounded by his former lover, the beautiful Maritza Díaz, also of the PRI, who regularly posts insulting Facebook updates accusing him of neglecting their son. He denies the claims.
“Just like he is accused of lying in his last government report, altering figures… he does the same thing in his personal life,” Peña Nieto’s “ex” wrote on her Facebook wall, which – to the delight of his political opponents – is open to the public.
Read the original article in Spanish.
Photo - Angélica Rivera de Peña