July 31, 2015 / 8:29 PM / 4 years ago

Mexican president's approval ratings hit after drug kingpin's escape

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto attends an event at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City July 17, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Approval ratings for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto have fallen to a new low, a newspaper poll showed on Friday amid a weak economy and after the escape of the country’s most notorious criminal from a maximum-security prison.

A July email survey of 1,200 people by daily newspaper Reforma showed Peña Nieto’s approval ratings had dropped to 34 percent from 39 percent in March. The rating was the worst in a Reforma poll since he took office in December 2012.

The survey was conducted after Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman broke out of prison on July 11 for a second time, escaping in a tunnel built right under his cell.

The jail break by Guzman, who appeared to have had assistance from prison staff, increased pressure on Peña Nieto to do more to curb corruption and the influence of violent drug gangs.

The president’s ratings had already been battered in the past year due to criticism over the disappearance and apparent murder of 43 trainee teachers, suspected extra-judicial killings by the army and conflict-of-interest scandals.

Peña Nieto has pushed through a string of reforms in office, including opening up the oil industry to private investors, but the measures have so far done little to boost weak growth.

Reporting by Tomas Sarmiento; Writing by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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