Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (March 12, 1911 - July 15, 1979) served as the President of Mexico from 1964 to 1970.
Diaz Ordaz was born in San Andrés Chalchícomula
(Ciudad Serdán, Puebla
). His father, Ramón Díaz Ordaz Redonet, worked as an accountant, while his mother, Sabina Bolaños Cacho de Díaz Ordaz, worked as a school teacher. His great-grandfather, José María Díaz Ordaz
, a lawyer and a general, served as the Governor of Oaxaca
. Díaz Ordaz graduated from the University of Puebla
on February 8 1937
with a law degree. He became a professor at the university and served as vice rector from 1940–1941. In 1943 he became a federal deputy
for the first district of the state of Puebla, and served as a senator
for the same state from 1946–1952. He served as the Secretary of Government in the cabinet of president Adolfo López Mateos
from 1958–1964. On December 1 1963
, he became the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party
(PRI). The 1965 yearbook
of Encyclopædia Britannica
declared that despite facing only token opposition, Díaz Ordaz campaigned as if he were the underdog. He won the presidential election on September 8
As president Díaz Ordaz was known for his authoritarian manner of rule over his cabinet and the country in general. His strictness was evident in his handling of a number of protests during his term, in which railroad workers, teachers, and doctors were fired for taking industrial action. When university students in Mexico City protested the government's actions around the time of the 1968 Summer Olympics
, Díaz Ordaz oversaw the occupation of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
and the arrest of several students, leading to the shooting of hundreds of unarmed protesters during the Tlatelolco massacre
in downtown Mexico City, in October 2,1968. The Mexican army fired ruthlessly at the unarmed students as well as many other people who let the students take shelter inside their homes. Statistics concerning the casualties of this incident vary, often for political reasons. Some people were kept imprisoned for several years. The crackdown would eventually be denounced by his successors, and ordinary Mexicans view the assault of unarmed students as an atrocity. The stain of Tlatelolco would remain on PRI rule for many years.
Díaz Ordaz was praised for his handling of the Mexican economy, keeping it stable, growing and prosperous by preventing the devaluation of the peso and warding off inflation; during his mandate, the Mexican gold peso was one of the most reliable forms of bullion in the world. He also worked for agricultural reforms and began work on irrigation projects and rural industrialization. He also enacted Mexico's labor law as it currently stands, and began work on the Mexico City Metro.
Life after the Presidency
After his term expired, Díaz and his family vanished completely from the public eye; he was occasionally mentioned in newspapers (usually in a derogatory manner), seldom made interviews and was usually spotted only when voting in elections. In 1977, a break from this obscurity came as he was appointed as the first Ambassador to Spain in 38 years, previously broken due to Falangism. During his brief stint as Ambassador, he was met with a lot of hostility from both the Spanish media and the Mexican media alike as he was persistently asked questions about his actions as President, and resigned within several months due to this as well as health problems. He died in Mexico City on 15 July 1979.
- ¡De lo que más orgulloso estoy de esos seis años es el año de 1968, porque me permitió salvar a mi país. ("What I am most proud of those six years is the year of 1968, because it allowed me to save my country.")
- Camp, Roderic A. Mexican Political Biographies. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona, 1982.
- Smith, Peter H., "Mexico Since 1946: Dynamics of an Authoritarian Regime," in Bethell, Leslie, ed., Mexico Since Independence. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. 1991.