Gustavo Díaz Ordaz

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Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.JPG
49th President of Mexico
In office
December 1, 1964 (1964-12-01) November 30, 1970 (1970-11-30)
Preceded by Adolfo López Mateos
Succeeded by Luis Echeverría
Secretary of the Interior
In office
1 December 1958 16 November 1963
President Adolfo López Mateos
Preceded by Ángel Carvajal Bernal
Succeeded byLuis Echeverría
Senator of the Congress of the Union
for Puebla
In office
1 September 1946 31 August 1952
Preceded byNoé Lecona Soto
Succeeded byLuis C. Manjarrez
Deputy of the Congress of the Union
for the 1st district of Puebla
In office
1 September 1943 31 August 1946
Preceded by Blas Chumacero
Succeeded byBlas Chumacero
Personal details
José Gustavo del Santísimo Sacramento Díaz Ordaz Bolaños

(1911-03-12)12 March 1911
San Andrés, Puebla, Mexico
Died15 July 1979(1979-07-15) (aged 68)
Cerrada del Risco 133, Jardines del Pedregal,
Mexico City, D.F., Mexico
Resting placePanteón Jardín, Mexico City, Mexico
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Guadalupe Borja
(m. 1937;her death 1974)
  • Gustavo
  • Guadalupe
  • Alfredo
  • Ramón Díaz Ordaz Redonet
  • Sabina Bolaños Cacho
Alma mater University of Puebla

Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños (Spanish pronunciation:  [gusˈtaβo ˈðias oɾˈðas] ; 12 March 1911 – 15 July 1979) was a Mexican politician and member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He served as the President of Mexico from 1964 to 1970.

Institutional Revolutionary Party Mexican political party

The Institutional Revolutionary Party is a Mexican political party founded in 1929 that held uninterrupted power in the country for 71 years from 1929 to 2000, first as the National Revolutionary Party, then as the Party of the Mexican Revolution, and finally renaming itself as the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1946.

President of Mexico Head of state of the country of Mexico

The President of Mexico, officially known as the President of the United Mexican States, is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces. The current President is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office on December 1, 2018.


Díaz Ordaz was born in San Andrés Chalchicomula and obtained a law degree from the University of Puebla in 1937 where he later became its vice-rector. He represented Puebla's 1st district in the Chamber of Deputies from 1943 to 1946. Subsequently he represented the same state in the Chamber of Senators from 1946 to 1952 becoming closely acquainted with then-senator Adolfo López Mateos.

Chamber of Deputies (Mexico) lower house of the parliament of Mexico

The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of the Congress of the Union, the bicameral legislature of Mexico. The other chamber is the Senate. The structure and responsibilities of both chambers of Congress are defined in Articles 50 to 70 of the current constitution.

Senate of the Republic (Mexico) upper house of the parliament of Mexico

The Senate of the Republic, constitutionally Chamber of Senators of the Honorable Congress of the Union, is the upper house of Mexico's bicameral Congress.

Adolfo López Mateos President of Mexico

Adolfo López Mateos was a Mexican politician who became a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), after earlier opposing its precursor in 1929. He was elected President of Mexico, serving from 1958 to 1964.

Díaz Ordaz joined the campaign of Adolfo Ruiz Cortines for the 1952 election and subsequently worked for the Secretariat of the Interior under Ángel Carvajal Bernal. He became the secretary following López Mateos victory in the 1958 election and exercised de facto executive power during the absences of the president, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1963, the PRI announced him as the presidential candidate for the 1964 election, he received 88.81% of the popular vote.

Adolfo Ruiz Cortines politician and asesine

Adolfo Tomás Ruiz Cortines was a Mexican politician who served as 47th President of Mexico from 1952 to 1958, as the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Unlike his predecessor as president Miguel Alemán and his successor Adolfo López Mateos, he had participated in the Mexican Revolution. He was one of the oldest presidents of Mexico, perhaps best remembered for granting women the right to vote in presidential elections and stimulating the Mexican economy during the period known as the Mexican Miracle.

Ángel Carvajal Bernal (1901–1985) was a Mexican politician.

Cuban Missile Crisis The conflict between the US and Cuba over nuclear missile threats from communist Cuba.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962, the Caribbean Crisis, or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey pointing at the Soviet Union. With consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

His administration is mostly remembered for the student protests that took place in 1968, and their subsequent repression by the Army and State forces during the Tlatelolco massacre. [1] [2] [3]

Tlatelolco massacre Social movement of Mexico

Following a summer of increasingly large demonstrations in Mexico City protesting the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, armed forces of Mexico opened fire October 2, 1968 on unarmed civilians, killing an undetermined number, likely in the hundreds. It occurred in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City. The events are considered part of the Mexican Dirty War, when the government used its forces to suppress political opposition. The massacre occurred 10 days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

After passing on presidency to his own Secretary of the Interior (Luis Echeverría), Díaz Ordaz retired from public life. He was briefly the Ambassador to Spain in 1977, a position he resigned after strong protests and criticism by the media. He died of colorectal cancer on 15 July 1979 at the age of 68.

Luis Echeverría President of Mexico (1970–1976)

Luis Echeverría Álvarez is a Mexican politician affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who served as the 50th President of Mexico from 1970 to 1976. At 97, he is currently the oldest living former Mexican president.

Colorectal cancer cancer of the colon or rectum

Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer and colon cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum. A cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Signs and symptoms may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, weight loss, and feeling tired all the time.

Early life and education

Díaz Ordaz Bolaños was born in San Andrés Chalchicomula (now Ciudad Serdán, Puebla), the second of four children. In his later years his father, Ramón Díaz Ordaz Redonet, worked as an accountant. However, for a decade he served in the political machine of President Porfirio Díaz, becoming the jefe político and police administrator of San Andrés Chilchicomula. With the ouster of Díaz by revolutionary forces in May 1911 at the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, he lost his bureaucratic post in the regime change. Subsequently, the family's financial situation was insecure, and Díaz Ordaz's father took a number of jobs and the family frequently moved. [4] He claimed ancestry with conqueror-chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo. [5] Gustavo's mother, Sabina Bolaños Cacho de Díaz Ordaz, was a school teacher, described as "stern and pious." Gustavo, as well as his older brother Rámon, had a weak chin and large protruding teeth and was skinny. "His mother would freely say to anyone, 'But what an ugly son I have!'" [6] His lack of good looks became a way to mock him when he became president of Mexico.

Ciudad Serdán locality in Puebla, Mexico

Ciudad Serdán is the municipal seat of Chalchicomula de Sesma Municipality in the Mexican state of Puebla.

Puebla State of Mexico

Puebla, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital is the city of Puebla.

Porfirio Díaz President of Mexico

José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican general and politician who served seven terms as President of Mexico, a total of 31 years, from February 17, 1877 to December 1, 1880 and from December 1, 1884 to May 25, 1911. A veteran of the War of the Reform (1858–60) and the French intervention in Mexico (1862–67), Díaz rose to the rank of General, leading republican troops against the French-imposed rule of Emperor Maximilian. Seizing power in a coup in 1876, Díaz and his allies, a group of technocrats known as "Científicos", ruled Mexico for the next thirty-five years, a period known as the Porfiriato.

When the family lived for a time in Oaxaca, young Díaz Ordaz attended the Institute of Arts and Sciences, whose alumni included Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz. He was a serious student, but due to his family's financial circumstances, he could not always buy the textbooks he needed. At one point, the family lived as a charity case with a maternal uncle in Oaxaca, who was a Oaxaca state official. The family had to absent themselves when powerful visitors came to the residence. While Gustavo attended the institute, his older brother Ramón taught there after studies in Spain, teaching Latin. A student mocked Professor Ramón Díaz Ordaz's ugliness, and Gustavo defended his brother with physical force. [7] Díaz Ordaz graduated from the University of Puebla on 8 February 1937 with a law degree. He became a professor at the university and served as vice-rector from 1940 to 1941.

Early political career

The young Diaz Ordaz in 1938, behind President Lazaro Cardenas. Presidente Lazaro Cardenas reunido con Sindicato obrero veracruzano en 1938.jpg
The young Díaz Ordaz in 1938, behind President Lázaro Cárdenas.

In a photo from 1938, Díaz Ordaz stands behind President Lázaro Cárdenasm who is front and center. Also in the photo are two other future presidents of Mexico, Manuel Avila Camacho and Miguel Alemán. His political career had a modest start. He had not fought in the Revolution and his father had been part of Porfirio Díaz's regime, so his political rise was not straightforward. He served in the government of Puebla from 1932-43. In 1943, he became a federal politician, serving in the Chamber of Deputies for the first district of the state of Puebla, and he served as a senator for the same state from 1946 to 1952. He came to national prominence in the cabinet of Mexican President President Adolfo López Mateos from 1958 to 1964, a Minister of the Interior (Gobernación). [8] On 18 November 1963, he became the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). [9] Despite facing only token opposition, Díaz Ordaz campaigned as if he were the underdog. [10] He won the presidential election on 5 July 1964.


Díaz Ordaz assumed the presidency on 1 December 1964 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. There he took oath before the Congress of the Union presided by Alfonso Martínez Domínguez. Former president Adolfo López Mateos turned over the presidential sash and Díaz Ordaz delivered his inaugural address.

Domestic policy

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. A first demonstration of this new authoritarianism was given when he used force to end a strike by medics. Medics of the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers, especially residents and interns, had organized a strike to demand better working conditions and an increased salary. [11] His authoritarian style of governing produced resistance such as the emergence of a guerrilla movement in the state of Guerrero. [12] Economically, the era of Díaz Ordaz was a time of economic growth. [13] He established the Mexican Institute of Petroleum in 1965, an important step since oil has been one of Mexico's most productive industries.

Student movement

Effigy of Diaz Ordaz at an anti-government protest in 2009. Effigy of President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz during Tlatelolco 1968 march (2953991208).jpg
Effigy of Díaz Ordaz at an anti-government protest in 2009.

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 on 2 October 1968. The Mexican army fired ruthlessly because a group called "Battalion Olympia" started the shooting between the unarmed students and many other people who let the students take shelter inside their homes.[ citation needed ] 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 Díaz Ordaz's successors, and ordinary Mexicans view the assault on unarmed students as an atrocity. The stain would remain on the PRI for many years.

Every year, on the anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre, the statue of Díaz Ordaz in Zapopan, Jalisco, is vandalized by having a bucket of red paint splattered on it. [14]

Attempt to democratize the PRI

Díaz Ordaz's authoritarian manner of rule also prevented any attempt to democratize the PRI. The president of the PRI, Carlos Madrazo, made such an attempt by proposing inner-party elections in order to strengthen the party's base. After his attempt failed, Madrazo resigned. [15]

Foreign policy

United States

During the administration of Díaz Ordaz, relations with the US were largely harmonic, and several bilateral treaties were formed. [16] President Richard Nixon hosted the first White House state dinner to be held outside Washington, D.C. in Diaz Ordaz's honor, at San Diego's Hotel del Coronado on September 3, 1970.

However, there also were some points of conflict with the US. One was the antidrug Operation Intercept, conducted by the US. Between September and October 1969, all vehicles entering the US from Mexico were inspected. [17] Mexico also embraced the doctrine of nonintervention, and Díaz Ordaz condemned the US invasion of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. [18]

Treaty of Tlatelolco

Under his administration, the Treaty of Tlatelolco prohibited the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons in Latin America. Only peaceful use of nuclear energy was allowed. The treaty made Latin America a nuclear weapon-free zone. [19]

Presidential succession

On October 12, 1969, Díaz Ordaz chose his Secretary of the Interior, Luis Echeverría, as his successor, the seventh in a row by a sitting president of his successor without incident. Other possible candidates were Alfonso Corona de Rosal, Emilio Martínez Manatou, and Antonio Ortiz Mena. [20] He also considered Antonio Rocha Cordero, governor of the state of San Luis Potosí and former Attorney General, who was eliminated for his age (58), and Jesús Reyes Heroles, was disqualified because a parent had been born outside Mexico, in this case Spain, which was prohibited by Article 82 of the Constitution. In the assessment of political scientist Jorge G. Castañeda, Echeverría was Díaz Ordaz's pick by elimination, not choice. [21]

Later life

President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (left) riding a presidential motorcade in San Diego, with US President Richard Nixon. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Richard Nixon San Diego.jpg
President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (left) riding a presidential motorcade in San Diego, with US President Richard Nixon.

After his term expired, Díaz Ordaz and his family vanished completely from the public eye; he was occasionally mentioned in newspapers (usually in a derogatory manner), he seldom gave interviews, and he was usually spotted only when voting in elections.

In 1977, a break from that obscurity came as he was appointed as the first Ambassador to Spain in 38 years, relations between the two countries having previously been broken by the triumph of Falangism in the Spanish Civil War. During his brief stint as Ambassador, he met with hostility from both the Spanish media and the Mexican media, as he was persistently asked questions about his actions as President. He resigned within several months because of that and his health problems. Popular discontent led to a catchy phrase: "Al pueblo de España no le manden esa araña" ("To the people of Spain, do not send that spider").

He died in Mexico City of colorectal cancer.


Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta is named after him.

See also

Further reading

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  1. "The ghosts of Mexico 1968". 24 April 2008.
  3. "Mexico and the United States".
  4. Enrique Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power. New York: HarperCollins 1997, p. 665
  5. Harold Dana Sims, "Gustavo Díaz Ordaz" in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p. 412.
  6. quoted in Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power, p. 666.
  7. Krauze, Mexico: Biography of Power, p. 666.
  8. Sims, "Gustavo Díaz Ordaz", p. 412.
  9. "Mexican Party Picks Candidate", Milwaukee Journal, November 18, 1963, p. 2
  10. Encyclopædia Britannica Yearbook, 1965
  11. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2007). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 319.
  12. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2004). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 423.
  13. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2007). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 335.
  14. Amanece pintado de rojo el busto del presidente Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  15. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 314.
  16. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 327.
  17. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 328.
  18. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 327.
  19. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2004). Historia de México Vol. II,. Pearson Educación de México. p. 430.
  20. Jorge G. Castañeda, Perpetuating Power: How Mexican Presidents were Chosen. New York: The New Press 2000, p. 3
  21. Castañeda, Perpetuating Power, pp. 6-7
Political offices
Preceded by
Adolfo López Mateos
President of Mexico
Succeeded by
Luis Echeverría
Party political offices
Preceded by
Adolfo López Mateos
PRI presidential candidate
1964 (won)
Succeeded by
Luis Echeverría Álvarez
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Adalberto Tejeda Olivares
Mexican Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
José Gómez Gordóa