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Gustavo Diaz Ordaz

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Gustavo Diaz Ordaz

For the municipality, see Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas.

Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
President of Mexico
In office
December 1, 1964 – November 30, 1970
Preceded by Adolfo López Mateos
Succeeded by Luis Echeverría
Governor of Puebla
In office
Preceded by Carlos I. Betancourt
Succeeded by Gonzalo Bautista Castillo
Personal details
Born Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños
(1911-03-12)March 12, 1911
Ciudad Serdán, Puebla
Died July 15, 1979(1979-07-15) (aged 68)
Mexico City
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s) Guadalupe Borja
Religion Roman Catholic

Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños (March 12, 1911 – July 15, 1979) served as the President of Mexico from 1964 to 1970.

Political career

Díaz Ordaz was born in San Andrés Chalchícomula (present-day 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. 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 to 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 to 1952. He served as the Secretary of Government in the cabinet of president Adolfo López Mateos from 1958 to 1964. On December 1, 1963, he became the presidential 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, 1964.

Presidential term

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 ISSSTE, especially residents and interns, had organized a strike to demand better working conditions and an increased salary.[1] His authoritarian style of governing produced resistance, such as the emergence of a guerrilla movement in the state of Guerrero.[2] Economically, the era of Díaz Ordaz was a time of economic growth.[3]

Student movement

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 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 Díaz Ordaz's successors, and ordinary Mexicans view the assault on unarmed students as an atrocity. The stain of Tlatelolco would remain on PRI rule for many years.

Every year, in the Anniversary of the Tlatelolco, in Zapopan Jalisco, the statue of the President is vandalized by throwing at it a bucket of red paint.[4]

Attempt to democratize the PRI

Díaz Ordaz authoritian 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.[5]

Foreign Policy

United States

During the administration of Díaz Ordaz relations with the US were largely harmonic and several bilateral treaties were formed.[6] However, there also existed some points of conflict with the US. One is the Operation Intercept, an anti-drug trafficking operation conducted by the US. Between September and October 1969 all vehicles entering the US from Mexico were inspected.[7] Mexico embraced the doctrine of non-intervention and Díaz Ordaz condemned the US invasion into Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.[8]

Treaty of Tlatelolco

Under the administration of Díaz Ordaz the Treaty of Tlatelolco was formed. The treaty prohibited the production, possession and utilization of nuclear weapons in Latin America and only allowed the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The treaty made Latin America a nuclear weapon-free zone. [9]

Life after the Presidency

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), seldom gave 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, relations between the two countries having previously been broken due to the triumph of Falangism in the Spanish Civil War. During his brief stint as Ambassador, he met with a lot of 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, due to this as well as health problems. Popular discontent led to a catchy phrase: "Al pueblo de España no le manden esa araña" (Don't send the people of Spain that spider). He died in Mexico City on July 15, 1979 of colorectal cancer.


  1. Camp, Roderic A. Mexican Political Biographies. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona, 1982.
  2. Smith, Peter H., "Mexico Since 1946: Dynamics of an Authoritarian Regime," in Bethell, Leslie, ed., Mexico Since Independence. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. 1991.


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

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