Gustavo Díaz Ordaz

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Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.JPG
49th President of Mexico
In office
1 December 1964 – 30 November 1970
Preceded byAdolfo López Mateos
Succeeded byLuis Echeverría
Secretary of the Interior
In office
1 December 1958 – 16 November 1963
PresidentAdolfo López Mateos
Preceded byÁngel Carvajal Bernal
Succeeded byLuis Echeverría
Chamber of Senators
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
Chamber of Deputies
Deputy of the Congress of the Union
for the 1st district of Puebla
In office
1 September 1943 – 31 August 1946
Preceded byBlas Chumacero
Succeeded byBlas Chumacero
Personal details
BornGustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños
(1911-03-12)12 March 1911
Ciudad Serdán, Puebla, Mexico
Died15 July 1979(1979-07-15) (aged 68)
Mexico City, Mexico
Resting placePanteón Jardín, Mexico City, Mexico
Political partyInstitutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s)Guadalupe Borja
(m. 1937–1974, her death)
Alma materUniversity 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. 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]

Early life and education[edit]

Díaz Ordaz Bolaños was born in San Andrés Chalchicomula (now Ciudad Serdán, Puebla). His father, Ramón Díaz Ordaz Redonet, worked as an accountant. His mother, Sabina Bolaños Cacho de Díaz Ordaz, worked as a school teacher.

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[edit]

In 1943, he became a federal deputy for the first district of the state of Puebla, and he 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 18 November 1963, he became the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).[4] Despite facing only token opposition, Díaz Ordaz campaigned as if he were the underdog.[5] 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[edit]

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.[6] His authoritarian style of governing produced resistance such as the emergence of a guerrilla movement in the state of Guerrero.[7] Economically, the era of Díaz Ordaz was a time of economic growth.[8] 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[edit]

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.[9]

Attempt to democratize the PRI[edit]

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.[10]

Foreign policy[edit]

United States[edit]

During the administration of Díaz Ordaz, relations with the US were largely harmonic, and several bilateral treaties were formed.[11] 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.[12] Mexico also embraced the doctrine of nonintervention, and Díaz Ordaz condemned the US invasion of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.[13]

Treaty of Tlatelolco[edit]

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.[14]

Later life[edit]

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 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 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[edit]


  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.


  1. ^ "The ghosts of Mexico 1968". 24 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Mexico and the United States".
  4. ^ "Mexican Party Picks Candidate", Milwaukee Journal, November 18, 1963, p. 2
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Yearbook, 1965
  6. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2007). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 319.
  7. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2004). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 423.
  8. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2007). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 335.
  9. ^ Amanece pintado de rojo el busto del presidente Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 314.
  11. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 327.
  12. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 328.
  13. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación de México. p. 327.
  14. ^ Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2004). Historia de México Vol. II,. Pearson Educación de México. p. 430.

External links[edit]

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