Gustavo Díaz Ordaz

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 by Luis Echeverría
Senator of the Congress of the Union
for Puebla
In office
1 September 1946 – 31 August 1952
Preceded by Noé Lecona Soto
Succeeded by Luis 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 by Blas Chumacero
Personal details
José Gustavo del Santísimo Sacramento Díaz Ordaz Bolaños

(1911-03-12)12 March 1911
San Andrés, Puebla, Mexico
Died 15 July 1979(1979-07-15) (aged 68)
Cerrada del Risco 133, Jardines del Pedregal,
Mexico City, D.F., Mexico
Resting place Panteón Jardín, Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
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
Profession Politician

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.

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.

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 excercised 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.

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]

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.

Early life and education

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

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

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.

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]

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

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]

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

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


  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

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