Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Bolaños (March 12th, 1911 – July 15th, 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 Bolaños was born in San Andrés Chalchicomula (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 8 February 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 18 November 1963, he became the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Despite facing only token opposition, Díaz Ordaz campaigned as if he were the underdog. He won the presidential election on 7 July 1964.
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. His authoritarian style of governing produced resistance, such as the emergence of a guerrilla movement in the state of Guerrero. Economically, the era of Díaz Ordaz was a time of economic growth. He established the Mexican Institute of Petroleum in 1965, an important step since oil has been one of Mexico's most productive industries.
1968 Tlatelolco Massacre
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 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, 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.
Life After The Dictatorship
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" ("To the people of Spain, do not send that spider.") He died in Mexico City on 15 July 1979 of colorectal cancer.