1947 - 2016

From 1920 to 2000 and again in 2013, Mexico was ruled by the contradictory named Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institutional) which started out with some radical social policies, such as the redistribution of 400,000 sq km from large landowners to peasants from the 1920s to the 1960s, but became conservative and corrupt over time . Anger at the PRI's corruption exploded in the Tlateloco massacre of 1968 which left an estimated 400 protesters dead . Mexican cynicism with the PRI grew after a mysterious computer failure during vote counting during the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari  (1988-94) along with assassinations and huge growth in the drug trade as the U.S. cracked down on the Colombian drug cartels .

Today almost all cocaine in the U.S. comes through Mexico,as do most meth amphetamines and foreign grown marijuana . In the 1990s, three main drug gangs emerged, each controlling a section of the U.S.-Mexican border . Salinas spent most of Mexico's foreign exchange reserves in a failed attempt to support the peso, which led to an economic slump . Clamor for a democratic change led to the election of a non-PRI party president in 2000 the PAN (Partido Accion Nacional) with Vicente Fox, who was hamstrung by the PRI controlled Congress from implementing major reforms. His successor, Felipe Calderon, started a stronger crack down on the estimated $13~50 billion a year drug trade, going after drug cartel leaders and leaving an estimated 60~100,000 dead .

Mexico experienced many economic booms and busts depending on the price of oil,  during this period, and ended the century with a larger middle class, but greater wealth disparity . Mexico is the sixth-largest oil producer in the world. Pemex is the largest company in Mexico . The oil sector is crucial to the Mexican economy; while its importance has been reduced in recent years, oil revenues generate over 10% of Mexico's export earnings . Mexico is one of the largest suppliers of oil to the United States . Oil production in Mexico is declining as the oil industry is state controlled and a cash cow for the government and provides the Mexican government with 32% of its revenues. In order for Mexican oil production to expand, foreign investment would have to be encouraged . Mexico nationalized its oil industry in 1938.

Population growth from 20 million in 1940 to 115 million in 2012 has placed strains on the economy . Education has led to a slowing of population growth, in 1970, the average Mexican woman gave birth to 7 children, by the 2010s it is down to 2.3 . As a result of population pressure and economic pressures, an estimated 15 million Mexicans are now legally and illegally in the U.S. The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world  according to the World Bank. Mexican GDP per person was $15,100, higher than any other Latin American country except Chile, according to the CIA Factbook.


Mexico's economy is growing solidly - 5.5% last year (2012) - and optimistic expectations continue well into this year, a healthy recovery from the effect the US recession had on its neighbor's economy. Some argue that even if Mexico's economy is showing good signs, the drug war could be preventing it from growing even more.


The worlds richest man, telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu (born Jan 28, 1940) is in danger of losing this title as Mexico telecom monopolies are under pressure to allow competition . His corporate holdings as of March 2013 have been estimated at US$73 billion .


Miguel Aleman 1947 - 52


Miguel Aleman was the first civilian president since Carranza . Postwar Mexico was prosperous and booming . Mexico had a healthy surplus after the war and Aleman launched a number of large public works projects such as the Morelos and Falcon Dams helped increase agricultural output , irrigate vast tracts of land and tripled Mexico's electrical capacity by 1952 .The railway was modernized and the Mexican segment of the Pan-American Highway was finished in 1951 . Women were allowed to vote in 1952 .Pemex built new refineries and pipeline and doubled its production from 1946 to 1952 .Aleman used his influence to help bring the 1968 Olympics to Mexico .



Video of the Pan-American Highway,

1940s, good shots of 1940s Mexico


Mexico: Biography of Power - A History of Modern Mexico 1810-1996


The main library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, cover with murals by Juan O'Gorman. Because of corruption, there were no books on the bookshelves. Money for books had been 'diverted.'


A new University City was built to house the National University in 1952, one of the most modern in the world at the time . America was able to count on Mexican support in the Cold War and loans from the Import-Export Bank flowed into Mexico . However, all was not well . There was large scale corruption, strikes were suppressed by the army and the pay of teachers was so low that there were not enough to staff the new schools .and fewer than half of school age children went to school .


Ruiz Cortines 1952 - 58


Cortines began to confront  the problem of corruption of the past administration . The Mexican economy continued to do well and a devaluation of the Peso in 1953 helped stabilize the country and bring in more investment . Afraid that Aleman may have overtaxed the economy with his huge projects, he did not undertake and new large projects . The population of Mexico had doubled in 30 years to 32,000,000 and people poured into the cities , but being a Catholic country, the issue of birth control was skirted around .


Adolfo Mateos  1958- 64



Mateos was one of Mexico's most popular postwar presidents . Many young Mexicans  identified with the young Mateos (47) much as young Americans of this generation did with J.F.K. He continued land redistribution, nationalized foreign utility concessions and movie industries by buying controlling stock, implemented new social welfare and rural education programs .While he was more leftist leaning than Cortines, Communists were not tolerated and arrested .Strong economic growth continued. Large housing projects were started to deal with house the numerous people flocking to the cities , some of the largest housing 100,000 people .Industry was given incentives to locate away from Mexico City .In 1960, the urban population surpassed the rural population . Mateos maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba after Castro took over, much to the chagrin of the US . The Chamizal border issue with the US was solved where the Rio Grande had changed course south by returning the land to question to Mexico and making a concrete lined channel in the area .Criticism of the one party system continued to grow during the Mateos administration as the electorate grew sophisticated.In response, Mateos added an amendment to the Constitution to make it easier for opposition parties to gain ground . Almost as soon as he left office he suffered a stroke and lay in a coma until his death in 1970 .


Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey

Through a Country's Descent into Darkness 

 Anyone interested in what is happening and has happened

in Mexico for the past six years must read this book.


Gustavo Diaz Ordaz  1964 - 70

Ordaz was a conservative with an agenda that favored business and the economy grew 6% and the tourist trade greatly increased . But he is most remember for his suppression of civil liberties during the turbulent late 60s . Diaz had fired the reform minded president of the PRI, Carlos Madrazo and annulled elections where opposition parties won mayoral elections in Tijuana and Mexicalli . Students at the National University were the first to organize protests and many university campuses exploded in violence and strikes, sometimes with federal troops being called in .

Tlatelolco massacre





The Tlatelolco massacre, also known as The Night of Tlatelolco, was a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place during the afternoon and night of October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City. The violence occurred ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics celebrations in Mexico City.



 1968 Olympic Games Mexico City

Mexico won the bid to host the summer games of 1968 . In July 26, 1968 leftist students gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, which was met with riot police and erupted into a large street riot . In the following days there were more riots. Huge demonstrations were held on many universities . On August 27, there was a huge demonstration of half a million people and the government moved tanks and troops in , the following clash led to some deaths.In September students occupied many buildings and threatening to disrupt he Olympics .Diaz ordered troops into the buildings .and 500 demonstrators were put in jail .For two weeks bands of students roamed the streets, barricading streets and burning buses . On October 2, 1968 another strike was called for at Tlatelolco. After the rally ended and the demonstrators failed to disband, the army used tear gas and clubs .The army claimed they were fired upon and opened up with their machine guns. However it started, several hundred people were killed .

Despite this, the Olympic Games themselves were free of violence. On Oct 1969 on the anniversary of Tlatelolco, underground groups set off bombs at government offices and government buildings .


Ordaz launched the Border Industrialization Program in which maquiladoras established next to the border that assembled goods .Raw materials from US factories were assembled by low wage workers and exported duty free to Mexico.

Luis Echeverría  1970 - 76

Echeverría, former secretary of the interior, became president in 1970 .Caught in the inflation of the early 70s, he tried to order price controls on basic items . He was one of the first presidents to give an endorsement of birth control . The unemployed went to the big cities and started squatter towns. One of the largest, outside Mexico City had a population of 2 million in the 1980s. The government was forced to recognize it and it was named Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl .Many started to go to America illegally. The official bracero program ended in 1964 .

Robberies and kidnappings , the bane of other Latin American countries, started in Mexico by guerrilla groups and there was insurrection in Guerrero that took a year to put down . During his period, the country's external debt soared from $6 billion in 1970 to $20 billion in 1976. This caused the ruling party, at least in terms of its economic policies, to gradually lose prestige at home and abroad. In September, 1976, the Peso was devalued 60 % and a month later it was devalued a further 40%. By 1974, about 70,000 Mexicans worked in 450 maquiladoras. By the 1970s the population of the boder towns such as Ciudad Jarez surged .Since 1973, maquiladoras have also accounted for nearly half of Mexico’s export assembly. Wages were low and workers conditions were bad .Despite this and the building of a booming tourist industry in the Yucatan, Echeverría was unable to remake the state led economic miracle of the postwar years.

Jose Lopez Portillo 1976 - 82

Jose Portillo came to power during the jump in oil prices during the oil embargo and the sudden world oil glut that sent Mexico into recession .His opponents internationally and domestically accused López Portillo of "rampant corruption," "excessive overseas borrowing," galloping inflation (which continued with his successor), and responsibility for devaluations of the peso.In September, 1976, to make exports more competitive, the Peso was devaluated 60 % and a month later it was devalued a further 40%.¡Defenderé el peso como un perro! – "I will defend the peso like a dog!" It earned him the nickname 'El perro' (The dog) and having people barking at him.

 In 1974, huge new oil reserves were found in Chiapas and Tabasco, with the rising oil prices after the OPEC embargo, suddenly Mexico was a wealthy nation .In 1982 oil made up 78% of imports . Plans were made to make Mexico self-sufficient in food production and billions of dollars were invested in rural development .Despite the oil boom, by the end of the Lopez administration, the trade deficit approached 12 billion dollars and was 18 % of the GDP by 1982. The total debt climbed to 80 billion dollars .The oil prices fell and the economy was devastated .Mexico could not meet its debt repayments. The US federal Reserve and the IMF stepped in to bail Mexico out .

Miguel de la Madrid  1982 - 86

During his tenure, the economy only made weak progress, crushed by the huge debt from the oil boom years .Madrid was not as free as his predecessors to manage the economy with the restrictions placed by the world Bank and the IMF .The Peso was devalued again and fell from 80 to 155 Pesos to the dollar .Price controls were lifted on thousand of commodities and bread, for example, increased 100% in price .Public spending was cut by one third .Mexico renegotiated its debts and had to commit 53% of the federal budget to repayments. Even thought the economy contracted an estimated 6% yearly in the 80s, foreign investors and banks were encouraged to invest in Mexico again by the government actions .

On Sept 19, 1985 , a 8.1 earthquake devastated Mexico City and the next day a 7.3 earthquake hit and killed at least 10,000 and caused more than $4 billion in damage .Over 100,000 were left homeless .Madrid's The government was slow to respond and grassroots movements sprang up.Madrid's popularity was severely damaged .More loans were necessary to deal with the problem and the national debt soared to 96 billion dollars .


This video documents the health problems and relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquakes of September 19 and 20, 1985. The first earthquake (8.1 in the Richter scale) left more than 10,000 people dead or missing and thousands more injured

There were now violent protests against the PRI for corruption, fraud and strong arm election tactics .Inflation increased on an average of 100% a year. During de la Madrid's presidency, he introduced liberal economic reforms that encouraged foreign investment, and widespread privatizations of outdated state-run industries and reduction of tariffs, a process that continued under his successors. He joined the removed protective tariffs from many products to be able to join the GATT ( General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ) in 1986 .

Hoping to regain the popularity lost after the earthquake, Madrid started a policy to deal corruption and the demands people always faced for mordidas or bribes .Some progress was made with political corruption as well, and the conservative opposition party PAN was permitted to win some elections .

Carlos Salinas de Gortari  1988 - 1994

In the election of 1988, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas on the new FDN party, was believed to have gotten more votes than the PRI candidate, Carlos Salinas . But vote counting was interrupted by a mysterious computer failure. In the end Salinas won with barely over 50%. Salinas  transformed Mexico's state dominated economy into one of private enterprise and free trade , the high point of which was the NAFTA agreement . During this time, Colombian drug cartels increased their trafficking routes through Mexico to avoid US interdiction in the Caribbean .

Masked ELZN fighters

In 1994 a new Zapatista uprising , EZLN, started in Chiapas against corruption, Indian abuse and its own government . Their main spokesperson is Subcomandante Marcos .The group takes its name from Emiliano Zapata, the anarchist commander of the Liberation Army of the South during the Mexican Revolution, and thus see themselves as his ideological heirs.It was led by The president responded with military repression, but reports of the national and international media , forcing a change in government policy and a negotiation through the church .

 CORRIDOS SIN ROSTRO is an exceptional documentary film shot in Mexico, about the 1994 historical uprising of the Zapatistas, the last Mayans of the state of Chiapas. This film is a reference work about the life of the "men and women without a face", these masked peasants who took on the fight for the dignity of the Indigenous people, resurrecting the fair cause of "Land and Liberty". Subcomandante Marcos, the charismatic rebel leader, narrates "the Legend of the People of Corn " and the Band of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation sing "Corridos", popular ballads honoring the heroes of the 1917 revolution


Also in 1994, Salinas' chosen successor, Luis Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana . He reformed the Clerical Laws which had forbidden Catholic priests from voting, and established a new relationship between State and Church, which had been severely damaged after the Cristero War. The new laws also allowed the Catholic churches to own their own buildings.

Mexican drug war

He has been vilified for the economic crisis Mexico plunged into after he left office . Salinas privatized Telmex and 400 other state owned businesses, the government owned provider of telecommunications service and placed the owner of the newly formed company into the name of a formerly unknown person by the name of Carlos Slim Helú. Debts repayments was reduced to 29% of the GDP and the economy grew 5 %in 1991 . During Salinas' term drug trafficking grew into a huge business after the UD crackdown on shipments from Columbia .Salinas and his advisors pursued a policy of allowing the Peso to become highly overvalued and led to a run on the Peso in December 1994 and the spending of most of Mexico's foreign reserves to support the Peso .Because of large scale corruption and the assassination of Ruiz Massieu which led to the arrest of Salinas brother Raul, Salinas has become one of the most reviled figures in Mexican history, behind Cortes and Diaz . In 1997 he moved to  Ireland, which does not have an extradition treaty with Mexico . Many Mexicans feel corruption has bankrupted the country. Raul Salinas is estimated to have $300 million abroad .Some allege that the huge prices paid during the privatization shows drug money was involved .


Narco Music is the Soundtrack to the Mexican War on Drugs. Mexico's narcocorrido music genre and subculture openly celebrates the most extreme aspects of the country's drug war.

Ernesto Zedillo  1994 - 2000

Within days of taking office, the Peso suddenly collapsed , known as the December Mistake, and led to an economic recession . The crisis ended after a series of reforms and actions led by Zedillo. US president Bill Clinton granted a $50 billion loan to Mexico, which helped in one of Zedillo's initiatives to rescue the banking system. Foreign ad Mexican investors withdrew billions from Mexico, putting the country in an economic tailspin . He replaced en masse the notoriously corrupt supreme court. Zedillo was able to make some headway against Mexico's crime lords . He reformed politics so that power was peacefully transferred to a non PRI successor, Vicente Fox .

Vicente Fox 2000 - 2006

Fox was Mexico's first non PRI president . In 2000, Vicente Fox decided to run for President of Mexico. In spite of opposition within his party, Fox secured his candidacy representing the Alliance for Change, a political coalition formed by the National Action Party and the Ecological Green Party of Mexico.Vicente Fox was one of the few Presidents to avoid a major economic upheaval during office, however economy grew at a slow pace .GDP growth dropped to an average an average of 2.2% during Fox's administration. Since globalization has contributed to the competition and advent of low-cost offshore assembly in places like Taiwan, China, and countries in Central America, maquiladoras in Mexico have been on the decline since 2000: According to federal sources, approximately 529 maquiladoras shut down and investment in assembly plants decreased by 8.2 percent in 2002.


Former Mexican President Vicente Fox talks about immigration, a common currency for North America and much more. Fox also talked about his book "Revolution of Hope".

Felipe Calderón 2006 - Nov 30, 2012

On July 6, 2006, the Federal Electoral Institute announced the official vote count in the 2006 presidential election, resulting in a narrow margin of 0.58% for Calderón over his closest contender, PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. However, López Obrador and his coalition alleged irregularities in a number of polling stations and demanded a national recount.On September 5, 2006,unanimously declared president-elect by the tribunal Calderón has also stated that the challenge is not between the political left or right, but a choice between "the past and the future." In his interpretation, moving toward "the past" would mean nationalization, expropriation, state control of the economy, and authoritarianism, while "the future" would represent the contrary: privatization, liberalization, market control of the economy, and political freedom


Why Mexico, a resource-rich nation, has become trapped in low growth is a story of political paralysis where entrenched monopolies remain in control, the schools fail to educate, and the development policies all but enslave workers in a cycle of poverty that threatens to trap future generations as well.

June 12, 2012

Enrique Peña Nieto  Dec 1, 2012 - Nov 30, 2018

 Enrique Pena Nieto is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and was Governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. Peña Nieto was declared President-elect after the 2012 general election was declared valid by the Federal Electoral Tribunal, amidst some accusations of electoral fraud.  His election as President marks the return to power of the  PRI, the party that ruled Mexican politics for 71 consecutive years, reflecting a feeling that the removal of the PRI from power for 12 years led to greater violence in Mexico. He also pledged that he will continue to fight organized crime and that there will be no pacts with the drug cartels by focusing on lowering murder rates, kidnappings, and extortion , as opposed to arresting or killing the country's most-wanted drug lords and intercepting their drug shipments to  the United States . A new gendarmerie, with an initial strength of 10,000, is being deployed to Mexico's most dangerous areas, while the Federal Police will be focusing on investigating crime.  To get decrees the power of the cartels, Nieto wishes to increase security spending from 1.5% of GDP to 5% . He would draft 40,000 soldiers into the police departments to fight the drug cartels and crime .



 RT reports on Enrique Peña Nieto as New President



The student movement *YoSoy132 ( I am 132 ) . Yo Soy 132 is an ongoing Mexican protest movement centered around the democratization of the country and its media. It began as opposition to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican media's allegedly biased coverage of the 2012 general election.



 US Policy Helped Create a Land of Government Corruption and Narco Gangs



Enrique Peña Nieto's book "México, la gran esperanza" (Mexico, the great hope), showing his views on growing the Mexican economy and reducing violence .



 Jan 16, 2015 Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto met with President Obama on issues such as immigration and Cuban relations, but his visit to Washington comes amid a number of challenges, including allegations of corruption and public outrage over high-profile mass murders. Judy Woodruff learns more from Carlos Bravo Regidor of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.


   Andrés Manuel López Obrador   Dec 1 2018 - present


Andrés Manuel López Obrador also known as AMLO from his initials, was elected in 2018 . The former left wing mayor of Mexico City has vowed to fight corruption and promised to serve only one term . The economic shutdown from the Covid pandemic led to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression .

 Former mayor of Mexico City Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2018. But Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's road to the presidency was anything but easy . Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, first had to prevail over the incumbent Mexican administration, run by the PRI, a political party that has governed Mexico for most of the last century. After numerous corruption scandals and a failed war on drugs that’s killed almost 200,000 people since 2006, AMLO was hoping the Mexican people were hungry for change.  The multitude of crises in Mexico seemingly confirmed issues that AMLO had been discussing for decades, vindicating his agenda and making him the clear frontrunner for the 2018 election.  Throughout the campaign, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador built a broad coalition. His party MORENA, ran candidates who had formerly belonged to Mexico’s other, more dominant political parties. AMLO-mania was so strong during the campaign, that vendors began selling flags and masks with AMLO’s image on them. 

Report on Covid in Mexico in 2022 . 


 The richest man in the world at the time, Carlos Slim talks to Larry King




 Mexico's war on drugs has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people in the past decade. Countless attempts by authorities to stem the violence have so far failed. Mexico's President, Enrico Pena Nieto promised a lower-profile approach to tackling the cartels, focusing on local level gang members.



 On September 26, 2014 students from the Teachers College of Ayotzinapa in Mexico en route to a protest in Iguala were intercepted by police forces. In the ensuing clash, six students were fatally shot and 43 were abducted. Investigations over the following weeks led to the startling allegations that the police had acted at the behest of the local mayor, and had turned over the abducted students to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel.



 Between Borders: American Migrant Crisis

From Central America, thousands of children fleeing poverty and danger make multiple attempts to reach the United States despite increased efforts by Mexico to turn them back.



Drug Lord:The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin

An expose of the connections between crime and government in Mexico, this is the story of Pablo Acosta, the notorious scar-faced Mexican drug lord



World War II




Mexican history time line