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Mexican History: A Review of the Past 80 Years

  • National Revolutionary Party

    National Revolutionary Party
    The National Revolutionary party is formed. In 1946, the name is changed to Industrial Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Generally supported by the popular sectors as an advocate of reform and an instrument of stability, the PRI was founded to represent the forces that had triumphed in the Mexican Revolution and to provide continuity and stability to a country that had been beset with division and violence.
  • Lazaro Cardenas Elected President

    Lazaro Cardenas Elected President
    Cardenas became president and reestablished the ancient ejido system, which established communally shared tracts of farmland. Also, he came to personify the leftist wing of the movement when he distributed more land to peasant collectives than any previous president and when he nationionalized the foreign oil companies in 1938.
  • National Action Party

    National Action Party
    The National Action Party (PAN) was founded in 1939, mostly as a conservative reaction to the PRI, and it has run candidates in most presidential, congressional, and many local elections. It is the conservative party in Mexico, favoring free enterprise and policies more favorable to the Catholic Church. It stressed clean and transparent government, but it had little success in winning elections until the 1980s.
  • Leon Trotsky Murdered

    Leon Trotsky Murdered
    Trotsky was residing in Mexico after being exiled from the Soviet Union for criticizing Stalin. He continued to write and criticize the Soviet Leader, so Stalin had him assassinated. On August 20, Trotsky was attacked by a man wielding an ice pick and dealt the blow that ended his life the next day.
  • Manuel Avila Camacho Elected President

    Manuel Avila Camacho Elected President
    As president, Camacho sought to control the revolutionary fervor of the Cárdenas presidency and oversaw the creation of the Mexican social security system.
  • WWII

    Mexico joins World Ward II by declaring war on Japan and Germany.
  • Miguel Alemán Elected President

    Miguel Alemán Elected President
    Alemán represented the conservative wing of the party and pursued pro-business industrialization policies while largely ignoring the agricultural situation.
  • Adolfo Ruiz Cortines Elected President

    Adolfo Ruiz Cortines Elected President
    During his term as president, Cortines sought to promote a “balanced revolution” between the policies of Cardenas and Aleman.
  • Adolfo Lopez Mateos Elected President

    Adolfo Lopez Mateos Elected President
    Mateos espoused a more leftist approach, but ordered action against rebellious railroad workers to ensure stability and economic growth.
  • Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Elected President

    Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Elected President
    Ordaz adopted pro-business policies during his presidency and was responsible for ordering action against students in 1968 on the eve of the Olympic Games in Mexico.
  • Olympic Massacre

    Olympic Massacre
    A student demonstration in Mexico City is fired upon by Mexican security forces. Hundreds are killed or wounded and the extent of the violence shocks the country.
  • Luis Echeverria Elected President

    Luis Echeverria Elected President
    Echeverria took a more leftist turn in foreign and domestic policy and alienated Mexican businessmen and foreign investors, and economic difficulties culminated with the devaluation of the peso in 1976.
  • Oil reserves found

    Oil reserves found
    Huge offshore oil reserves are found; the Cantarell Feild becomes Mexico's mainstay of oil production.
  • Jose Lopez Portillo Elected President

    Jose Lopez Portillo Elected President
    Initially, Portillo regained the confidence of business sectors and initiated political reforms, but in the face of economic difficulties, he nationalized the banks in 1982, and was forced to negotiate a rescue package in 1982 to deal with an international debt situation that had become unmanageable.
  • Electoral Reform

    Electoral Reform
    An additional 100 seats were added to the Chamber of Deputies and assigned on the basis of proportional representation to all parties with fewer than 60 deputies.
  • Debt Crisis

    Debt Crisis
    Mexico was unable to meet its August 16 obligation to service an $80 billion debt to U.S. commercial banks and other creditors. As a result, the peso crashed and banks were nationalized. Also the beginning of the "lost decade."
  • Miguel de la Madrid Elected President

    Miguel de la Madrid Elected President
    Under his administration, a number of economic
    reforms were begun, including opening the economy to more foreign investment, and privatizing many inefficient state enterprises. With the PAN gaining strength and winning a number of municipalities, the demand for additional electoral reforms was mounting as
  • Neoliberal Reforms

    Neoliberal Reforms
    In 1983, reforms following neolibereal theory (the idea that the solution to poverty and starvation is economic growth) were made and continue to be made today.
  • Mexico City Earthquake

    Mexico City Earthquake
    Kills thousands and makes many more homeless. The government's poor response to the earthquake led to the formation of many autonomous "self-help" ogranizations among poor residents in Mexico City.
  • More Electoral Reform

    More Electoral Reform
    Another 100 seats were added to the Chamber of Deputies, and 200 of the 500 seats were distributed almost entirely to the smaller parties on the basis of proportional representation. Despite the reform, there still were widespread demonstrations and allegations of fraud in a number of elections, particularly in the gubernatorial elections in 1986.
  • Mexico Enters GATT

    Mexico Enters GATT
    Mexico entered the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) treaty, following its efforts of reforming and decentralising its economy.
  • Carlos Salinas de Gotari Elected President

    Carlos Salinas de Gotari Elected President
    The 1988 presidential elections are notoriously well known for the computer crash that took place on July 6, 1988. The systems used to count the votes "crashed" and when it was finally restored, Carlos Salinas was declared the official winner. Even though the elections are extremely controversial, and some declare that Salinas won legally, the expression "the system crashed" became a colloquial euphemism for electoral fraud.
  • Ernesto Ruffo Appel Elected Governor

    Ernesto Ruffo Appel Elected Governor
    PAN won the gubernatorial elections in Baja California, being the first governorship won by the opposition.
  • IFE established

    IFE established
    The Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico (IFE) is a non-partisan organization founded on the principles of bettering Mexican democracy by encouraging electoral participation among Mexican citizens, promoting peaceful and periodic elections and corroborating the legitimacy of election outcomes.

    Mexican Parliament ratifies the North American Free Trade Agreement with the US and Canada, prompting more cooperative relations with neighboring countries on a whole range of trilateral, bilateral and border issues.
  • Chiapas Rebellion

    Chiapas Rebellion
    A guerrilla rebellion in Chiapas by the Zapatista National Liberation Army is suppressed by government troops. The rebels opposed NAFTA and wanted greater recognition for Indian rights.
  • Luis Donaldo Colosio Assassinated

    Luis Donaldo Colosio Assassinated
    At a campaign rally in Lomas Taurinas, a poor neighborhood of Tijuana, Baja California, Colosio was shot in the head and killed. He was a Mexican politician and PRI presidential candidate. Blame was initially laid at the feet of Manuel Camacho, allegedly very upset at having been passed over as Salinas's successor. The finger of suspicion also pointed in the direction of organized crime, particularly the Tijuana drug cartel.
  • Ernesto Zedillo Elected President

    Ernesto Zedillo Elected President
    President Zedillo continued Salinas’ free market policies, but was forced to implement a number of austerity measures to emerge from the very serious 1994-1995 peso devaluation crisis. In other areas, he initiated reform of the police and contained conflict in Chiapas, and he strengthened democracy by relinquishing the prerogative to name the PRI’s presidential candidate.
  • Economic Crisis in Mexico

    Economic Crisis in Mexico
    A sudden devaluation of the Mexican peso in December of 1994 leads to an economic crisis in Mexico, also known as the Debember Mistake. People attribute Salinas De Gortari's policy decisions while in office to be the root cause of the crisis.
  • Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Mayor Elect

    Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Mayor Elect
    Cardenas had been trying for over a decade to end nearly 70 years of one-party rule in Mexico and his victory in the Mayoral election of New Mexico brought that goal a giant step closer.
  • Vicente Fox Elected President

    Vicente Fox Elected President
    If the 1997 election was a historic event, the 2000 election was even more historic, ending the PRI’s 71 years of control of the Presidency. Opposition candidate Vicente Fox
    of the Alliance for Change was elected President.
  • Freedom of Information Law

    Freedom of Information Law
    Millions of secret security files are released, shedding light on the torture and killing by security forces of hundreds of political activists in the 1960s and 1970s. President Fox says his government is not afraid to pursue prosecutions. The new Freedom of Information law creates a more transparent government.
  • Secure Fence Act

    Secure Fence Act
    George W. Bush decides to build a fence separating America from Mexico in an attempt to stop illegal imigration. No one told him that people were capable of climbing fences.
  • Felipe Calderon Elected President

    Felipe Calderon Elected President
    Calderon is a member of PAN and was elected president after the closest election in Mexican history.
  • Drug War Escalates

    Drug War Escalates
    The number of drug-related deaths in 2006 and 2007 more than doubled to 5,207 in 2008. The number further increased substantially over the next two years. Calderon continues to crack down on the drug war.
  • Protest Against Drug Violence

    Protest Against Drug Violence
    Hundreds of thousands join marches throughout Mexico to protest against continuing wave of drugs-related violence. They demand government action against a relentless tide of killings, abductions and shootouts.
  • 2011 Mexican Protests

    2011 Mexican Protests
    Thousands participate in protests across Mexico against drug-related violence. The marches are called by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was murdered in March 2011; protests continue throughout the summer.
  • Josefina Vasquez Mota chosen as presidential candidate for PAN

    Josefina Vasquez Mota chosen as presidential candidate for PAN
    Became the first woman nominated by a major party (National Action Party) to run for president.