Luis Echeverría Álvarez

(b. 1922)

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(b. 17 Jan. 1922).

President of Mexico 1970–6

A professor of jurisprudence, he was general secretary of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institutional, PRI), 1957–68. As Minister of the Interior (1964–70) he was responsible for the brutal suppression of the student riots around the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Yet he realized the need to reduce social tension through reforming the grossly unequal income distribution in Mexican society. As President, he improved the rural infrastructure to benefit the peasants, and for the urban population introduced strict price controls for food, which amounted to a de facto state subsidy. Increased state spending could only be met through increased borrowing, which caused inflation. Yet a stubborn commitment to maintain the exchange rate of an increasingly overvalued peso against the US dollar resulted in a tremendous capital flight which reached panic proportions during the last months of his presidency and finally forced the peso's devaluation by almost 100 per cent. To restore his popularity, less than two weeks before the end of his presidency he expropriated northern landlords for the benefit of landless peasants. His hopes of becoming UN Secretary‐General never materialized.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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