José López Portillo y Pacheco


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(b. 16 June 1920, d. 17 Feb. 2004).

President of Mexico 1976–82 A professor of jurisprudence, he was an adviser to President Echeverría. Upon his own election he struggled to stabilize the country's economy, despite the discovery of vast new oil reserves and the current high oil prices. In consequence, petroleum earnings increased from $500 million in 1976 to $13 billion in 1981. He squandered much of this wealth, and his government became prone to corruption. Mexico became over-reliant on oil exports, as became clear after 1981 when the decline in oil prices plunged the country into a deep economic crisis, which was made worse by an increase in foreign public debt to $57 billion by 1982. Given the economic hardships suffered by many Mexicans, he sought to defuse tension through political reform. To relax slightly the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) iron grip on power, he guaranteed the opposition a quarter of the seats in an enlarged Chamber of Deputies.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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