Adolfo Ruiz Cortines
Ruiz Cortines, c. 1952-1958
54th President of Mexico
In office
1 December 1952 (1952-12-01) – 30 November 1958 (1958-11-30)
Preceded byMiguel Alemán Valdés
Succeeded byAdolfo López Mateos
Secretary of the Interior
In office
30 June 1948 – 30 October 1951
PresidentMiguel Alemán Valdés
Preceded byErnesto P. Uruchurtu
Succeeded byErnesto P. Uruchurtu
Governor of Veracruz
In office
1 December 1944 – April 1948
Preceded byJorge Cerdán Lara
Succeeded byÁngel Carvajal Bernal
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
for Veracruz′s 3rd district
In office
1 September 1937 – 9 September 1937
Preceded byÓscar Fano Viniegra
Succeeded byAntonio Pulido
Personal details
Born
Adolfo Tomás Ruiz Cortines

(1889-12-30)30 December 1889
Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico
Died3 December 1973(1973-12-03) (aged 83)
Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico
Cause of deathHeart failure
Political partyInstitutional Revolutionary Party
Spouses
Lucía Carrillo
(m. 1915; div. 1935)
(m. 1941)
Military service
Branch/service Mexican Army
UnitRevolutionary Forces

Adolfo Tomás Ruiz Cortines[1] (Spanish pronunciation: [aˈðolfo ˈrwis koɾˈtines] 30 December 1889 – 3 December 1973) was a Mexican politician who served as President of Mexico from 1952 to 1958. A member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), he previously served as Governor of Veracruz and Secretary of the Interior. During his presidency, which constituted the Mexican Miracle, women gained the right to vote, and he instigated numerous public health, education, infrastructure, and works projects.

A member of the Constitutional Army, Ruiz Cortines was the last Mexican president to have fought in the Mexican Revolution. [2] He worked at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce during the administration of Adolfo de la Huerta and served as an official in the Department of Statistics from 1921 to 1935. Ruiz Cortines joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party and became Senior Official of the Government of the Federal District in 1935 and member of the Chamber of Deputies for Veracruz in 1937. In 1939 he was appointed treasurer of the presidential campaign of Manuel Ávila Camacho and worked as Governor of Veracruz from 1944 to 1948, a position he left to become Secretariat of the Interior during the administration of Miguel Alemán Valdés.[3]

Ruiz Cortines protested as presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1951 and was elected a year later, after winning the disputed 1952 elections. During his administration, he put forward a reform to Article 34 of the Mexican Constitution, giving women the right to vote, and proposed several infrastructure bills, leading to the creation of the National Housing Institute and the National Nuclear Energy Commission. His social policies included the implementation of aguinaldos. Unlike previous administrations from the PRI, he was an advocate of fiscal austerity. His administration was noted for increased transparency in contrast to his predecessor.

One of the oldest presidents of Mexico, Ruiz Cortines has been credited with leading a strong economy during the period known as the "Mexican miracle", and has been praised for personal integrity and increasing confidence in the government through his anti-corruption policies.[4][5] He was criticized for slower implementation of reforms than some of his predecessors.[4] He has been ranked among the most popular Mexican presidents of the 20th century.[6][7]

Early life and education

María Cortines Cotera with her children María and Adolfo in a photograph taken in 1895.

Adolfo Tomás Ruiz Cortines was born on 30 December 1889 at 3:00 pm,[8] in the state of Veracruz, into a family of Andalusian descent.[9] His father, Adolfo Ruiz Tejada (1851–1889), regidor of Veracruz during the Porfiriato, died two and a half months prior to his birth. His mother was María Cortines de la Cotera (1859–1932).[10] Ruiz's grandfather was José Ruiz y Gómez de la Parra, better known as José Ruiz Parra, a member of the State of Veracruz's first Congress in 1824, who co-wrote the state's constitution. José Ruiz Parra was president of the junta that ruled over the Port of Alvarado during the American Invasion of Veracruz, having to personally sign the surrender of the port in 1847. He was also reputed for organizing fundraisers in favor of the Mexican Army during the Second French Invasion of Mexico, as well as for his deep involvement in the education of the local children. José Ruiz Parra was the maternal grandson of Isidro Gómez de la Parra, subdelegado of the Spanish Crown to the province of Tuxtlas (appointed by Bernardo de Gálvez, viceroy of the New Spain), and of his wife Dominga Casado de Toro y Tamariz, herself a descendant of the Luna y Arellano family, holders of the hereditary title of Mariscal de Castilla.

Ruiz Cortines at the age of 10, c. 1899.

Because of his father's premature death, Ruiz Cortines was raised and educated by his mother.[3] María Cortines de la Cotera was the daughter of Diego Francisco Cortines y Gutiérrez de Celis (1829, Bielva, Cantabria, Spain), and María Dolores de la Cotera y Calzada (1824, Veracruz, Mexico), whose father was from Peñarrubia, also in Cantabria. His mother taught him to read and write at the age of 3. Later, he entered a school directed by Joaquín Jerónimo Díaz and Florencio Veyro, called Escuela Amiga, but did his secondary educational studies at the Colegio de los Jesuitas, and at the age twelve, he attended the reputed Instituto Veracruzano, famously directed by the poet Salvador Díaz Mirón. Adolfo learned from his mentors about liberalism, a political principle he would apply during his entire political career. In addition, it was at school where he acquired his fanatical interest in baseball. He always wanted to attend a university, but the American Invasion of 1914 forced him to abandon his studies. His first job was as an accounting assistant at a commercial textile company.[3]

Military career

During the Mexican Revolution

In 1909, Ruiz read the book La sucesión presidencial de 1910 (The Presidential Succession of 1910) published that year by Francisco I. Madero, the leader of the opposition against President Porfirio Díaz. This book motivated Ruiz's interest in politics. In 1910, the Mexican Revolution started and he became inspired by several of its main players such as Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa. Because of this influence, in 1912 at the age of 23, he moved to Mexico City. During his stay in Mexico City, President Madero was assassinated and General Victoriano Huerta took power. Since Ruiz Cortines was opposed to the Huerta government, considered by a broad group of Mexicans as a usurper, he volunteered alongside other former students of the Instituto Veracruzano, under the command of Alfredo Robles, a right hand of the leader of the Constitutionalist faction, General Venustiano Carranza. Robles was in charge of the anti-Huerta forces in the south and center of Mexico.[3] Ruiz Cortines did see military action in the Battle of El Ébano, but his main task was as a bookkeeper and paymaster. In 1920, Carranza was attempting to flee the country after his defeat by Sonoran generals Adolfo de la Huerta, Álvaro Obregón, and Plutarco Elías Calles, who rejected Carranza's attempt to impose his successor, and took with him a large amount of the national treasure (150 million pesos in gold). When the generals captured his train and the national treasure's gold, it was the young and trusted officer, Major Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, who received it and delivered it safely and in presence of a notary to General de la Huerta in Mexico City.[11]

Post-Revolution and resignation

He continued to serve in the army after the revolution ended. In 1926, he requested and was granted retirement.[2]

Early political career

Ruiz Cortines, c.1920s

With his reputation for precise accounting and bookkeeping, a reputation for honesty, and credentials as a veteran of the Mexican Revolution, there were several options open to him in the 1920s. He served in the government's Department of National Statistics. He took classes in statistics from Daniel Cosío Villegas, who was then a young teacher and later an important historian of Mexico. Ruiz Cortines argued in publications that the Department of National Statistics should be an autonomous agency.[12]

Ruiz Cortines, c.1930s

In 1935 during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas, Ruiz Cortines's political career began at age 45, as the director in charge of Mexico City. It was during that time that he met Miguel Alemán Valdés, son of a revolutionary soldier, now a young lawyer who would later become president of Mexico (1946–1952). In 1940, Ruiz Cortines managed the presidential campaign of Cárdenas's choice as successor, Manuel Avila Camacho.[13] Miguel Alemán asked Ruiz to join him as his sub-secretary because of their personal friendship. This position gave Ruiz the opportunity to gain influence within the Institutional Revolutionary Party. After several years, the PRI designated him as candidate for governor of Veracruz.[3]

Governor of Veracruz

In December 1944, Adolfo Ruiz Cortines became governor of Veracruz.[14] During his administration, he expanded public education in the state. Some of the institutions he founded were the Technical Studies Institute (Departamento para Estudios Técnicos) which provided people with a practical education that allowed them to improve their quality of life. Furthermore, he founded the Institute of Anthropology and the State Planning Committee, among others. He also modified the local constitution to allow women to participate in the local and municipal elections. He built roads and bridges to develop Veracruz's infrastructure since it was one of the main ports of Mexico at that time.[15]

Secretary of the Interior

On February 12, 1948, Alemán Valdés' Secretary of the Interior, Héctor Pérez Martínez [es], died in office, and Alemán Valdés needed to fill the position.[16][17] Manuel Ávila Camacho recommended Ruiz Cortines, to which Alemán Valdés agreed.[18][19] It was in this position that Ruiz Cortines distinguished himself and became a contender for the next presidential election.

Presidential nomination and campaign

Main article: 1952 Mexican general election

Ruiz Cortines campaigned with the slogan "austeridad y trabajo" ("austerity and work")

In 1951, Miguel Alemán Valdés expressed his desire to be allowed to serve a second term, but Lázaro Cárdenas and Manuel Ávila Camacho had former president Abelardo L. Rodríguez tell Alemán Valdés that they didn't think, "extension of the presidential term or re-election is convenient for the country."[19] On 14 October 1951, Ruiz Cortines was named candidate for the presidency by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) by the incumbent president, as had become practice.[20] The PRI was the dominant party and Ruiz Cortines's electoral victory was entirely expected.

Pennant for Ruiz Cortines's campaign

Ruiz Cortines is believed to have been chosen due to his more bland image in contrast to Alemán's more colorful personality, and was not seen as divisive to differin sectors of the PRI. Reportedly, Ruiz Cortines accepted the nomination, but he "apparently did not seek it and certainly did not intrigue to secure it." However, by September, Ruiz Cortines' base of support within the party had grown considerably, and included many young senators such as Adolfo López Mateos and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz.[21] His campaign began on October 14, 1951, with his slogan being "austerity and work."[22] In one of his first speaking events during his campaign, he stated to around 20,000 women in attendance, "If the vote favors us in the next elections, we intend to initiate before the Chambers the necessary legal reforms so that women enjoy the same political rights as men," a campaign promise he would later fulfill with an amendment to Article 34 of the Constitution.[23]

General Miguel Henríquez Guzmán, formerly of the PRI, who had twice before attempted to secure the party's presidential nomination,[24] was the candidate of the Federation of the Mexican People's Parties.[25] His support was in largely urban areas, and included Cárdenas supporters alienated during Alemán Valdés' presidency, established military men, and members of the middle class who desired a multi-party democracy.[26]

The National Action Party, eventually the PRI's largest political opposition party, first participated in this election, nominating Efraín González Luna [es].[27] Vicente Lombardo Toledano was the Popular Socialist Party's candidate.[28][29]

The election took place on July 7, 1952.[30] When the results were announced, it was revealed that Ruiz Cortines won, with 74.31% of the popular vote (2,713,419 votes). Henríquez Guzmán won 15.87% (579,745 votes), González Luna won 7.82% (285,555 votes), and Lombardo Toledano won 1.98% (72,482 votes).[31][14]

The day after the election, Henríquez Guzmán's supporters gathered in the Alameda Central park in Mexico City to protest reported electoral fraud, including the theft of ballot boxes. The government suppressed the peaceful protests, with an estimated 200 being killed, and more forced disappearances and arrests of people related to the protestors occurring in the following days.[32]

President of Mexico

Inauguration

Official presidential portrait, December 1st, 1952

On 1 December 1952, he assumed the presidency of the republic, [33] at age 62.[14] In his inaugural address, Ruiz Cortines pledged that fighting corruption in the government and in business would be key aspects of his administration,[34] and that he would continue to maintain close relations with the United States.[35]

Administration

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Government of Adolfo Ruiz Cortines[citation needed]
OfficeNameTerm
Foreign AffairsLuis Padilla Nervo1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
Public EducationJaime Torres Bodet1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
Finance and Public CreditAntonio Carrillo Flores1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
National DefenseMatías Ramos1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
National AssetsJosé López Lira1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
EconomyGilberto Loyo1 December 1952 – 30 November 1958
Labor and Social WelfareAdolfo López Mateos1 December 1952 – 17 November 1957
Salomón González Blanco17 November 1957 – 30 November 1958
HealthIgnacio Morones Prieto1 December 1952 –30 November 1958

Ruiz Cortines modified the law to promote responsibility and honesty among public servants to combat increasing amounts of corruption. He created a law that forced public servants to declare their assets before beginning to work in the government, including himself.[36] Ruiz Cortines's purpose was to compare the public servants' fortune before and after their participation in public charges to combat illicit enrichment and corruption.[15]

Ruiz Cortines's Secretary of the Navy, Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada [es], died on May 1 1955 of a myocardial infarction.[37][38] On May 9, Sub-secretary of the Navy Alfonso Poire Ruelas was nominated to succeed Sánchez Taboada, a position which he held until the 22nd of December of that year.[39] On January 1 1956, Ruiz Cortines nominated Viceadmiral Roberto Gómez Maqueo to fill the position, and he held it until April 1 1958.[40] From April 1 to September 15 of 1958, Ruiz Cortines's Secretary of the Navy was Héctor Meixuerio Alexandres.[41]

After becoming president, Ruiz Cortines proposed an alliance to Henríquez Guzmán between their parties. Henríquez Guzmán stated he would only accept if political and economic monopolies were ended. Ruiz Cortines rejected this, and repression against the party continued. The government de-registered them in 1954, and in 1955 the party closed their offices.[32]

Domestic politics

After the corruption scandals of the Alemán years, he wanted to give a new image to the government and re-establish its credibility.[42] His credo was "austerity and moralization". He prosecuted several of Alemán's political and business associates who had enriched themselves during the previous administration.[43][44] He suspended all government contracts in 1953 to cut waste and to root out corruption.[45]

He exercised tight control of public expenditure, supported the construction of roads, railways, dams, schools and hospitals. He also implemented a plan called "March to the Sea", which had the aim of shifting population from the highlands to the coast, and making better use and development of marine and coastal resources. Under this program, malaria was eradicated. He created the Rural Social Welfare Program to improve the living conditions of the rural population and encouraged land distribution. Large foreign estates were expropriated. Furthermore, he implemented the Farm Security program to protect farmers from natural disasters.[15]

At the beginning of his term, President Ruiz Cortines sent a bill to amend Article 34 of the Constitution to grant women equal political rights with men, which granted the vote to Mexican women.[42] To promote measures to meet the need for homes, he created the National Housing Institute. He gave a stimulus to industry, particularly small- and medium-sized, and laid the foundation for the development of the petrochemical industry and promoted the creation of jobs.[15]

President Ruiz Cortines on the cover of Time magazine in 1953. He was the sixth Mexican president to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.[46]

In response to the technical advances in the field of nuclear energy, and considering that Mexico could not remain unaffected by this development, he created the National Nuclear Energy Commission. Primary and secondary education were boosted greatly. He specially supported the polytechnic university. Ruiz Cortines equipped the facilities of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and began subsidies to support universities through the republic.[15]

Another primary goal of his government was to improve the health of men and women in Mexico. Therefore, he fought malnutrition among children and promoted an immunization campaign.[15] Ruiz Cortines turned his attention to social problems and imposed an era of austerity on the Mexican government.

Ruiz Cortines's government decided to reduce public spending, to consolidate public finances and fight inflation.[42] These policies led to macroeconomic stability, and contributed to the Mexican economy high growth rates during the 1950s. For first time in many years the Mexican government generated a budget surplus. However, following Ruiz Cortines's 1953 suspension of all government contracts, construction companies were weakened, the national output fell, the foreign trade deficit rose by a third, and almost all employers announced layoffs. [45] He chose to shift away from austerity and reoriented his policy towards boosting production,[15] and announced a record $400 million spending plan to pump into public works projects.[45] In April 1954, in the so-called "crisis de la Semana Santa", he had to devaluate the peso from $8.65 per dollar to $12.50 per dollar.[47] Despite the devaluation, in 1955, Mexico's dollar reserves were roughly equivalent to $305 million, the highest since he took office.[48] In December 1955, in a push for a balanced budget, Ruiz Cortines announced the next year's budget, 6,696,374,000 pesos ($535,709,920 in 1955), which was an increase from the previous year, but was still considered somewhat conservative given Mexico's rapidly growing economy.[49]

By the end of his term in 1958, he had faced three social-political conflicts with peasants, teachers and the labor union of the railroad workers.[50]

Mexico's real national income had increased 7% halfway through 1954, and 10% halfway through 1955. In 1954, Mexico's electric power output increased 10%, manufacturing increased 9.8%, and crude-oil production increased 15%. By 1955, Mexico's crop, coffee, and cotton production and yield had increased 20% since the start of Ruiz Cortines's term, at that point an all-time high for Mexico.[48]

Earthquake of 1957

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Main article: 1957 Guerrero earthquake

On July 28, 1957,[51] an earthquake with an epicenter in the state of Guerrero shook Mexico City for about 90 seconds.[52] It measured 7.7 on the Richter scale.[51][53] Ruiz Cortines was in his office in the national palace at the time.[52]

Foreign relations

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During Ruiz' Cortines's term, Mexico had cold diplomatic relationships with the United States because Ruiz Cortines refused to make any agreements that committed Mexico to participate in international wars.[citation needed] During his term, Ruiz Cortines completed the construction of projects like Falcon Dam, built with 58.6% American funds and 41.4% Mexican funds.[54] The dam on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo in Mexico) was inaugurated on October 19, 1953, by Ruiz Cortines and United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower.[55][56]

In 1956, Ruiz Cortines attended a meeting with US President Eisenhower and Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent of Canada. During the meeting, the leaders discussed immigration issues, economic cooperation, civil aviation and illegal fishing in coastal areas. In general, President Ruiz Cortines's foreign policy was conservative and respectful of the sovereignty of other nations.[2] His administration was looking for a closer relationship with Latin America and sought the integration into the institutional system of Latin America, the Organization of American States (OAS).[57] In the Conference of Caracas, held in 1954, Mexico failed in its attempt to defend the self-determination of the people.[58]

In total, Ruiz Cortines only made three foreign visits during his term, which was deliberately a small amount, as he did not want to waste money on planes or waste time on boats.[59]

The plaque that Haile Selassie inaugurated in Mexico City

In 1935, under Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico was one of only five countries to condemn Fascist Italy's invasion of Ethiopia (then the Ethiopian Empire or Abyssinia) during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.[60][61] In 1953, Ruiz Cortines invited Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, to visit Mexico, who used the opportunity to thank Mexico for condemning the invasion against him.[60] In 1955, Selassie accepted the invitation, and inaugurated at plaque in Mexico City with his country's name on it. He inaugurated a plaque with Mexico's name on it in his country's capital in 1958.[61]

1958 presidential succession

Main article: 1958 Mexican general election

In 1957, Ruiz Cortines, as was tradition, was to announce the PRI's next presidential candidate. Taking input from ex-presidents Lázaro Cárdenas and Miguel Alemán Valdés, each symbolizing the left and right sectors of the PRI respectively, he announced his hard-working but little-known Labor Minister Adolfo López Mateos as the next candidate, with international observers seeing López Mateos as the sure winner despite his relative obscurity.[62] López Mateos eventually won the election with 90% of the popular vote.[63]

Post-presidency

Statue of Ruiz Cortines in Los Pinos, Mexico City

On 1 December 1958, Ruiz handed over power to his successor López Mateos,[64][65] and then he retired from public life almost altogether. In 1964, he attended the inauguration of López Mateos' successor, President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz.[66]

According to Miguel Alemán Velasco, President Luis Echeverría once consulted Ruiz Cortines via telephone on an unspecified policy. Ruiz Cortines disagreed with Echeverría's idea, but Echeverría didn't take his advice.[59]

In his last days, his friend Manuel Caldelas García, a politician whom he had known in his youth, began living with him at his home in Veracruz. Caldelas helped with household chores and took care of the former president. On the afternoon of 3 December 1973, the health status of Ruiz Cortines became critical. Dr. Mario Díaz Tejeda went to the home to treat the condition of the former president. When the drugs took effect on him, Ruiz Cortines fell asleep. At 9:05 am on Monday, 3 December 1973, Adolfo Tomás Ruiz Cortines died at 82 years of age, a victim of heart failure caused by arteriosclerosis.[2][4]

Personal life

In 1915 he married his first wife, Lucía Carrillo Guitiérrez, the daughter of Veracruz's then-governor, Lauro Carrillo. Ruiz Cortines and Lucía later divorced.[67] Their first child, María Cristina Ruiz Carrillo, was born on December 6, 1917.[68] Their second child, Lucía Ruiz Carrillo, was born on May 1, 1919. Their third child, Adolfo Ruiz Carrillo, was born on November 28, 1922.[69]

He married his second wife, an old girlfriend named María de Dolores Izaguirre, in 1941, who would serve as his First Lady.[67] She would become the first woman in Mexico to cast a vote after her husband passed the constitutional amendment promised during his campaign.[70]

Ruiz Cortines was known to frequntly play domino games.[35][59][71]

See also

References

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  13. ^ Krauze 1997, pp. 606–607.
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  40. ^ Fernández Pavón 2014, p. 23.
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  43. ^ "Monoply Reform Pushed In Mexico". The New York Times. 12 July 1953. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
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  68. ^ Melgarejo Vivanco 1980, p. 27.
  69. ^ Melgarejo Vivanco 1980, p. 28.
  70. ^ Aguilar Rodríguez, Aurora (16 October 2023). "70 años construyendo poder" (in Spanish). El Sol de Tlaxcala. Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  71. ^ Melgarejo Vivanco 1980, pp. 14, 187, 195–196.

Bibliography

Further reading

Chamber of Deputies (Mexico) Preceded byÓscar Fano Viniegra Member of the Chamber of Deputiesfor Veracruz’s 3rd district 1937 Succeeded byAntonio Pulido Political offices Preceded byJorge Cerdán Lara Governor of Veracruz 1944–1948 Succeeded byÁngel Carvajal Bernal Preceded byErnesto P. Uruchurtu Secretary of the Interior 1948–1951 Succeeded byErnesto P. Uruchurtu Preceded byMiguel Alemán Valdés President of Mexico 1952–1958 Succeeded byAdolfo López Mateos Party political offices Preceded byMiguel Alemán Valdés PRI nominee for President of Mexico 1952 Succeeded byAdolfo López Mateos