Hewlett Visiting Fellow for Public Policy
"Mexico’s Controversial 1988 Presidential Elections: From Personal Experience"
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Mexico’s 1988 presidential election was a watershed moment in a country dominated for almost 60 years by the one-party rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). As the returns rolled in on live television, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas—who had stepped away from the PRI to run as an opposition candidate—was well in the lead. Then TV screens went dark and when programming returned, he was no longer the frontrunner.
Although Cárdenas did not become president, the election fractured the power of the PRI and changed Mexican politics forever. In this talk, Cárdenas will tell the story from his perspective, including the political events leading up to the election, the electoral fraud, and the Mexican people’s response, which marked the beginning of a real opposition and the nation’s transition to democracy.
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (Licenciatura, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) is Hewlett Visiting Fellow for Public Policy at the Kellogg Institute for much of the spring semester. Recently appointed coordinator of International Affairs for Mexico City, Cárdenas is a distinguished Mexican politician and democracy advocate who was instrumental in opening up the political process in Mexico.
Cárdenas rose through PRI ranks to governor of Michoacán before becoming fed up with the party’s increasing corruption. Leaving the party, he ran for president in 1988 and came very close to winning—indeed, many Mexicans contend that the government stole the election. In 1989, he founded the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and in 1997 was elected to the new post of mayor of Mexico City. He ran again for president in 1994 and 2000.
Cárdenas has served as Tinker Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and as visiting professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his many honors is the 2010 Notre Dame Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America.
While in residence at Kellogg, Cárdenas is coteaching a course on the history of modern Mexico with Faculty Fellow Jaime Pensado.