Miguel de la Madrid, who, as president, tried without success to reform Mexico’s one-party state and instead presided over one of the most corrupt periods in the country’s modern era, has died, according to media reports.
De la Madrid, 77, was president during years (1982-88) that saw the emergence of Mexico’s drug cartels and the 1985 earthquake that shook Mexico City and, because government response was so poor, the PRI/government itself. Political observers count it among the factors that led to the one-party state’s eventual demise 15 years later. Many Mexican City non-governmental organizations date their emergence to the 1985 earthquake and citizen do-it-yourself emergency response when they found no help from the government.
He was also president when DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was killed by drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, for Camarena’s role in discovering a vast marijuana plantation belonging to the drug lord. The case sparked US interest in Mexican traffickers for the first time, leading to a continued US attention and pressure on Mexico to do something about its drug-trafficking gangs.
The investigation found deep connections between Mexican traffickers and government officials.
In addition, he was president during the election of his successor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari — an election believed by many to be one of the most corrupted of any in modern Mexican history.