José López Portillo

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José López Portillo
Jose Lopez Portillo.jpg
51st President of Mexico
In office
December 1, 1976 – November 30, 1982
Preceded by Luis Echeverría
Succeeded by Miguel de la Madrid
Personal details
Born José Guillermo Abel López Portillo y Pacheco
(1920-06-16)June 16, 1920
Mexico City, Mexico
Died February 17, 2004(2004-02-17) (aged 83)
Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s) 1.Carmen Romano
2. Aleksandra Aćimović Popović (Sasha Montenegro)
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Mexico
Religion Roman Catholic

José Guillermo Abel López Portillo y Pacheco (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse ˈlopes porˈtiʝo]; June 16, 1920 – February 17, 2004) was a Mexican lawyer and, politician affiliated with Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who served as the 51st President of Mexico from 1976 to 1982.

Early life

López Portillo was born in Mexico City, to his father José López Portillo y Weber (1888–1974), an engineer, historian, researcher, and Mexican academic, and his mother Refugio Pacheco y Villa-Gordoa. He was the grandson of José López Portillo y Rojas, a lawyer, politician, and man-of-letters. He was the great-great-great grandson of José María Narváez (1768–1840), a Spanish explorer who was the first to enter Strait of Georgia in present-day British Columbia and the first to view the site now occupied by the city of Vancouver.[citation needed]

He studied law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) before beginning his political career with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 1959. He held several positions in the administrations of his two predecessors before being appointed to serve as finance minister under Luis Echeverría, a close friend from childhood, between 1973 and 1975.


José López Portillo and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the National Palace presidential office(1979).

López Portillo's first wife was Carmen Romano. After Romano's death in 1997, López Portillo married his longtime partner, the Yugoslavian-born actress Sasha Montenegro.[1] They had two children (Nabila and Alejandro) but later separated.

He was the brother of late Mexican novelist Margarita López Portillo, who died on May 8, 2006, of natural causes.

He died on February 17, 2004 in Mexico City when he was 83 years old, victim of a cardiac complication generated by a pneumonia.[2] He was buried at the Pantheon Federal District military.


Domestic policy

Heads of State at the Cancun North–South Summit in 1981

When López Portillo entered office, Mexico was in the midst of an economic crisis. He undertook an ambitious program to promote Mexico's economic development with revenues stemming from the discovery of new petroleum reserves in the states of Veracruz and Tabasco by Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the country's publicly owned oil company. In 1980, Mexico joined Venezuela in the Pact of San José, a foreign aid project to sell oil at preferential rates to countries in Central America and the Caribbean. According to some, the economic confidence that he fostered led to a short-term boost in economic growth, but by the time he left office, the economy had deterioated.[3]

One of his last actions as president, announced during his annual State of the Nation address on September 1, 1982, was to order the nationalization of the country's banking system.[4]

López Portillo was the last economic nationalist president to emerge from the ranks of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Subsequent presidents have all been for free trade (librecambismo).

During his presidential term, his critics accused him of corruption and nepotism.[5]

An electoral reform conducted during his presidential term increased the number of members of the Chamber of Deputies to 400: 300 being elected single-seat constituencies by plurality vote (uninominals) and 100 being elected according to proportional representation (plurnominals).[6] The reform furthermore opened the electoral process for small opposition parties.[7]

Foreign policy

In 1981, the Cancun Summit, a North-South dialogue, took place.[8] The summit was attended by 22 heads of state and government from industrialized countries (North) and developing nations (South). During López Portillo’s presidential term, Mexico supported the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua.[8] In 1977, after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Mexico resumed diplomatic relations with Spain. Moreover, Pope John Paul II visited Mexico for the first time.[8]

Presidential succession

In the year leading to the end of his term as president on December 1, 1982, López Portillo personally chose two candidates as possibilities to replace himself, following the succession ritual established by the PRI party. One, Javier García Paniagua, would be the appointed one if a man of greater political skill were needed, and the other, ultimately his successor Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado was chosen for his financial and administrative skills, deemed much more necessary after the devaluation of the peso in February 1982 and the subsequent economic crisis.


  • Génesis y teoría del Estado moderno (1965).
  • Quetzalcóatl (1965).
  • Don Q (1975, reimpresiones en 1976 y 1987).[9][10]
  • Ellos vienen... La conquista de México (1987).
  • Mis tiempos (2 tomos, 1988).
  • Umbrales (1997).
  • El súper PRI (2002).


Sweden, Knight of the Order of Seraphim 1980-05-05


  1. Gunson, Phil. "José López Portillo Mexico's most reviled president". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Kandell, Jonathan. "José López Portillo, President When Mexico's Default Set Off Debt Crisis, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2007). Historia de México Vol. II. Pearson Educación. p. 409.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Coerver, Don M. (2004). Mexico: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History. ABC-CLIO. p. 271.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Flores Rangel, Juan Jose (2005). Historia de Mexico. Cengage Learning Editores. p. 519.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Nuestro siglo - La Reforma política de 1977". Cámera de Diputados. Retrieved 25 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Flores Rangel, Juan Jose (2005). Historia de Mexico. Cengage Learning Editores. p. 507.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Flores Rangel, Juan Jose (2005). Historia de Mexico. Cengage Learning Editores. p. 525.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Don Q Jose Lopez Portillo - MercadoLibre México" (in español). 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2013-08-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "El Universal". El Universal. Retrieved 2013-08-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luis Echeverría
President of Mexico
Succeeded by
Miguel de la Madrid
Party political offices
Preceded by
Luis Echeverría Álvarez
PRI presidential candidate
1976 (won)
Succeeded by
Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado