Salinastroika: Less than Meets the Eye

President Carlos Salinas de Gortari took office in 1988 after an election most Mexicans believe he lost.

Issue: Winter 1993-1994

President Carlos Salinas de Gortari took office in 1988 after an election most Mexicans believe he lost. Despite systematic fraud and enormous expenditures of state resources, the electoral alchemists of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were able to conjure but a bare majority of votes for Salinas, according to official results. He was confirmed by the PRI-controlled Congress amid fisticuffs and raucous demonstrations by opposition legislators, while sealed packets of uninspected ballots from around the country lay strewn in the basement under armed guard. Never opened, they were eventually destroyed.

The legitimacy of the PRI, the party of the Mexican Revolution, in power since 1929, had been severely damaged. With the country mired in a prolonged economic crisis, a number of observers questioned whether Mexico, once considered a model of stability and civilian rule in Latin America, was on the verge of upheaval.

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