Carlos Salinas de Gortari (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaɾlos saˈlinaz ðe ɣoɾˈtaɾi]; born 3 April 1948) is a Mexican economist and politician affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who served as President of Mexico from 1988 to 1994. He is widely regarded as the most influential and controversial politician in Mexico over the last 30 years. Earlier in his career he worked in the Budget Secretariat, eventually becoming Secretary. He was the PRI presidential candidate in 1988, and was declared elected on 6 July 1988 after accusations of electoral fraud.An economist, Salinas de Gortari was the first Mexican president since 1958 who was not a law graduate. His presidency was characterized by neoliberal, free trade economic policies initiated by his predecessor Miguel de la Madrid, mass privatizations of state-run companies, Mexico’s entry into NAFTA, negotiations with the right-wing opposition party PAN to recognize their victories in gubernatorial elections in exchange for supporting Salinas’ policies, normalization of relations with the Catholic clergy, and the adoption of a new currency, among other things.
After years of economic growth, however, his last year in office revealed Salinas had failed to address social inequity in the country, quickly followed by revelations of Salinas’s mismanagement. The year 1994 saw the Zapatista uprising, the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio (Salinas’s hand-picked successor and PRI candidate for the 1994 presidential elections), and the murder of secretary-general of the PRI José Francisco Ruiz Massieu (Salinas’s brother-in-law). This surge of political violence led to economic uncertainty. Facing pressures to devalue the peso, Salinas stood firm, opting for a strategy he believed would help his candidacy for the presidency of the newly created World Trade Organization. As a consequence, less than a month after Salinas left office, Mexico entered into the worst economic crisis of its history. Shortly after, his brother Raúl Salinas de Gortari was arrested for ordering the assassination of Ruiz Massieu and was subsequently indicted on charges of drug trafficking. Carlos Salinas de Gortari then left the country for many years.
Salinas de Gortari is often referred to as the most unpopular former president of Mexico. A 2005 nationwide poll conducted by Parametría found that 73% of the respondents had a negative image of Salinas de Gortari, while only 9% stated that they had a positive image of the former president.