The Ruiz Cortines Sexenio, 1952-58
Despite his friendship with Alemán, Ruiz Cortines set out to eliminate the corruption and graft that had tainted the previous administration. In his inaugural speech on December 1, 1952, Ruiz Cortines promised to require complete honesty from officials in his government and asked that they make public their financial assets. He later fired several officials on charges of corruption.
The economy continued to grow with government support. The government, for example, devaluated the peso (Mex$--for value, see Glossary), a move that helped to encourage investors from abroad. Ruiz Cortines did not promote a new construction boom but rather channeled money into public health programs. The IMSS, under the directorship of Antonio Ortiz Mena, was expanded to provide medical services at hospitals and clinics throughout the country, and a more comprehensive system of benefits for eligible workers and their families was created.
By the end of Ruiz Cortines's sexenio in 1958, three consecutive administrations had pursued probusiness policies that departed significantly from the agrarian populism practiced by Cárdenas. Import-substitution industrialization had generated rapid growth in urban areas, while land reform was scaled back and redefined to emphasize individual private farming. Meanwhile, Mexico's population more than doubled in less than thirty years, from 16 million in the mid-1930s to 34 million in 1960. The resulting population pressure, as well as the concentration of services and new jobs in urban areas, encouraged massive urban migration--most notably in and around Mexico City. The proliferation of urban shantytowns in the capital's outskirts became a growing symbol of the imbalance between urban and rural development in postwar Mexico.
With wartime calls for unity and austerity now well past, the Cárdenas faction of the PRI reemerged as a powerful force acting on behalf of the party's core agrarian and labor constituencies. Former President Cárdenas (who continued to wield considerable influence in national politics) persuaded the party to nominate one of his followers, Adolfo López Mateos, as the PRI candidate for the 1958 presidential election.
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