Childhood & Early Life
Carlos Salinas de Gortari was born on April 3, 1948, in Mexico City. He was one of the five children of Ra¬úl Salinas Lozano, a Mexican senator and economist, and Margarita de Gortari de Salinas. His father was the minister of industry and commerce but could not make it to the presidential campaigns, Thus, when Carlos became the president of the country 20 years later, it was a victory for the entire family.
On December 18, 1951, there was a terrible tragedy in the family. Carlos and his brother were playing with a friend and found their parents’ gun and accidentally fired and killed their maid. The authorities never established which of the boys had used the gun. The situation was even more dramatic, as the maid was a poor 12-year-old girl whom they had hired without even knowing her last name. Thus, there was no way to let her family know she was dead. The Salinas family was exonerated, although they were morally blamed for leaving the gun for the children to find.
Carlos studied economics at the ‘National Autonomous University of Mexico’ and then at ‘Harvard University,’ from where he got his PhD in 1978. He was a member of the ‘PRI’ youth movement and the ‘Revolutionary Policy and Professional Association.’
He loved horses and was an excellent dressage horseman. He was part of the national team at the ‘Pan-American Games’ in Colombia, in 1971.
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His political career began in 1982, when he became the minister of planning and budget, which was an important function, especially because the country was struggling financially back then. Salinas intended to contest in the presidential elections, so he had already begun putting his strategy into action. He denigrated Jes¬ús Silva Herzog, his main rival, and made a non-compete alliance, Manuel Bartlett, the minister of the interior.
In 1988, Salinas won the elections, but in a questionable way, after the system used to count the votes crashed suspiciously. Although many think he would have won anyway, the whole situation was a sign of election fraud in the eyes of the population. Nevertheless, he became the president and took his oath before the ‘Congress of the Union.’ He had to do his best to change the general opinion about him and his party.
He continued the former president's programs of privatization. He chose many inefficient corporations owned by the state and sold them to private investors. He also took measures to encourage foreign investments in the Mexican economy. His main goal, as he declared, was to modernize Mexico, meaning the politics, the economics, and the society of the country. The cabinet supported his policies, but Salinas still replaced some of the ministers during his presidency.
The constitution of Mexico went through some changes through the 6 years Salinas served as the president. He removed some restrictions of the Catholic Church, ended the redistribution of land, and changed policies regarding human rights and economic activities of the state.
To prove he was serious about making changes, he arrested some prominent union leaders and re-privatized some banks that former president Jos¬é L¬ópez Portillo had nationalized. He used the money he got from selling those state-run companies to pay off the internal debts of the country. He also directed the funds from those sales to impoverished areas, improving the infrastructure and the electrical grid of the nation.
His greatest accomplishment remains his successful negotiation with the US and Canada for the creation of the ‘NAFTA’ in 1994. After years of anti-American policies, Mexico was finally opening up to a single market, with the purpose of securing exports and attracting foreign investments, which was supposed to lead to more jobs and economic recovery. He also made efforts to stop drug trafficking and increased the funds for that purpose, but Mexico was and continues to be a critical transit country for drugs coming from Colombia, on their way to the US.
When the elections of 1994 were approaching, Salinas had to choose his party’s candidate, and he nominated Luis Donaldo Colosio. Around the same time, he had to deal with the ‘Zapatista’ rebellion, trying his best to negotiate peace. He made many right decisions and probably saved many lives in the process. It was unfortunate, however, that the rebellion coincided with the implementation of the ‘NAFTA.’
In March 1994, there was a shocking turn of events with the assassination of Colosio, Salinas’s candidate for the 1994 elections. Although there were some rumors that the two had had an argument a few days before Colosio’s death, Salinas declared he had no involvement in the murder and that he considered it a political blow against him.
After the elections, Salinas left Mexico. There were many reports of him living in countries such as Canada, the US, Cuba, and Ireland, but nothing was certain.
As of May 2010, Salinas was still living in Dublin, Ireland. Salinas also attended his son's civil wedding in Mexico City.
Family & Personal Life
Carlos Salinas has been married twice. His was married to Cecilia Occelli Gonz¬¬ález from1972 to 1995. His second marriage was to Ana Paula Gerard and came shortly after his divorce.
Salinas and Cecilia Occelli had three children: Cecilia (born in 1974), Emiliano (born in 1976), and Juan Cristobal (born in 1979). Salinas had three children with Ana Paula, too: Ana Emilia Margarita (born in 1996), Patricio Gerónimo Gerardo (born in 1998), and Mateo (born in 2006).