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Former Mexican President Dies

Relatives, friends and Mexican politicians surround the coffin, covered by a Mexican flag, containing the body of Mexico's former President Miguel de la Madrid during his wake in Mexico City, Sunday April 1, 2012.

Former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, who led the country amid economic meltdown and natural disaster in the 1980s, has died. He was 77.

The former president died Sunday at a Mexico City hospital where he was admitted several weeks ago for respiratory problems.

Elected president in 1982, de la Madrid launched a massive free-market transformation of the Mexican economy, bringing soaring inflation under control.

But his administration was criticized for its handling of the 8.1 earthquake that struck Mexico City in September 1985, killing at least 9,000 people. Residents were forced to mount their own relief operations to help the homeless in the face of government inaction, as de la Madrid barred the military from taking part and refused international aid.

He was voted out of office in 1988.