Lázaro Cárdenas

Lázaro Cárdenas

Infobox_President | name=Lázaro Cárdenas

office1 = President of Mexico
term_start1=December 1, 1934
term_end1=November 30, 1940
predecessor1=Abelardo L. Rodríguez
successor1=Manuel Ávila Camacho
office2 = Governor of Michoacán
term_start2= 1928
term_end2= 1932
predecessor2 = Luis Méndez
successor2= Dámaso Cárdenas
birth_date=birth date|1895|5|21|mf=y
birth_place=Jiquilpan, Michoacán
death_date=death date and age|1970|10|19|1895|5|21|mf=y
death_place=Mexico DF
spouse=Amalia Solórzano
party=Party of the Mexican Revolution

:"This article is about Gen. Lázaro Cárdenas del Río. For his grandson, see Lázaro Cárdenas Batel. For the port city see Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán"

Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (May 21, 1895 – October 19, 1970) was President of Mexico from 1934 to 1940.Lázaro Cárdenas was born into a lower-middle class family in the village of Jiquilpan, Michoacán. He supported his family (including his mother and seven younger siblings) from age 16 after the death of his father. By the age of 18 he had worked as a tax collector, a printer's devil, and a jailkeeper. Although he left school at the age of eleven, he used every opportunity to educate himself and read widely throughout his life, especially works of history.

Cárdenas originally set his sights at becoming a teacher, but was drawn into politics and the military during the Mexican Revolution after Victoriano Huerta overthrew President Francisco Madero. He backed Plutarco Elías Calles, and after Calles became president, Cárdenas became governor of Michoacán in 1928. He became known for his progressive program of building roads and schools, promoting education, land reform and social security.

Presidential career

Calles continued to dominate Mexico after his presidency with administrations that were his puppets. After having two of his hand-picked men put into the position, the PNR balked at his first choice, Manuel Pérez Treviño, in 1934. Instead they selected Cárdenas to be the ruling party's presidential candidate, and Calles went along with it, thinking he could control him as he had the previous two. This however, was not so. Cárdenas's first move once he took office late in 1934 was to have his presidential salary cut in half. Even more surprising moves would follow. After establishing himself in the presidency, in 1936 Cárdenas had Calles and dozens of his corrupt associates arrested or deported to the United States, a decision that was greeted with great enthusiasm by the majority of the Mexican public.

Cárdenas subsequently decreed the end of the use of capital punishment (in Mexico, usually in the form of a firing squad). Capital punishment has been banned in Mexico since that time. The control of the republic by Cárdenas and the PRI predecessor "Partido de la Revolución Mexicana" without widespread bloodshed effectively signalled the end of rebellions that began with the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

Cardenas was perhaps the only Mexican President who never employed armored cars or bodyguards to protect himself. In the presidential campaign of 1934, he travelled through much of the republic that was not accessible by train, by auto and horseback, accompanied only by a chauffeur and an aide-de-camp. This fearlessness generated widespread respect for Cárdenas by the electorate. He became the first occupant of the current official presidential residence of Los Pinos, and converted the previous residence, the ostentatious Spanish viceregal palace Chapultepec Castle, into the National Museum of History.

Russian exile Leon Trotsky was welcomed into Mexico by Cárdenas, reportedly to counter accusations that Cárdenas was a Stalinist. Cárdenas, like his 1920s predecessor Álvaro Obregón, understood that left wing and labor union support was critical to maintain control of the republic. The bloated and corrupt CROM union of Luis Morones was marginalized as Cárdenas promoted the "purified" Confederation of Mexican Workers of socialist Vicente Lombardo Toledano. The CTM and Toledano in turn supported Cárdenas' deportation of ex-President Calles. Though Cardenas was of course not as left-wing as Leon Trotsky and other socialists would wish, Trotsky described the Cardenas’s government as the only honest government in the world.

Cardenas sought to actively help the Republican government in the Spanish Civil War, but those efforts were largely thwarted by the Roosevelt administration. After the war ended with the defeat of the loyalist Republicans, Cárdenas gave specific instructions to his ambassador and envoys in Europe to give safe haven and protection to all exiles, including President Manuel Azaña, actively sought for deportation by the Spanish fascist government and by French colaborationist authorities. Azaña died in France under Mexican diplomatic protection, but Cárdenas was able to bring to Mexico tens of thousands of refugees, among them distinguished intellectuals who left a lasting imprint in Mexican cultural life.

Cárdenas is considered by many historians to be the creator of a political system that lasted in Mexico until the end of the 1980s. Central to this project was the organization of corporatist structures for trade unions, "campesino" (peasant) organizations, and middle-class professionals and office workers within the reorganized ruling party, now renamed the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM). During Cárdenas's presidency, the government expropriated and redistributed millions of acres of hacienda land to peasants, and urban and industrial workers gained unprecedented unionization rights and wage increases. The railway Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México was nationalized in 1938 and put under a "workers administration". However, Cardenas and subsequent presidents also used the PRM and its successor, the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI, to maintain political control; leaders of the worker and "campesino" organizations delivered votes and suppressed protests in exchange for personal favors and concessions to their constituencies.

In the elections of 1940, Cárdenas on principle refused to make an outright endorsement of the PRM nominee Manuel Ávila against Ávila's opponent, Juan Andreu, insisting on open debate and free elections. The elections, however did not follow the pattern Cárdenas wished. The campaign was peppered with violent incidents and on election day, the opposing parties hijacked numerous polling places and each issued their own "election results". After "official" results declared Ávila as winner, Andreu threatened revolt then attempted to set up a parallel government and congress, nevertheless, Ávila assumed office, his inauguration attended by US Vice President Henry A. Wallace.

Oil expropriation

Also central to Cárdenas's project were nationalistic economic policies involving Mexico's vast oil production, which had soared following strikes in 1910 in the area known as the "Golden Lane," near Tampico, and which made Mexico the world's second-largest oil producer by 1921, supplying approximately 20 percent of domestic demand in the United States.

Cárdenas's efforts to negotiate with Mexican Eagle, in the managerial control of Royal Dutch/Shell, and Standard Oil of New Jersey were unavailing, and the companies rejected a solution proposed by a presidential commission. So at 9:45 p.m. on the evening of March 18, 1938, Cárdenas nationalized Mexico's petroleum reserves and expropriated the equipment of the foreign oil companies in Mexico. The announcement inspired a spontaneous six-hour parade in Mexico City; it was followed by a national fund-raising campaign to compensate the companies.

Even though compensation for the expropriated assets was included in this legislation, the act angered the international business community and vexed foreign governments, especially the United Kingdom. The government was more worried about the lack of the technical knowledge required to run the refineries, especially on how to obtain a critical chemical component needed to obtain gasoline from oil; without it, the refineries were worthless. Before leaving, the oil companies had made sure they did not leave behind anything of help to the Mexican government, hoping to force Cárdenas to accept their conditions. On Cárdenas's instructions, an elite team of around 30 engineers and gifted students were tasked to discover how to obtain the needed chemical before the national fuel reserves ran out in a matter of weeks. They were on the verge of achieving their goal when an apparently accidental explosion killed them all. A second team was assembled and they succeeded; Cárdenas sent to each president of the oil companies a little box with a vial filled with the Mexican formula Fact|date=February 2007.

The British severed diplomatic relations with Cárdenas's government, and Mexican oil and other goods were boycotted, despite an international ruling in favor of Mexico's government. However, with the outbreak of World War II, oil became a highly sought-after commodity. Mexico began to export oil to Nazi Germany. The United States and Britain decided this was unacceptable, so they settled their grievances with Mexico and ended the boycott. Mexican Eagle and Royal Dutch/Shell held out longer and received a better deal after the conclusion of the war.

The company that Cárdenas founded, Petróleos Mexicanos (or Pemex), would later be a model for other nations seeking greater control over their own oil and natural gas resources and is the most important source of income for the country, despite weakening finances. Seeing the need to assure the technical expertise needed to run it, Cárdenas founded the National Polytechnic Institute.

Post presidential career

After his presidential term, Cárdenas served as Mexico's secretary of defense until 1945.

It is often said that Lázaro Cárdenas was the only president associated with PRI who did not use the office to make himself wealthy. He retired to a modest home by Lake Pátzcuaro and worked the rest of his life supervising irrigation projects and promoting free medical clinics and education for the nation's poor. He also continued to speak out about international political issues and in favor of greater democracy and human rights in Latin America.

Lázaro Cárdenas died of cancer in Mexico City. His son Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and his grandson Lázaro Cárdenas Batel have been prominent Mexican politicians.

In his honor, a number of cities and towns in Mexico, including Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, many smaller communities, and many streets have been named after him, including the "Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas" in Mexico City, and highways in Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexicali. "Šetalište Lazaro Kardenasa" ("Lázaro Cárdenas promenade") in Belgrade, Serbia is also named after him. There is also a street in Barcelona, Spain, and a monument in a park in Madrid dedicated to his memory, in recognition of his role in admitting defeated Spanish Republicans in Mexico after the Civil War in that country.

Lázaro Cárdenas was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize for the year of 1955.


*Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay patterned his people–oriented government on the principles which he found in the 1952 edition of the biography of past President Lázaro Cárdenas, which was written by William Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL International).

ee also

*History of Mexico


*Alan Riding "Distant Neighbors". New York, New York: Vintage Books - Random House, 1986.

NAME = Cardenas del Rio, Lazaro
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Cárdenas del Río, Lázaro (Spanish)
SHORT DESCRIPTION = President of Mexico (1934 - 1940)
DATE OF BIRTH = 1895-05-21
PLACE OF BIRTH = Jiquilpan, Michoacán, Mexico
DATE OF DEATH = 1970-10-19
PLACE OF DEATH = Mexico City, Mexico

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  • Lazaro Cardenas — Lázaro Cárdenas ist der Name des ehemaligen (1934–1940) mexikanischen Staatspräsidenten Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (*21. Mai 1895, †19. Oktober 1970) der mexikanischen Stadt Lázaro Cárdenas (Stadt) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Lázaro Cárdenas — puede ser: ● Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, presidente de México ● Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, gobernador ● Lázaro Cárdenas Municipio en el estado de Michoacán en México …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lázaro Cárdenas —   [ lazarɔ karȓenas], Hafenstadt an der Pazifikküste des Bundesstaates Michoacán, Mexiko, nahe der Mündung des Río Balsas, 16 000 Einwohner; Industrie Freihafen Zone; bisher v. a. Stahlwerk (nahebei bedeutende Eisenerzvorkommen) und… …   Universal-Lexikon

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