Cardenismo takes its name from Lazaro Cardenas, for many the most beloved and popular politician in Mexico, for others the person responsible for the radicalization and Bolshevization of the Mexican revolution.
During the six years that he was in power, he developed a reform policy in politics, economy, society and culture that marked a before and after in the country’s history. His policies gave name to the Cardenismo movement, which included all sectors of the country in a national revolution .
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What is Cardenismo
Cardenismo is a political movement of political, social and economic reforms that emerged in Mexico during the government of Lazaro Cardenas between 1934 and 1940. Its revolutionary politics is characterized by the loss of power of the military sector and the seizure of the popular classes (the proletariat and the peasants).
During that stage, Lazaro Cardenas promoted a distribution of land among the rural population and reinforced the action of the unions. In the countryside he supported the advancement of the rights of the indigenous population, and spread socialist education throughout the country.
The government of Lazaro Cardenas is also known for its national projection by positioning itself energetically against the fascist movementsand offer asylum to exiled Spanish Republicans.
Beyond that, however, Cardenismo is still a mystery in Mexico covered in myths, idealized images in the popular imagination, apologies and traditions that argue about its place in the Mexican revolution.
Origins of Cardenismo
Mexican historians continue to insist on the need to demystify the figure of Lazaro Cardenas, not to delegitimize his figure but because the movement that embodied Cardenismo transcended the work of a single man: it was rather the historical result of social processes. starting with the revolution of 1910.
Although the constitutionalists had been successful in the peasant uprisings of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, the revolutionary forces were still latent and in 1929, after the assassination of president-elect Alvaro Obregon, the National Revolutionary Party was created, which sought to regroup all those forces.
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Within that party an ideological struggle arose between Porfirio Elias Calles and Lazaro Cardenas, which led to a power struggle between Callismo and Cardenismo .
While Calles intended to keep the power structures intact, with a strong military sector and institutionalized politics, Lazaro Cardenas proposed a renovating project that would bring the revolution down to civil society .
In 1934 it was evident that the power of Calles, with more and more enemies, was very unstable, and the country was going through a worrying depression. Trying to save his position from him, he proposes Lazaro Cardenas as a candidate for the presidency , and after his victory he imposes people he trusts in his cabinet.
On the morning of April 10, 1936, Cardenas, accompanied by a military entourage, takes Calles out of his house in his pajamas and sends them on a plane to California. Lazaro Cardenas gets rid of the last callistas and begins his project with absolute power .
Who was Lazaro Cardenas?
Lazaro Cardenas y Rio (1895-1970) is undoubtedly one of the most transcendental figures in Mexican politics in the 20th century. For some, he is the pinnacle of the country’s social advances , for others, guilty of the Bolshevik deviation of the Mexican Revolution, his figure is as important as it is controversial.
At twenty-five, Lazaro Cardenas had become general of the revolutionary forces, after which he became governor of Michoacan. During this periodhe learned of his position and listened to popular demands , initiating a reforming policy that he would later reproduce on a national scale.
In 1930 he made the leap to national politics as Minister of the Interior in the government of Pascual Ortiz, and in 1932 he became Minister of War.
Not a few historians define him as a populist, due to the popular fervor that he aroused among the masses already during his mandate. But his trail survived after he retired, and he achieved worldwide recognition with various awards, recognitions and monuments. He died of cancer on October 19, 1970 in Mexico City.
Principles and measures of Cardenismo
The political movement known as Cardenismo is based on extending power to the popular classes, that is, the peasantry and the proletariat, and gradually granting power to the civilian sectors to the detriment of military power.
In the international current, Cardenismo positions itself as an ally of communism and anti-fascism. These are its main features:
1. Agrarian reform
Many consider Cardenas as the continuator of the revolutionary aspirations of Emiliano Zapato, since in some way the distribution of land that he carried out followed the spirit of the Plan de Ayala of 1911 and it is the largest carried out until now.
Cardenas put in the hands of the peasants about 20 million hectareswith the aim of putting an end to the latifundio and the exploitation of the landowners for the benefit of a new agrarian structure based on small property and the collectivization of the ejidos.
The agrarian reform was accompanied by an educational impulse in the field , with the aim of creating specialists and technical professionals who would advance in the technological development of agriculture. Its success, due to financing, was only partial.
For Cardenismo, industrial development was essential for the country’s progress, but this had to go hand in hand with the protection of the rights of the working class. That is why I promote the trade union union and support the workers’ demands.
During his tenure, theConfederation of Workers of Mexico, with the aim of unifying the social and labor movement. The idea was that the State would position itself as a mediator of social and labor conflicts.
Lazaro Cardenas, at the doors of a train in Mexico. | Image by: Doralicia Carmona Davila.
In a more general way, Cardenismo advocated overcoming the limits of the Keynesian policies of the welfare society, and moving towards a true subversion of the social and economic order in favor of greater equality.
3. Expropriation of foreign companies
One of the features of Cardenas’ policy was his national and nationalist character, and one of his best-known actions is the nationalization of the oil industry and theexpropriation of foreign companies .
Cardenismo considered that foreign companies took advantage of the country’s production and violated the laws and codes of justice.
In 1936, the Expropriation Law was enacted, which legally protected the expropriation of the National Railways of Mexico in 1937, and the nationalization of oil with the subsequent expulsion of the foreign oil companies in 1938.
This last action meant the rupture of relations with the United Kingdom.
4. Socialist reform of culture and education
The Cardenismo gave a reforming impulse to Mexico in all senses, also in the cultural and educational aspect.
During his mandate, hostility to the Catholic Church ceased and gambling houses were closed, while the National Museum of History , the National Polytechnic Institute, the National Institute of Anthropology and the College of Mexico were founded.
But one of his great milestones for which he is still remembered today is the extension of education with a socialist perspective. Cardenas assured that education had to bear the ideological seal of socialism and banished any religious reminiscence. In six years, the number of schools throughout the country doubled .
For Cardenismo , the impulse of education and culture was the vanguardof the revolution, and the teachers should be the evangelizers of the people transmitting the ideals of justice and equality of the movement.
anti-fascism In Europe between the wars, Lazaro Cardenas positioned himself in the internationalist anti-fascist current against the fascist and National Socialist regimes. When the Spanish civil war broke out, Mexico opened its borders as a sign of solidarity with the international socialist movement.
Between 1936 and 1939, the government of Lazaro Cardenas gave asylum to some 40,000 exiled Republicans. Special reference deserves the reception of more than 450 minors, orphans and children of combatants , who received sustenance and education in Morelia.
In addition, the Cardenas government supported financially and with the export of weapons to the Spanish Republic. During those years, Mexico was one of the main world centers of the socialist revolution , giving shelter, for example, to the leader of the communist opposition in the Soviet Union, Leon Trotsky, persecuted by Stalinism.
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