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What is Cardenismo? Origins and history of the movement

What is Cardenismo? Origins and history of the movement

April 13, 2024

The history of humanity and how it has structured its society is complex and convulsive. Throughout history there have been many socio-political revolutions and movements that have been generated to change society, often when there are widespread situations of great social unrest, famine, and perceived inequality among citizens. The clearest and best known example of this is the French Revolution.

However, it is not the only one, just as Europe is not the only continent where they have taken place. And it is that another example, this time in Mexican lands, we can find it in the political movement known as cardenismo , about which we will talk throughout this article.

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What is Cardenismo?

Cardenismo is called a political movement that took place in Mexico, throughout the 1930s, and that owes its name to its main promoter, President Lázaro Cárdenas del Río . This political movement took place in a time of great conflict, after a revolution of the peasantry, and is characterized by the search for an improvement of the situation of the peasants and other working classes.

It is defined as a socialist movement that although initially had little acceptance by the estates to which it aimed to favor, with the passage of time ended up generating important socio-economic changes , to the point of being considered one of the political periods that have generated the most changes in the situation of the country.

A bit of history: the origins of this movement

In order to understand what Cardenismo is and how it arises, it is necessary first of all to take into account the situation from which it starts. The origins of this political movement are in the arrival of Porfirio Diaz under the promise of establishing a democracy and his subsequent stay in office, becoming a dictator and remaining in power by force of arms and the support of a privileged circle.

As the years passed, the population, and especially the workers and peasants, began to suffer serious repercussions, there being no protection for the working classes and poverty and great differences. Movements opposed to the regime began to emerge, as well as multiple conflicts and armed struggles in which leaders such as Madero and Zapata participated. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 emerged, which emerged to overthrow the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz .

After the destitution and flight of the dictator the new leader and organizer of much of the Revolution, Madero, began to make great changes. However, he was assassinated in 1913, which returned the country to a situation of great social tension, political struggles and inequalities. The War of the Cristeros also occurred shortly after, an armed conflict in protest against the policies exercised by President Obregón and his successor Plutarco Elías Calles.

Calles was a military man who defended the need to put an end to political tension by means of arms and sought to empower the army even more, with a vision contrary to the working class. Likewise, at this time the effects of the Great Depression would be seen , something that left the whole Mexican people in a precarious situation.

In 1933, with the elections a year away, two major confrontations emerged: the traditional and military-style Calles or another much more focused on workers and workers, who sought a democratic regeneration and was led by Lazaro Cárdenas. During the elections of 1934 it was this second who would win, something that would return to Cárdenas president and give rise to Cardenismo.

Cárdenas would propose in order to reduce the high social conflict renew political life and return to an ideal of democracy , as well as fighting for the rights of the different estates and social groups and trying to reduce social differences and the abuses of the big landowners and entrepreneurs. Likewise, the Mexican president was open to relations with other countries and welcomed a large number of immigrants fleeing conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War.

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Main political reforms

There were many changes that Cardenismo tried to carry out in order to improve the country's situation and recover sociopolitical stability, some of which were very controversial at the time.

The first one is linked to a profound agrarian reform, in which the land was divided among the workers and peasants and the power of the big landowners was reduced.It was intended to promote the development and cultivation of the land, filing social differences and transforming the social fabric.

Associations were formed such as the National Peasant Confederation and the Confederation of Workers of Mexico, and the power and the role of unions and strikes were fostered . In this sense, laws were also advocated in which

There were also educational policies to improve the education of the working classes, pretending to offer a progressive and socialist orientation training with which also aimed to reduce religious fanaticism as well as in turn also train qualified professionals. Introduced free, secular and compulsory education until fifteen , and generated an increase in literacy in rural areas.

Another of the best known moments of the Cardenista stage is the expropriation of oil fields and companies , something that sought to regain control of these resources for the country itself but which in turn was a great source of conflict and discomfort to the business owners of the companies. Also the railway industry was nationalized.

End of cardenismo

In spite of the changes in social policies introduced by Cardenismo, the truth is that this political movement faced numerous difficulties that led to its fall.

To begin with, your various policies in pursuit of the search for equality and education of the people Although they generated an improvement in the level of literacy, they could not be fully applied due to the entrenched social differences as well as the risks and lack of preparation teachers had in an environment that was often hostile to them.

Policies such as the nationalization of oil, which entailed international unrest, and the high level of expenditure during the application of a country that at that time did not have excessively favorable economic conditions (in addition, it must be taken into account that the world still felt the effects of the Great Depression) that a deep economic crisis appeared .

In addition, some sectors of society considered that the Cardenas regime betrayed the spirit of the Revolution, in addition to resorting to populism and being influenced by the influence of foreign countries and their political systems. Cardenismo was accused as much of fascist as of communist (especially this last one), something that next to the mentioned previous elements was diminishing its popularity.

Likewise, the former landowners and entrepreneurs saw social and economic reforms as threatening and many citizens began to see the policies of change established as excessively radical.

Some riots and revolts like the Saturnino Cedillo appeared, which led to several deaths, and fear began to emerge of a new civil war. All this caused that over time the voices of discontent they were increasing, and the opposition (initially very divided) was gaining prestige.

The last years of the 1940s were convulsive, with Cardenismo moving to a more moderate phase due to the great social tensions and beginning to prepare the electoral campaigns for 1940. President Cárdenas intended to generate free elections, one of the objectives of cardenismo to try to revitalize the ideal of democracy.

However during these there were numerous accusations of corruption and manipulation. The Cardenismo came to an end in these elections, obtaining the presidency the leader of the recently reformulated Party of the Mexican Revolution Manuel Ávila Camacho.

Bibliographic references:

  • Knight, A. (1994). "Cardenismo: Juggernaut or Jalopy?" J. of Latin Am. Studies 26.
  • Becker, M. (1995). Setting the Virgin on Fire: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán Peasants, and the Redemption of the Mexican Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Early Post Revolutionary Mexico (April 2024).

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