Incautious Mexico

The transition of the political power (1920-1960)

By Cerón Santos Eduardo

Inside of the transformations that Mexico has lived along its history, it is of great interest, the changes that Mexico has had its Political System, seen this as the axis rector of the events of national and historical transcendency. Such transformations take us to observe the strategies that have allowed diverse people to end up reaching the power and the coordination of the Mexican State, from it birth, sometimes wrapped in bloody facts, like in wars or revolutions, until of having made of doubtful genuineness. These strategies, as appropriate resources to each time or circumstance, they have varied chronologically, as well as the profiles and the characters’ performances that have been the main actors in the construction of the Political System that today knows. It turns out then to carry out a retrospective one on the diverse facts and means, of which the main actors were been worth of happening historical-political in their ascent to the power, from the invigoration of the candidate’s figure by means of having made of bloody nature until arriving to the year of 1970. 

“Political system: Group of Institutions, forces, structures, relationships, groups and processes, for those which and through which is generated, it is distributed, it is used and it modifies the political power in a society and certain historical phase.” 

Having like reference this definition of the political system, it would be adapted to carry out a synthesis of the origins of the Mexican Political System, from the government of Álvaro Obregón until the final of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz’ government. The State was created as factor of cohesion and balance among the different manifestations of the society. In the origins we find to the authoritarian monarchic State; a state that it left the individual initiatives outside; a State that dictated laws and it judged. This later propitiated the emergence of the State-nation in a context with the break of the colonialism. Of there it comes off that the reformation of the State arises for the pressures of an emergent modern society toward the change. This society is the one that begins to play a protagonistic and preponderant part in the political development of Mexico. Certainly, the State encouraged and it promoted the organization forms and social intermediation, it was this way with the big corporations, confederations and central in those that were integrated workers, peasants and groups mediators in the organizations of the cameras of the private sector with specific regulations from the State and, finally, also with the main political party. 

Álvaro Obregón was always characterized by its cheerful and mocking character, for his fame of vengeful and resentful, but also for a great initiative.His government could be defined as “reestructurator”: it diminished the army to not more than 60,000 troops; it renewed the diplomatic relationships with United States; it celebrated the centennial of the consummation of the independence and with that reason it ordered to coin currencies to substitute the notes of Carranza; it ordered to repair the one wired telegraphic and the roads of the railroad; norms settled down for the election and the operation of the diplomatic and consular bodies. The operation of the Company Shipping Mexican began and the National School of Agriculture was transferred to Chapingo However, at the end of his government there were some risings headed by old revolutionary troops. Obregón knew how to repress them and in November of 1924 he gave the power to Plutarco Elías Calles.

These elections were marked by the other candidate’s murder, Francisco Serrano beside several of their friends, in the one in route to Cuernavaca, in October 3rd of 1927.  When in 1927 the Constitution again was modified as for the principle of the non reelection, the Congress called again to Obregón and he was elect in July of 1928. They were many who opposed to his reelection, especially some Catholic organizations. Obregón suffered an attack in Chapultepec, and as a consequence of this, the priest’s shooting Miguel was ordered, of his brother Humberto, of the engineer Luis Segura Vilchis and of Juan Tirado.In 1924, Plutarco Elías Calles is elected president of the Republic. During his government the Bank of Mexico was create, highways, preys, watering systems and schools were built. Also the call “Guerra Cristera” begins, because his administration began a series of measures against the Catholic Church. This conflict would not finish up to 1929. Since his wife died in June 27th of 1927 his daughter was the first lady of that date until the end of his federal government.At the end of the administration of Calles, Álvaro Obregón presented as candidate to the presidency again, being chosen in 1928. Some days after the election, he’s murdered in the restaurant “La Bombilla” of San Ángel’s neighborhood, in the Mexico City, by José de León Toral. A designer, religious fanatic was brought near to show him his cartoon, and while Obregón observed it, the designer shot to him.It is important to highlight that, in a context that was favourable so that you Remain silent it extended his government, he opted to begin what called in his last report of Government, “the stage of the institutions” of the Mexican Revolution. Thanks to it also proceeded according to that prepared by the Constitution by that that the Congress of the Union interim president designated Emilio Portes Gil who summoned to new elections for 1929.

The message before the Congress didn’t stop to be, however, a paradox in itself, because although Calles spoke of the necessity of stopping to be a country of commanders to become a country of institutions, he became an archetypal commander.In March 4th of 1929, Calles founded the Party National Revolutionary (PNR) predecessor of the PRI. This party was born like a federation of regional political parties, diverse and general political groups and commanders survivors of the armed fight.Calles imagined to the PNR like a party that it allowed to solve in a civilized way the dilemmas of the dispute for the power and of the presidential succession for the institutional road and not for the weapons, like he had come being in Mexico, from the consummation of the independence.Ortiz Rubio. His election was plagued of irregularities, he faced, on one hand, to the obregonist’ candidate Aaron Sáenz and, mainly, he faced the civic candidacy of the former rector of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, José Vasconcelos Calderón. The election was very disputed and doubts exist about the truthfulness of the official results that it allowed Ortiz Rubio to become president. The day of his taking of possession, he suffered an attack against his life in the National Palace. Although his regimen was brief, he had great importance since he recognized the Spanish republic, he sent laws in favour of the citizenship, he ratified the freedom of cults, he defined the peninsular territories and it enlarged the phone net.The dynamics characteristic of the maximato, in the one that the former president Streets, the nominated “maximum boss of the Mexican Revolution”, he maintained important quotas of being able to, he made untenable the presidency of Ortiz Rubio, because of it, after two years, presented his renouncement to the position in 1932. He provisionally gave the Presidency to Abelardo L. Rodríguez.

Rodríguez exercised the presidency in substitute’s of September 4th of 1932 quality up to November 30th of 1934 in quality of Interim Constitutional President from Mexico, with the same politics that had in his time of governor of Baja California.  During his presidency it promulgated the reformation antireeleccionist to the Constitution that avoided the immediate reelection of all the positions of popular election, established starting from April 29th of 1933.He reformed the Law of the Patrimony Ejidal, he created the Mortgaged Bank and of Works Public today National Bank of Works and Public Services (BANOBRAS) one of the few banks paraestatals that began to work in February of 1933.Also, with the Law of Private Charity he settled down that the private organisms of altruism; they were regulated by the Secretary of Government. Also he sends to the Congress the initiative of the Organic Law of the Autonomous National University of Mexico and a law against the monopolies.He granted, for ordinance of May 2nd of 1933 the complete control of changes to the Bank of Mexico.He established in January 5th of 1934, the minimum wage, and in October 10th of the same year, the 3° article was reformed in the Constitution to establish the socialist education.  On the other hand, he demanded to the church that it holds to the law, having serious political confrontations with the clergy in Veracruz, Tabasco and Jalisco. His government finished in November 30th of 1934, when he was changed by Lázaro Cárdenas. 

Lázaro Cárdenas del Río. Their first years in the government they were marked by the confrontation with the general Plutarco Elías Calles, to the one whom finally forced to abandon the country in 1936.To consolidate his power, he made a series of union organisms of character official Confederation National Peasant and Confederation of Workers from Mexico and he proceeded to reorganize his party, now under the name of Party of the Mexican Revolution, modifying it structure, for that with the purpose of being a federation of local and regional parties, he integrated with four big sectors (peasant, worker, popular and military).  In 1937, for intercession of their wife Amalia Solórzano who presided over the Committee of Help to the Children of the Spanish Town, granted asylum 456 minor, orphans of war and republican combatants’ children that were taken to Mexico, at the request of the Ibero-American Committee of Help to the Spanish Town, giving them lodging, sustenance and education in the city of Morelia. With spending of the years, the group was known as the Children of Morelia.Between 1937 and 1938, he proceeded to complete the nationalization of the rail net and, after an employer labour conflict, to condemn the goods of the companies oil residents in Mexico, which caused the rupture of relationships with the United Kingdom. 

He faced intent suddenly of state headed by the saturnine general Cedillo who was dead in combat.  Also during his governmet the Castle of Chapultepec, the rulers’ of the country old residence, became the Museum of National History. In a same way, he impelled initiatives to close game houses and, breaking up with the strategy continued by Calles, the hostility ceased toward the Catholic Church. Also, in the social environment and academic focused to the education it founded the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). He Modified the Agrarian Law, he also enlarged the net of highways and it allowed the entrance to the political refugees of many countries, among them 40 thousand Spanish refugees of the civil war.

Ávila Camacho should also face also the candidacy of the general Juan Andrew Almazán. Almazán was able to agglutinate the sympathies of sectors that were considered affected by the agrarian, educational and economic politicians of the cardenismo.The ruptures generated by the leaderships of Mújica and Almazán had an important effect. In that concern with Mújica, Ávila Camacho decided to name him as military boss and administrator of the territory of South Baja California. To his return of the peninsula, Mújica put on to the front of a dissident movement that finally would give life to the Party Mexican Constitutionalist.The candidacy of Almazán had an equally important effect, because he evidenced the capacity of the groups of industrial and merchants of the north of the country, of where Almazán was native, to finance candidates that represented his points of view.The campaign and the divisions in the Army (Ávila Camacho, Mújica and Almazán, were all military of high range) they demonstrated what so polarized it was the country, in spite of the almost unanimous support granted to Cárdenas’ decision of condemning the oil industry.Not only that, once elect president, Ávila Camacho should face the difficult challenge of defining the position of Mexico in the Second World War. This definition became more difficult because in Mexico were exist important groups that, for different reasons, they expressed their sympathies for the powers of the Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan). Those groups took advantage of old anti-American feelings to oppose you to an eventual participation of Mexico in the conflict. This situation became more evident, after the naval base of Pearl Harbor, Hawai, it was attacked in December of 1941 and it was clear that would enter like belligerent force in the war.In the national environment, Ávila Camacho developed political of protection to the hard-working class. The best example of them was the creation of the Mexican Institute of the Public Health in 1943, as well as the renovated efforts to reduce the illiteracy.

The agrarian reformation continued and he promulgated a freezing of rents in the first square of the Mexico City to benefit the citizens with low wages.The “president gentleman”, it was also responsible, in January of 1946, of a wide reformation of the structure, he devises and political program of the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM). As consequence of that reformation the current Party Institutional Revolutionary (PRI), it emerged as a united party that was robbed of many of the key elements of their ideology national revolutionary.His politics as for the agricultural sector went since from support to the private property it considered it in more productive than the ejidal one, for it caused confrontations with those responsible for the agrarian politics of the cardenismo. This change, however, it was attenuated by the one renovated demand of Mexican products that the Second World War generated, as well as for the capacity of Ávila Camacho to reorient the priorities of the national development when, at the end of 1944, it was clear that the powers of the Axis would not be able to win the war.He was his government so it made more rigid the political protective that had been continued, as only exit possible to the crisis of 1929, during the decade of the thirty. This politics included first floor taxes to the production, compensated with high taxes to the imports. The declared objective was the one of industrializing to the country and for it its government provided credits to basic industries, dedicating, for example, more than the half (55.1 percent) of the budget of the field of communications and transports to the infrastructure creation for the companies.Ávila Camacho leaves the presidency in 1946 to Miguel Alemán Valdés.

During Miguel Aleman’s presidential period, the country increased its net of highways, railroads and public works considerably; he improved the watering systems and the agrarian allotment grew. The private investment was also favored, with it increased the rhythm of industrialization of the country. In the city of Mexico the growth of cities accelerated, standing out the construction of units multifamiliaries for government’s employees. Also, in his government, Baja California became a free state and sovereign. Also diverse public works were built, among those that highlight, the University City, the National School of Teachers, Music’s National Conservatory and numerous schools for the primary education. In a same way, he narrowed diplomatic relationships with the United States. As part of their nation project, the treatment of beginning the industrialization, opening technical schools for the training to young in the work, and forgetting the agriculture. To contain the inflation, he devaluated the currency in 1948, generating a monetary devaluation of the weight in 90%. It extended the benefits from the Mexican Institute of Public Health to the most important cities.

He also made long term plans for the state oil industry; he improved the supply of water of the city of Mexico; he carried out a campaign to increase the number of schools; and he constituted in the capital a unique university city in the world, for it style and dimensions. He confronted with success the colonization of the new arable lands of the north area, attracting to the same ones to peasants from Tlaxcala and of the center of the country. However, his administration was accused of corruption, and soon after of concluding its command economic problems they appeared.

In October 14th of 1951, Ruiz Cortines surrendered the protest like candidate to the presidency for the Institutional Revolutionary Party. His government motto was Austerity and Work. He exercised a severe control of the public expense, he supported the construction of roads, rail nets, preys, schools and hospitals; he put into practice the plan “La Marcha al Mar”, with the purpose of to take to the coastal areas the surpluses of the population of the highland and to achieve a better use and development of the marine resources and the malaria was eradicated; he made the Program of Rural Social Well-being to improve the conditions of the rural population’s of the country life, impelled the agrarian allotment, he condemned foreigners’ latifundios but it respected the small property. He also put into practice the Agricultural Insurance, to protect the farmers of the natural catastrophes.  When beginning his government, the president Ruiz Cortines sent a law initiative to reform the article 34 of the Constitution, with the purpose of granting to the woman equals political rights than to the man, and the vote was granted to the Mexican woman. To effect of promoting measures to solve the necessity of houses room, he made the National Institute of the Housing; he gave stimuli to the industry, particularly to the medium and small; he put the bases for the development of the petrochemistry and it impelled the creation of employments.In attention to the technical advances achieved in the field of the nuclear energy, and considering that Mexico couldn’t remain to the margin of that development, he made the National Commission of Nuclear Energy. The primary and half education were impelled largely, and of special way, the polytechnician and the university student, because it was Adolfo who equipped the facilities of the Autonomous National University of Mexico and he began the subsidies to the county universities. The balance of his government was positive; the economy of the country had a high growth. The wages of the workers grew at a superior level at the cost of the life and he instituted the annual bonus of the Christmas gift for the public servants. In December 10th of 1958 he gave the power to his successor Adolfo López Mateos; Adolfo Ruiz Cortines the last president that participated in the Mexican Revolution was.

During López Mateos’ administration, he nationalized the electric industry, he made the National Commission of the Gratuitous Books of Text, he made possible the participation of the workers in the utilities of the companies, he put the limits for the fixation of the minimum wages and he made the Institute of Security and Social Services of the Workers of the State (ISSSTE), besides strengthening the technological teaching with more support to the IPN. Also he made the National Institute of Protection to the Childhood (INPI), he improved the socioeconomic level of the Mexicans and the industry grew 51.9% as a result of significant investments in the self-driven, petrochemical sectors, mechanic and of paper.In September 25th of 1964, after long negotiations with the United States, he was able to recover “El Chamizal”, Mexican territory that had gotten lost for a change in the course of the Brave River. López Mateos narrowed diplomatic relationships of Mexico with the world and he always fought for the respect to the self-determination and the non interference in the matters of the towns.In little Gustavo Díaz Ordaz’ big political lines differ of those of their predecessor. The public expense is shared in a similar way. He continuous a continuous program of infrastructure works. The stability of the peso is stone of touch of the economy. It continues with the agrarian credit although the official language sustains that there are no longer more lands to distribute.This tone that there is a road predetermined for the country, that of the Mexican Revolution, makes that their presidential reports seem those of a fork of books that single list the figures of that made. The political change in his positions is given in terms of the labor politics, the Olympiad of 1968, the student movement of that year, the programming intents and the control to López Mateos’ foreign policy.

Díaz Ordaz’ government gave a great impulse to the teaching, he fomented the economic development of Mexico, at the same time that he intensified the integral agrarian plan and he increase the rural industrialization, the irrigation works and the electrification of the country. In 1967 he made a trip to all the countries of Central America and he agreed with them diverse agreements of economic and cultural character. That same year he was signed in the capital of the Republic, under their auspice, the one denominated “Tratado de Tlatelolco”, of which the Organism must arise for the Proscription of Nuclear Weapons of Latin America (OPANAL). During his government, he faced with hardness a series of student strikes that it culminated in the bloody events of Tlatelolco, happened in little October of 1968, before the beginning of the Olympic Games that it will take place also in the city of Mexico. In December 1st 1970 succeed him in the presidency the one that had been their first secretary of Government, Luis Echeverría Álvarez 

I have mentioned that from their beginnings it has been present always the fight for the power, being this daily one in the politics’ life.

The power that one wants to achieve the Presidency, it causes the fight that becomes in some occasions violent, mainly in the century beginnings, we have lived in a politics from military, until a manager and in which there have been changes in the economic structure from a basic economy until a structural change where was believed to be in a country of first world.

All this bears to visualize that the politics can be been worth of diverse strategies to achieve its objectives and help to strengthen the organizations, parties and candidates, helping them to be promoted, to win sympathy and facilitating to them the communication through the diverse means.

Until this point in the history have been able to appreciate that the political change turns in different types of relationships of power, with abrupt transformations that take place cyclically together with the social environment from the ends of the Revolution until the term of the Diaz Ordaz’ government.

Only I accent a beached question, How Mexico will be able to recapture the ideals of equality and social well-being? How? We don’t know, but the day that this question turns  a necessity will arrive, and together with the politics we will have to revalue this concept.


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