Tag: Mexico

Mexico in the 1930’s Part 2

Mexico in the 1930’s Part 2

The administration of this industry was entrusted to the Confederation of Mexican workers, which celebrated the presidential decision with a day of national jubilation. Moreover, the valorisation of workers ‘trade unions and their insertion into national life corresponds to Cárdenas’ program, as is one of the essential aspects of his policy that of aiming for the approval and favor of vast social circles, rather than isolated politicians.. In fact, he aimed to conquer the agricultural masses, with the application of the law on agrarian reform, those workers, with particular legislative provisions and with the laws of nationalization, and the army with an improvement in wages and salaries and with a radicalization of the military system.

In the popular education sector, the Cárdenas government continued the fight against illiteracy, which still stood at 59 percent in 1930. To this end, he increased the budget of the Ministry of Education and stimulated the construction of new schools (10,000 in 1935, 11,000 in 1936, 13,600 in 1937).

With regard to religious politics and the conflict between Church and State, the Cárdenas has, in a certain sense, attenuated the intransigent lines of Calles’ secular politics, or at least has attenuated the demagogic character of the same, since it is now believed that the Calles he used the anti-religious struggle to satisfy the revolutionary instincts of the masses and distract their attention from the socio-economic problems which he preferred to leave unsolved. That this more elastic tendency of the Cárdenas corresponds to the reality of things is also confirmed in a certain sense by the apostolic letter to the Mexican Church of Pius XI of March 28, 1937 which, while condemning the policy of the Mexican government, gave a glimpse of certain possibilities of conciliation.. In domestic politics, in May 1938 Cárdenas vigorously acted against the gen. Cedillo who had rebelled in the state of San Luis Potosí.

In the field of international relations, Mexico’s position in recent years has been marked by the policy of “good neighborliness” with the United States of America (which absorb most of Mexican exports) and by manifestations of societalism and pro-Sovietism in the relations with other states (in particular in the Ethiopian and Spanish questions). The hoped-for “Mexicanization” of the economy, which backfires completely against the foreign capital employed there and, in particular, the mentioned nationalization of oil resources, have aroused the protests of the most affected states, Great Britain and the United States, and have highlighted the reasons for a disagreement that will not be so easy to settle, because the governments concerned appear determined to carry out the work of defending the interests of their citizens to the end. The “good neighborly” policy with the United States has been compromised to a certain extent; as for England, the situation has worsened considerably due to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which took place on the initiative of Mexico which on May 14 recalled its representative in London (the British government replied, on the 26th, with the reminder of his representative in Mexico). It will be necessary to see if a compromise and understanding formula will still be possible, bearing in mind the strategic convenience for England of supplying Mexican oil.

All this work of structural reforms of the economy, the agitated social struggles and the extremist orientation of domestic and foreign politics seem to have served to tighten more completely around the idea of ​​the reconquest the Mexican people, but they have still had little success in stimulating agricultural and industrial production. Undoubtedly, the agrarian reform constitutes a very complex provision whose developments it is not yet possible to discern, as it is still being implemented. It has upset the lines of the Mexican economy and has wreaked havoc in agricultural production. The other social changes have also had a disturbing result, so that the only real finding that can be made is that Mexican productive capacity has improved very slightly. The population, on the other hand, according to official estimates which cannot be very precise due to the backwardness of the statistical services, would have increased by 2 between 1931 (date of the last census) and June 1936. 321,000 units, that is, the increase of this five-year period would have been greater than that of the decade 1921-31. It should also be borne in mind that Mexico is pursuing a policy of pronounced self-sufficiency, so that the found deficient improvement of certain branches of production finds its compensation in the improvement of new ones. During the recovery phase of the world economy, between 1934 and 1937, Mexico was favored by the high prices of certain raw materials, especially metals, which compensated for the deficiencies in production. The trade balance therefore showed a satisfactory upward trend as can be seen from the following data (in millions of pesos):

Finance. – We give below the figures, in millions of pesos, of the balance sheets since 1932.

As of December 31, 1936, the external debt amounted to 892 million and the internal debt to 434 million.

In July 1933 the peso was pegged to the dollar at the rate of 3.55 pesos per 1 dollar; at the beginning of 1938, however, the exchange rate was 4.28 pesos per 1 dollar. In connection with North American politics, the demonetization of silver was decreed on April 25, 1935. An important monetary-banking reform was then implemented on August 28, 1936 with two decrees that each conferred unlimited liberating power to the new notes of the Bank of Mexico (which became the sole issuing bank) and to the monetary certificates of the value of 5 US dollars, representing coins and silver bars, and to fix the maximum emission (no more than 50 pesos per capita in view tickets and commitments) and the minimum legal reserve (25% of which 4 /5 in gold and currencies and 1/5 in silver), the other to specify the central bank figure of the Bank of Mexico (which had ceased all private banking activities since 1932) and to regulate credit. On 1 September 1936 the silver coins were put back into circulation.

As of November 30, 1937, notes in circulation amounted to 288 million and as of August 31, the gold reserve was 51 million.

Navy. – New units: Gunboats: 2 (DurangoZacatecas) built in 1934-35 in Spain, of 1600 t. and 19 knots, armed with 2/102 and various anti-aircraft weapons, capable of carrying 500 men and 80 quadrupeds; 3 (PotosíQuerétaroGuanajuato) built in 1934-35 in Spain, from 1300 t. and 19 knots. armed with 3/102 and various anti-aircraft weapons, capable of carrying 250 men and 20 quadrupeds.

Coast Guard Cutter: 10 (G. 20- G. 29) built in 1934-36 in Spain, of 160 t. and 26 knots, armed with 2/25 anti-aircraft and 4 machine gunners.

Merchant Navy. The merchant navy was constituted as of June 30, 1937 by 54 ships per ton. 41,371, mainly steam. Cabotage is reserved for the flag, but has been opened, on a temporary basis, by foreign shipping due to the shortage of domestic ships.

Mexico in the 1930's 2

Mexico in the 1930’s

Mexico in the 1930’s

With the assumption of General Lázaro Cárdenas as President of the Republic on 30 November 1934, the United States of Mexico entered a new phase of its history. And this is because even though the Cárdenas came to power as an exponent of the national revolutionary party, behind which was General Plutarco Elías Calles (who was president of the republic from 1924 to 1928 and the arbiter of Mexican political life from 1928 to 1934, during the provisional presidencies of Emilio Portes Gil, P. Ortiz Rubio and Abelardo Rodríguez), he then definitively cut off the system of political corruption and personal favoritism that Calles had set up; and consequently began a policy that in its essential lines detaches itself from the easy opportunism that Calles, especially in recent years, he had preferred. And it is particularly interesting to note that this upheaval took place within the framework of the old political organization, within the program of the national revolutionary party itself. Especially the Cárdenas brought forward the realization of the Plan Sexennal del Partido Nacional Revolucionario according to the lines conceived prior to his rise to power, as the six-year plan constituted the social economic program of the aforementioned party for the presidential legislation from 1934 to 1940, which was to aim at the realization of the ” grandeza económica de Mexico bajo el amparo de la justicia social “.

The ideology of this party is clearly characterized in its outward features by its kinship with an approximate and second-hand Marxist preaching (which explains the reddening attitudes of Mexican politics in recent years) while in practice it pursues a policy of strict national regeneration, to strongly nationalist and autarchic tints. This party has an important function in the life of the Mexican state, since, at present, Mexico stands by its constitutional physiognomy within the framework of one-party states, and, in short, the position of the Mexican national revolutionary party is configured the same. for his attributions to that of the National Fascist Party in Italy and the National Socialist Party in Germany.

The Cárdenas before his election, in accordance with the directives of the party, advocated the promotion of nationalism, political democracy, agrarian reform, popular education and the limitation of the powers of the Church. During the administration of the Cárdenas these trends did not remain a dead letter and led to quite radical transformations of Mexican economic and social life, so much so that they characterize the current position of Mexican politics and its development tendencies quite precisely.

The sector in which the Cárdenas acted most decisively and in which he brought the greatest changes was the agricultural sector, with the continuation of the agrarian reform.

Which finds its legislative basis in the constitution of 1917, which contains precise provisions for the division of the large estates into small properties of the direct farmer or for the establishment of ejidos, that is, of the collective properties of the village. By the end of 1934, 8,197,023 hectares of land had been distributed to peasant communities and 806,058 heads of families had benefited from it. At that time it was estimated that 1,200,000 rural household heads still had to benefit from the provision of the law, so that what had been done appeared very little to what remained to be done. Consequently, according to the party’s electoral promises, the Cárdenas continued the agrarian reform, instead of the system of direct distribution of the land to the peasants, it followed the system of the ejido, which differs substantially from that of small properties. In fact the title of ownership of the ejido it does not belong to the farmer household but to the village on which he depends and the land is inalienable. The fertile portion of the village’s land is divided into small, roughly equal plots, which are allotted to all the working agricultural household heads, who are called the ejidatarios. L ‘ ejidatario he has the right to keep his lot during his natural life and to pass it on to the heirs upon his death, but he loses all rights to it when he abandons its cultivation for two consecutive years. He has no right to take out mortgages or to transfer possession of them in any way. Between 1935 and 1936 6,334,266 hectares of land were distributed to 412,798 heads of households, that is, in two years the Cárdenas regime distributed three quarters of land than had been distributed in twenty years by previous governments. Parallel to this work of social transformation (which continued to a greater extent in 1937) the government undertook the construction of large public land reclamation works, especially for the diffusion of irrigation systems: in fact, in recent years 37 artificial lakes, including the large El Palmito dam, for the irrigation of 250,000 hectares of grain land. And in order to facilitate the successful implementation of the great reform undertaken, the government has stimulated the formation of agricultural production and consumption cooperatives and has helped the formation of an adequate agricultural credit system. The Agricultural Credit Bank, which has been transformed within the lines of the new social trends, and the National Credit Bank of ejidos, which due to its complex organization should be able to fulfill the function of anticipating the necessary means of sustenance to the ejidatarios before the harvest.

In the other sectors of the economy, the government of Cárdenas favors the formation of a state socialism. It has created the necessary legislative bases for this purpose.

For example, the law on expropriations that went back to 1857 was radically changed; with the law of 23 November 1936 instead of talking about the reason of “public necessity” for the justification of expropriation, a much broader formula was adopted which recognizes the reason for expropriation in the consideration of the reason for “public and social welfare”. It was under the provisions of this new law that on 23 June 1937 a presidential decree ordered the nationalization of the railways. And, again in June 1937, another presidential decree laid the foundations for government regulation of the production, distribution and sale of agricultural and industrial products.

But the meeting point of the social and nationalist political needs of the Cárdenas regime can be seen in its attitude towards foreign oil companies. The nationalization of oil mines is provided for by art. 27 of the 1917 constitution, but the realization of this cornerstone of the fundamental law of the state has been postponed due to the pressure of the foreign states concerned, in particular that of the United States. And it was precisely as a result of the pressure of the United States ambassador that a law of 1925, which, in order to get closer to the implementation of that postulate, set the limit of 50 years on oil concessions, was repealed by a law of Calles of 1928. In the November 1937 some facilities of the Cárdenas to the Mexican Eagle Company presumed a more liberal orientation of his government towards foreign oil companies, and indeed on that occasion the Cárdenas declared that he would use the higher revenues from the oil concessions for the rapid implementation of the national economic reconstruction program. Therefore, the news arrived rather unexpectedly that with a measure of March 19, 1938, the Cárdenas had decided to expropriate the companies that owned oil fields.

The reason for the expropriation was considered the refusal of the oil companies to submit to the decisions of the Junta de Conciliación y de Arbitrage which, regarding a dispute between the employees of this industry and the concessionary companies, had issued a sentence that condemned the companies to pay the arrears., to adopt a 40-hour weekly schedule and other provisions in favor of workers. The expropriation decree establishes the companies’ right to compensation which will be paid to them in 10 years.

Mexico in the 1930's