The Mexican Revolution II: Cárdenas and the Frozen Legacy

       I.            Lazaro Cardenas (President, 1934-40)

A.    Breaks the power of Calles, ending the Sonoran Dynasty

B.     Pursues radical nationalist project – last great reformist of the Mexican Revolution

C.     Culmination of social revolution

D.    Continuities with Sonoran Dynasty and Liberal legacy

1.State-building and centralization of power

2.Developmental capitalism

    II.            Agrarian Reform under Cardenas

A.    Multiple goals

1.Do in enemies, reward supporters

2.Create revenue streams to fund industrial development

3. Nationalization of key foreign-owned industries -- oil and railroads both successfully nationalized

B.     Centered on the ejido

1.Ejido - Communal lands of an Amerindian community

2.Land distributed to communities collectively, not individual titles

3.Liberates peasants from large landowners without breaking land into tiny plots

4.Ejidos worked collectively as large farms

a.       State provided support in training, equipment, seeds, road, electricity, etc.

b.      Enabled peasants to get land while maintaining large farms to support industrial development

c.       Created an easy platform for state patronage to ensure political loyalty

C.     Impact of the ejidos

1.Significant land redistribution, with 47% of arable lands in ejidos

2.Government support enabled success and also built up rural infrastructure

3.Not as productive as large private farms, but commercially viable

4.Productivity would decline as much state support  faded after Cardenas

5.Creates social stratification between those peasants who had ejidos and those that did not

 III.            Education Reform under Cardenas

A.    Closely linked to agrarian reform, as only “modern” peasant could take advantage

B.     “Socialist Education”

1. Revolution imposed from above with rural maestro as foot-soldier of revolution

2.Secularization of education

3.Collectivist ethics and class consciousness

4.Promotion of Vaconselos’s indigenismo and cosmic race

5.Social change through education – sex education, hygiene, skills training, etc.

6.Social change resisted, but nationalism advanced and significant decline in illiteracy

 IV.            After Cardenas – The Frozen Revolution

A.    Ruling party (PRI) reorganized on corporatist lines; leads to corruption, non-responsiveness

B.     Pursuit of ISI (Import-Export Substitution Industrialization)

1.Significant economic growth, with heavy state involvements

2.High prices for low quality goods and increasing income disparity

C.     Increasing autocracy, symbolized by massacre on the eve of the 1968 Olympics

D.    Boom and bust

1.Discovery of new oil fields in 1960s and 1970s leads to rapid boom

2.State and population goes on spending spree, leading to massive borrowing and rapid inflation

3.Oil price crash in 1982 forces austerity, high unemployment

E.     The NAFTA years

1. Mexico pursues neoliberalism and enters a free trade agreement with U.S. and Canada in 1994

2.Leads to growth in industrial-scale agriculture and and low-wage industries like the maquiladores

3.Competition from U.S. farmers pushes many rural Mexicans off the land, fueling immigration to U.S.

4.Increasing Mexican involvement in drug trade fuels high levels of corruption

5.Zapatista rebellion arises in Chiapas to combat the neoliberal state

6.PRI loses presidency in 2000 election