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Cardenismo: Juggernaut or Jalopy?*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2009

Alan Knight
Alan Knight is Professor of Latin American History at the University of Oxford.


Historians all agree that the Cárdenas presidency was a crucial period in the development of twentieth-century Mexico. They would not agree as to the reasons for its importance. The range of interpretations is so wide and, at times, so nuanced, that it is risky to try to summarise the underlying disagreements. However, there are certain key differences which can be emphasised; and I shall begin this article with a quick review of what I consider those key differences to be.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

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1 Léon, Samuel, ‘Cárdenas en el poder (I)’, in Garciadiego, Javier et al. , Evolutión del estado mexicano: Reestmcturación, 1910–1940 (Mexico, 1986), p. 219Google Scholar.

2 By ‘democratic’ I do not necessarily mean ‘liberal-democratic’ (as I make clear later in the article). ‘Democratic’ simply implies a genuine measure of popular representation – which may take varied forms. ‘Authoritarian’ means the absence of popular representation: decision-making from the top.

3 ‘Revisionist’ is not a term of abuse and has nothing to do with Eduard Bernstein. It denotes a recent current of historical interpretation which, reacting against orthodox views of the Mexican Revolution, tends to stress the latter's top-down, elitist, state-building, anti-popular tendencies. Experts may differ as to what ‘revisionism’ precisely is; but most believe in its existence and are happy to use the term, sometimes even applying it to themselves.

4 See the discussion in Hamilton, Nora, The Limits of State Autonomy: Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Princeton, 1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, ch. 1.

5 The most cogent statement of this view is Anguiano, Artuto, El Estado y la politica obrera del cardenismo, 9th edn. (Mexico, 1984)Google Scholar.

6 ‘Cárdenas' supporters… thought mainly in terms of modernizing the free enterprise capitalist system in order to better insure its survival’: Michaels, Albert L. and Bernstein, Marvin, ‘The Modernization of the Old Order: Organization and Periodization of Twentieth-Century Mexican History’, in Wilkie, James C., Meyer, Michael C. and de Wilkie, Edna Monzón (eds.), Contemporary Mexico (Berkeley, 1976), p. 701Google Scholar; see also Anguiano, El Estado, pp. 42–5, 65, 79–80; Hamilton, Limits of State Autonomy, pp. 139–40; and Salamini, Heather Fowler, Agrarian Radicalism in Veracruz, 1920–38 (Lincoln, 1978), pp. 112–13Google Scholar.

7 Warman, Arturo, Y venimos a contradecir: los campesinos de Morelos y el estado nacional (Mexico, 1976), p. 195Google Scholar; Haber, Stephen R., Industry and Underdevelopment: The Industrialisation of Mexico, 1890–1940 (Stanford, 1989)Google Scholar, ch. 10; Garrido, Luis Javier, El partido de la Revolución institucionalizada (Mexico, 1986), p. 294Google Scholar.

8 Córdova, Arnaldo, La politica de masas del cardenismo, 2nd edn. (Mexico, 1976)Google Scholar.

9 Knight, Alan, ‘The Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist? Or just a “Great Rebellion“?’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, vol. 4, no. 1 (1985), pp. 45CrossRefGoogle Scholar, for some doubts about Bonapartism.

10 Holloway, John and Picciotto, Sol, State and Capital: A Marxist Debate (London, 1978)Google Scholar, is a useful collection.

11 Evans, Peter et al. (eds.), Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge, 1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Knight, ‘The Mexican Revolution’, p. 11; ‘Presentatión’, in Garciadiego et al., Evolutión del Estado Mexicano, p. 11.

13 Meyer, Jean, La Revolutión Mexicana, 1910–40 (Barcelona, 1973)Google Scholar.

14 Becker, Marjorie, ‘Lázaro Cárdenas, cultural cartographers, and the limits of everyday resistance in Michoacán, 1934–40’, paper given at the 46th International Conference of Americanistas, Amsterdam, 1988Google Scholar; Krauze, Enrique, General misionero: Lázaro Cárdenas (Mexico, 1987), pp. 39Google Scholar, 147, terms Cárdenas ‘an implacable manipulator of the masses’ who, in the words of Rubén Salazar Mallén (1939) presided over a ‘new Porfirismo’.

15 Anguiano, El Estado, p. 65; Saldaña, Tomás Martínez, ‘Formatión y transformatión de una oligarquía: el caso de Arandas, Jalisco’, in Saldaña, Martínez and Mendoza, Leticia Gándara, Política y sociedaden México: el caso de los Altos de Jalisco (Mexico, 1976), p. 109Google Scholar; Krauze, General misionero, p. 87.

16 North, Liisa and Raby, David, ‘The Dynamics of Revolution and Counter-revolution: Mexico under Cárdenas, 1934–40’, Latin American Research Unit Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (1977)Google Scholar; Benítez, Fernando, Lázaro Cárdenasy la Revolutión Mexicana, t. III. El cardenismo (Mexico, 1978):Google Scholar Hamilton, The Limits of State Autonomy; Shulgovski, Anatol, México en la encrucijada de su historia (Mexico, 1968)Google Scholar; Medin, Tzvi, ldeologia y praxis político de Lázaro Cárdenas, 14th ed. (Mexico, 1987), p. 225Google Scholar.

17 Gilly, Adolfo, La revolutión interrumpida (Mexico, 1971)Google Scholar, ch. 10; Cartas a Cuauhtemoc Cardenas (Mexico, 1989). Gilly will shortly publish a major study of the Cárdenas government.

18 For Catholic critics, the Revolution went sour c. 1913; liberal/Maderista critics (e.g.Federico González Garza) might date the fall from grace similarly; others (e.g.Cabrera), would prefer c. 1920 or (e.g. Vasconcelos), c. 1924. The liberal opposition tended to receive reinforcements every time the political wheel turned and a new batch of political ‘outs’ was created: see n. 20 below.

19 Carr, Barry, ‘Crisis in Mexican Communism: The Extraordinary Congress of the Mexican Communist Party’, Science and Society, vol. 50, no. 4 and vol. 51, no. 1 (1987)Google Scholar.

20 Cabrera, Luis, Un ensayo comunista en México (Mexico, 1937)Google Scholar; Cedillo, Saturnino, ‘Manifiesto a todo el campesinaje de México’, 16 08 1938Google Scholar, denouncing ‘e l Dictador Cardenas’ and urging his audience not to allow ‘opportunist traitors to stain the honour of the true Mexican Revolution with COMMUNIST theory’: Archivo Francisco Múgica, Centro de Estudios de la Revolutión Mexicana Lázaro Cárdenas, Jiquilpan (henceforth: AFM), vol. 106 doc. 36;; De la Huerta's criticism was more oblique (as befitted a recently returned exile): Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 29 Nov. 1935, FO 371/18707, A10789; El Hombre Libre, 11 Dec. 1935, on Portes Gil's repudiation of the ‘exotic theory’ of Communism; Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 28 Nov. 193;, FO 371/18707, A10580, concurred that ‘the administration now in power is attempting to force advanced Marxian ideas down the throats of people in no way prepared to receive them’. Cabrera's 1937 diatribe should be read in light of his longstanding job as legal retainer of the Tlahualilo Cotton Co., one of the chief victims of the 1936 Laguna reparto.

21 Jorge Prieto Laurens to Vicente Lombardo Toledano, 17 Sep. 1936, AFM 106/209; Vasconcelista manifesto, Nuevo León, 23 Aug. 193;, AFM 106/41; ‘Juicio del Maestro Don José Vasconcelos’ in Equihua, Victoriano Anguiano, Lázaro Cárdenas: su feudo y la político nacional (Mexico, 1951), p. 11Google Scholar.

22 Krauze, El general misionero: Anguian o Equihua, Lázaro Cárdenas. For Cárdenas's views on Anguiano Equihua – a ‘sterile chicken’, consumed by unsated political ambition – see his speech to the ex-alumnos of Escuelas Secundarias para Hijos de Trabajadores, 20 April 1957, in Lázaro Cárdenas, Archivo Particular, Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico City, rollo 11, part 2.

23 This article derives from work-in-progress; its conclusion are in no sense definitive; and it may be that some of the cited primary sources – for example, British Foreign Office reports and the correspondence collected in the Archivo Francisco Múgica – tend, from their contrasting positions, to reinforce the arguments being advanced.

24 Hamilton, Limits of State Autonomy, pp. 129–30; Chávez, Alicia Hernández, Historia de la Revolutión Mexicana, periodo 1934–40. La mecánica cardenista (Mexico, 1979)Google Scholar.

25 The analysis of these linkages – and of the mutation of liberal patriotism into Cardenista nationalism – would repay further research. I have touched upon the subject in ‘Revolutionary Project, Recalcitrant People: Popular Culture and the Mexican Revolution’, in Jaime, Rodríguez O. (ed.), The Revolutionary Process in Mexico: Essays on Political and Social Change, 1880–1940 (Los Angeles, 1990), pp. 227–64Google Scholar.

26 Friedrich, Paul, The Princess of Naranja. An Essay in Anthrohistorical Method (Austin, 1986)Google Scholar; Gledhill, John, Casi Nada: A Study of Agrarian Reform in the Homeland of Cardenismo (Albany, 1991), chs. 2–4Google Scholar.

27 Rees, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 19 Dec. 1939, FO 371/24217, A359. For accounts of presidential visits, see González, Luis, Pueblo en vilo: Microhistoria de San José de Gracia, 2nd ed. (Mexico, 1972), pp. 191–2Google Scholar; Craig, Ann L., The First Agraristas: An Oral History of a Mexican Agrarian Reform Movement (Berkeley, 1983), pp. 136–7Google Scholar. Both the Fondo Lázaro Cárdenas and the Directión General de Gobierno of the Archivo General de la Nación (henceforth: AGN/FLC and AGN/DGG respectively) are crammed with petitions and solicitations, some of which strike a personal chord and suggest something of Cárdenas's popular and paternalist image. For example, Consuelo Torres, a courthouse typist of Toluca, to Cárdenas, 17 Dec. 1935, AGN/DGG 2.331.8 (12) 723, caja 29A, catalogues a series of personal tribulations – dead father, sick mother, low pay, overdue rent for a single room in a casa de vecindad, concluding: ‘he abierto a ud mi corazón como si fuera ud mi padre’.

28 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 28 April 1936, FO 371/19792, A4142.

29 David (Fonseca Mora), Lookout Mt, Ternn, to Sra Antonia Mora Vda de Fonseca (‘Mamacita’), Guadalajara, 16 Aug. 1935, AFM 106/48.

30 Brown, Lyle C., ‘Cárdenas: Creating a Campesino Power Base for Presidential Policy’, in Wolfskill, George and Richmond, Douglas W. (eds.), Essays on the Mexican Revolution: Revisionist Views of the headers (Austin, 1979), pp. 109, 114–23Google Scholar.

31 Carr, ‘Crisis in Mexican Communism’.

32 El Hombre Libre, 11 Dec. 1935.

33 ‘Advertencias al venerable clero y fieles del arzobispado de México’, n.d., AFM 106/116, spelling out the risk of excommunication incurred by various levels of commitment to the PNR and its policies (especially socialist education).

34 Anguiano, El Estado, p. 92.

35 Hemán Laborde, the PCM leader, made a forthright distinction between the Cárdenas government and those of Batista and Vargas, ‘gobiernos traidores vendidos a Wall Street’: speech in Cleveland, Ohio, 28 Dec. 1935, AFM 106/155. For more recent scholarly distinctions along the same lines: Hamilton, The Limits of State Autonomy, pp. 137–8,141; and, for a critique of the catch-all category of ‘populism’, Roxborough, Ian, ‘Unity and Diversity in Latin American History’, Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 16 (1984), pp. 126CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 Craig, The First Agraristas, pp. 129–30.

37 Antonio V. Sánchez, President, Unión Agrícola Regional de Chapala, to Lázaro Cárdenas, Jan. 1938, AF M vol. 179, p. 295.

38 González, Luis, Historia de la Revolucio'n Mexicana, Periodo 1934–40. Los días del presidente Cárdenas (Mexico, 1981), pp. 89107, 145–51, 157–63, 206–11Google Scholar.

39 de Janvry, Alain, The Agrarian Question and Reformism in Latin America (Baltimore, 1981)Google Scholar.

40 Conway, President of the Mexican Tramways Co., quoted in Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 17 Oct. 1935, FO 371/18703, 9251.

41 Knight, Alan, ‘Land and Society in Revolutionary Mexico: The Destruction of the Great Haciendas’, Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, vol. 7, no. 1 (winter 1991), pp. 73104CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

42 Anguiano, El Estado, p. 42.

43 Pyke, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 29 Nov. 1935, FO 371/18707, 10787; David (Fonseca Mora), Lookout Mt, Tenn., to Sra Antonia Mora Vda de Fonseca (‘Mamacita’), Guadalajara, 16 Aug. 193$, AFM 106/48. Three years later Mexico was still not Communist, but landlords were still lamenting their lot. For one example among many, see the report of Gobernación agent Concepción González, 19 March 1938, concerning ‘algún hacendado del estado de Guanajuato [que] manifestó su disgusto por la situación que prevalece en el país respeto a la situación económica y haciendo infinidad de censuras para el gobierno’: AGN, Directión General de Informatión Política y Social, 000/93, t. 1, caja 4.

44 Murray, Mexico City, 3 Oct. 1936, FO 371/19790, A7912. It should be added that rumours of coups and revolts came thick and fast during 1935–6; after a brief respite, they resumed following the petroleum nationalisation of March 1938; and were given further stimulus by the Cedillo revolt (May 1938) and the 1940 presidential campaign.

45 Carr, Barry, ‘El Partido Comunista y la movilización agrarian en la Laguna, 1920–40: ¿una alianza obrero-campesina?’, Revista Mexicana de Sociologia, vol. 51, no. 1 (1989), pp. 115–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fowler Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, pp. 49–64; Craig, The First Agraristas, p. 147. Benigno Serrato, who replaced Cárdenas as Governor of Michoacán in 1932 and set out to scupper the radical Cardenista Confederación Revolucionaria Michoacana de Trabajo, was adamant that – in the case of the big plantations of Nueva Italia – ‘the unrest and rebellion of the workers have been caused by Communist leaders’, ‘very dangerous’ men, who had ‘acquired such authority that the workers repudiate and question their old representatives’: Serratos to Gobernación, 15 Jan. 1933, citing Victoriano Anguiano, AGN/DGG 2.331.8 (12), caja 29A. Nueva Italia would later be one of the major experiments in agrarian collectivisation under Cárdenas.

46 Gallop, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, Oct. 1936, F O 371/19790, A9081.

47 Palabras y documentos públicos de Láqaro Cárdenas, 1928–1940, t. I (Mexico, 1978), p. 139.

48 Saragoza, Alex M., The Monterrey Elite and the Mexican State, 1880–1940 (Austin, 1988), pp. 170–88Google Scholar.

49 Múgica to Cárdenas, 16 June 1938, AFM vol. 179, p. 361.

50 Palabras y documentos, pp. 191–2.

51 León, Samuel and Marván, Ignacio, La clase obrera en la historia de México: en el cardenismo (1934–46) (Mexico, 1985), pp. 8898Google Scholar.

52 Brown, ‘Cárdenas: Creating a Campesino Power Base for Presidential Policy’, pp. 114–25.

53 Farquhar, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 30 Jan. 1935, FO 371/18705, At4532; Murray, Mexico City, 20 Feb. 1936, FO 371/19792, A1876.

54 Múgica to Cárdenas, 15 Aug. and 30 Sept. 1937, AFM, vol. 179, pp. 119, 141.

55 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 17 Sept. 1935, FO 371/18708, 8586, apropos of Reuben Clark.

56 ‘Memorandum confidencia’, n.d., probably Dec. 1935, on Callista activities in Coahuila, AFM 106/147; Padilla in Palabrasy documentos, pp. 153. Many other examples could be given.

57 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 29 Oct. 1935, FO 371/18707, A9690; ibid., 31 Oct. 1935, FO 371/18707, A9693; Farquhar, Mexico City, to Foreign Office (re Aguila Co. strike), 30 Jan. 1935, FO 371/18705, A14532; Monson, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 31 Jan. 1935, FO 371/18708, A667.

58 Chávez, Hernández, La mecánica cardenista, p. 140, which also gives the figures of registered strikes (13 in 1932Google Scholar, 202 in 1934, 650 in 1935). The higher figures in the text are from Farquhar, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 24 Jan. 1935, FO 371/18705, AI337, and Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 27 Feb. 1936, FO 371/ 19792, AI876, citing CGOCM data. As the work-in-progress of Marcos Aguila of the UAM-Atzcapotzalco shows, figures of registered strikes, by neglecting actual (‘wildcat’) strikes, not to mention other indicators of shopfloor protest, significantly underestimate the incidence of such protest during the years 1932–5.

59 Medin, ldeología y praxis político de Lázaro Cárdenas, pp. 205–6; Rees, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 3 Jan. 1940, FO 371/24217, A547. The army, too, was leery of syndical power: a Gobernación informer reported a café conversation between two military officers who ‘said they were fed up with the outrages (barbaridades) of the famous sindicatos … that the President was too tolerant of them, but … that the Army was now tired of putting up with such abuse (tanto atropello)’: report of S–19, Mexico City, 12 May 1938, in AGN/Dirección General de Informatión Polí y Social, Caja 4,000/93, tomo II. The same source, 22 March 1938, tomo I, reports broad support (evident in ‘conversaciones tenidas con diversas personas en la calle’) for the oil expropriation, but considerable doubt as to the capacity of the oil workers' union, ‘opinando casi toda la gente que cuando antes el Ciudadano Presidente debe terminar con las ideas comunistas, a fin de cimentar la prosperidad de la natión, pues de lo contrario temen que será un rotundo fracaso la mencionada dispositión (sc. de expropriatión)’.

60 Saragoza, The Monterrey Elite, pp. 188–97.

61 Duggan, State Department, 5 Jan. 1938, State Department Record, 812.6363/3065; Daniels, Mexico City, to State Department, 19 March 1938, 812.6363/3103; Marte R. Gómez to Gil, Emilio Portes, 3 Feb. 1928, in Vida Política Contemporánea: Cartas de Marie R. Gómez, t. I (Mexico, 1978), pp. 194–6Google Scholar.

62 The Aguila Company's report of ‘violently anti-foreign agitation’ at its Minatitlán plant had a kernel of truth: Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 29 May 1935, FO 371/18797, A5539. Such reports provided the inspiration for blanket assertions of the ‘epidemic of economic nationalism which continues to afflict the world’, which was deemed ‘particularly acute’ in Mexico: Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 12 March 1935, FO 371/18705, A3090.

63 Cárdenas was ‘curiously innocent in these matters and did not properly appreciate business conventions as understood in Mexico’: Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 15 July 1935, FO 371//18708, A6865.

64 ‘Cárdenas has definitely thrown in his hand completely with the extreme leftist elements in the country’: Davidson (Aguila Co.) to Godber, 3 May 1940, FO 371/24217, A2619.

65 Memorandum of Minister Campos Gómez, 13 July, 1938, AFM vol. 182/4.

66 Philip, George, ‘The Expropriation in Comparative Perspective’, in Brown, Jonathan C. and Knight, Alan (eds.), The Mexican Petroleum Industry in the Twentieth Century (Austin, 1992), pp. 173–88Google Scholar.

67 Alan Knight, ‘The Politics of the Expropriation’, in Brown and Knight (eds.), The Mexican Petroleum Industry, pp. 90–128.

68 Villaseñor, Víctor Manuel, Memorias de un hombre de izquierda (Mexico, 1976), pp. 414–15Google Scholar. My own review of State Department sources (see n. 67) tends to confirm this.

69 Blocker, Monterrey, and Boyle, Agua Prieta, to State Department, 21, 24 March 1938, SD 812.6363/3134, 3188.

70 Britton, John A., Educatión j radicalismo en México, 2 vols. (Mexico, 1976)Google Scholar.

71 Farquhar, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 24 Jan. 1935, FO 371/18705, A1338.

72 Palabrasy documentos, 160; Boletín de la LNDL, 1935, AFM 106/117; José de Jesús, San Antonio, to King George V, 17 Dec. 1934, FO 371/18707, A1008.

73 Raby, David, Educatión y revolutión social en México, 1921–1940 (Mexico, 1974)Google Scholar; Friedrich, Princess of Naranja, pp. 162–3.

74 For Catholic and Sinarquista violence (chiefly in Veracruz) see AGN/Gobemación, 2/380(26)/8, Caja 40.

75 Boletín de la LNDL (n. 72 above); Artemio Martín, Ozuluama, to Gobernación, 25 Feb. 1947, AGN/Gobernación 2/380(26)/78, reports Sinarquista celebration of the memory of Iturbide and denigration of las chusmas of Hidalgo.

76 Meyer, Jean, El sinarquismo: & un fascismo Mexicano ? 1937–47 (Mexico, 1979), p. 37Google Scholar. See also Gall, Olivia, Trotsky en México (Mexico, 1991), pp. 34Google Scholar, 41, 83, which discounts Cárdenas's ideological sympathy for the Spanish Republic, and Powell, T. G., ‘Mexico’, in Falcoff, Mark and Pike, Frederick T. (eds.), The Spanish Civil War, 1936–39. American Hemispheric Perspectives (Lincoln, 1982), pp. 4599Google Scholar, especially pp. 59, 73–81, which, in contrast, stresses this sympathy, in my view correctly.

77 González, Los días del Presidente Cárdenas, pp. 132–7, 229–39.

78 Rees to Foreign Office, 2 May 1940, FO 371/24217, A2619.

79 Craig, The First Agraristas, p. 133: Pío Noriega, Higueras, Nuev o León, to General Miguel Cabanellas, Burgos, 21 Sept. 1936, AFM 106/318.

80 Carr, ‘Crisis in Mexican Communism’. For enthusiastic endorsements of Soviet society and policy, see the letters of Víctor Manuel Villaseñor to his family (from the USSR) 16, 21 Aug., 9 Sept. 1935, AFM 106/71, 72, 73.

81 Gall, Trotsky en México, pp. 30, 144–5 • Campbell, Hugh G., La derecha radical en México, 1929–1949 (Mexico, 1976)Google Scholar.

82 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 21 Nov. 1935, FO 371/18707, A10388; González, Los días del Presidente Cárdenas, p. 69, graphically illustrates the superiority of car over cavalry.

83 González, Pueblo en vilo, p. 186.

84 T. Fairbairn to R. Benson, 7, 10 Jan. 1938, Mexican Cotton Estates of Tlahualilo Papers, Kleinwort Benson Archive, Speen, Newbury, Berks, UK.

85 Meyer, El sinarquismo, pp. 44–7; Gobernación records for the 1940s indicate sustained Sinarquista support and agitation in Veracruz (see n. 74 above).

86 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 17 Oct. 1935, FO 371/18707, A9252; Melgarejo, Ramón Ramirez, ‘La bola chiquita, un movimiento campesio’, in Laura, Helguera R. et al. , Los campesinos de la tierra de Zapata, t. I, Adaptatión, cambioy rebelión (Mexico, 1974)Google Scholar, on continued ‘traditional’ peasant protest, involving El Tallanrin, in the 1940s; El Tallarín's links to the Gold Shirts are alleged in Memo, on Gold Shirt activity, 11 Sept. 1936, AFM 106/192.

87 I omit reference to the 1940s, since we have few studies of popular protest in that decade; a cursory review of the literature, and of some limited secondary sources, suggests that land seizures, hunger marches, urban demonstrations, and anticonscription protests were quite extensive: ‘we are living really on a social volcano now’, the US Ambassador reported in May 1944. See Niblo, Stephen R., ‘The Impact of War: Mexico and World War II’ (La Trobe University Institute of Latin American Studies, Occasional Paper No. 10, 1988), p. 12Google Scholar.

88 Knight, ‘The Politics of the Expropriation’. The British Minister lamented that ‘the situation has not been improved owing to the discovery by the labour unions of the extent to which they can apply still further pressure by means of sympathy strikes on a Government whose tendency is to incline whenever possible to the side of labour’: Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 15 Feb. 1935, FO 371/18075, A2058.

89 Fidel Hernández, comisario ejidal, Las Cruces, Gro, to Lázaro Cárdenas, 19 March 1938; Amado Pérez Ulloa, Sindicato Trabajadores Socialistas, Pijijiapam, Chis., to Francisco Múgica, 19 March 1938, AFM 182/155, 178.

90 That is, the more ‘traditional’ modes of expression of popular protest – premised on the patria chica, imbued with folk religiosity, harking back to past heroes like Hidalgo and Juárez – tended to give way to (or to blend with) more ‘modern’ modes: socialist, communist, internationalist. Denunciations of arbitrary local officials were as old as the colony; now, however, they were couched in a different discourse. A single example from the politically violent hot country of the Gulf lowlands: Vicente Cervantes, secretary-general of the Comité Permanente del Frente Unico de Obreros y Campesinos del Istmo, Puerto México, 12 July 1935, protests to the Governor of Veracruz concerning ‘los métodos de represión de tipo fachista’ being employed by the presidente municipal of Sayula who, with his pistoleros, attacked a May Day demonstration, ‘pues…este señor cree que tienen más fuerza sus pistolas que las fuerzas incontenibles del proletariado’: AGN/DGG, 2.331.8(26) 3173, caja 44A.

91 See Foweraker, Joe and Craig, Ann L., Popular Movements and Political Change in Mexico (Boulder, 1990)Google Scholar.

92 Hernández Chávez, La mecánica cardenista, pp. 140–47; Craig, The First Agraristas, p. 102.

93 Buvé, Raymond, ‘State Governors and Peasant Mobilization in Tlaxcala’, in Brading, D. A. (ed.), Caudillo and Peasant in the Mexican Revolution (Cambridge, 1980), pp. 229–35Google Scholar; Craig, The First Agraristas, pp. 134–5; Saldaña, Tomás Martínez, El costo social de un éxito político, La político expansionista del Estado mexicano en el agro lagunero (Chapingo, 1980), p. 35Google Scholar.

94 Murray, Mexic o City, to Foreig nOffice, 15 Feb. 1935, FO 371/18705, A20J8.

95 Knight, ‘Politics of the Expropriation’; North and Raby, ‘The Dynamics of Revolution and Counter-revolution’.

96 See the recent excellent work of Mary Kay Vaughan: ‘The implementation of national policy in the countryside: socialist education in Puebla in the Cárdenas period’, paper given at Vllth Conference of Mexican and US Historians, Oaxaca, 1986; and ‘Women School Teachers in the Mexican Revolution: The Story of Reyna's Braids’, Journal of Women's History, vol. 2, no. 1 (1990), pp. 143–68.

97 Carr, Barry, ‘El Partido Comunista’; Benjamin, Thomas, A Rich Land, A Poor People: Politics and Society in Modern Chiapas (Albuquerque, 1989), ch. 6Google Scholar; Craig, The First Agraristas; Friedrich, Paul, Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village (Chicago, 1977)Google Scholar.

98 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 17 Oct. 1935, FO 371/18707, A92J2, reports sparely that in Yucatán ‘angry peasants appear to have kicked over the traces and defied the local authorities’. Benítez, Fernando, Ki: El drama de un pueblo y una planta (Mexico, 1985)Google Scholar, gives no immediate background to the 1937 reparto. However, the current research of Gilbert Joseph and Allen Wells (on an earlier period) qualifies our impression of a docile Maya peonaje; further research on the early 1930s might do the same.

99 Bontempo, Marijosé Amerlinck de, ‘La reforma agraria en la hacienda de San Diego de Río Verde,’ in Moreno, Heriberto Garciá, Después de los latifundios [La desintegración de la gran propiedad agraria en México) (Zamora, 1982), pp. 183–98Google Scholar.

100 For examples of workers (tram workers and miners) dissenting from and putting pressure on the authorities: Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 1 Aug. 1935, FO 371/18703, A6916; Pyke, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 29 Nov. 1935, FO 371/18707, 10787.

101 British vice-consul Puerto México, 28 May 1935, FO 371/18708, A5487. The writer, of course, was witnessing labour conditions on the Isthmus, specifically at the Aguila Co. plant, which had a particularly powerful (and, in British eyes, wayward) labour movement.

102 Craig, The First Agraristas, pp. 116, 119; Alberto Olvera, ‘The Rise and Fall of Union Democracy at Poza Rica, 1932–1940’, in Brown and Knight (eds.), The Mexican Petroleum Industry, pp. 63–89.

103 Friedrich, Princess of Naranja.

104 Martinez Saldaña, El costo social, pp. 33, 35.

105 Jeffrey W. Rubin, ‘Popular Mobilization and the Myth of State Corporatism’, in Craig and Foweraker, Popular Movements, pp. 247–67. One of Rubin's main points is that popular representation – as conceived by ‘the people’ themselves – did and does not necessarily have to involve multiparty competition.

106 A good example is the discussion of forms of caciquismo, based on the careers of Saturnino Cedillo and Gonzalo N. Santos, by Márquez, Enrique, ‘Gonzalo N Santos o la naturaleza del “tanteómetro político”’, in Assad, Carlos Martínez (ed.), Estadistas, caciquesy caudillos (Mexico, 1988), pp. 385–94Google Scholar.

107 Cf. Fowler Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, p. 160, and Covarrubias, Miguel, El sur de México (Mexico, 1980), pp. 5563Google Scholar.

108 According to Martínez Saldaña, ‘Formatición y transformatión de una oligarquía’, pp. 68–9, Don Flavio lacked ‘any base of popular support’, but was local, skilled in horseriding and shooting, ‘de carácter simpático bondadoso…con un gran do n de gente’, possessed of a network of compadrazgos and a cantina that never closed. His power did not rest solely on coercion or Federal government backing.

109 Buve, ‘State Governors and Peasant Mobilisation in Tlaxcala’, p. 241; Schryer, Frans, The Rancheros of Pisaflores: the History of a Peasant Bourgeoisie in Twentieth–Century Mexico (Toronto, 1980), p. 92Google Scholar.

110 Anguiano Equihua, Lázaro Cárdenas, pp. 40–1; Warman, Arturo, Y venimos a contradecir. Los campesinos de Morelos y el estado nacional (Mexico, 1976), p. 206Google Scholar; Benjamin, Rich Land, Poor People, pp. 202–3.

111 Wilkie, James W, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910 (Berkeley, 1973), pp. 7481Google Scholar.

112 Grindle, Merrilee S., Bureaucrats, Politicians and Peasants in Mexico. A Cast Study in Public Policy (Berkeley, 1977), p. 189Google Scholar.

113 Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution, pp. 36–7.

114 Vice-president Henry Wallace attended Avila Camacho's inauguration, thus sounding the ‘definite death knell of General Juan Andrew Almazán's presidential hopes’ (which were scant already); the Almazanistas demonstrated against Wallace's visit: Rees, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 14, 29 Nov. 1940, FO 371/24217, 4825, 4880.

115 This echoes an argument put forward in Knight, Alan, ‘State Power and Political Stability in Mexico’, in Harvey, Neil (ed.), Mexico: Dilemmas of Transition (London, 1993). PP 2963Google Scholar.

116 Meyer, El sinarquismo, ch. 4.

117 Ibid., ch. 3; Hadow report on Sinarquismo, Washington, 14 Dec. 1944, in FO 371/44478, AN 56.

118 Scott, James C., Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, 1985)Google Scholar.

119 Murray, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 20 June 1935, FO 371/18708, A5546. The British Minister concurred.

120 Knight, ‘The Politics of the Expropriation’: Hamilton, The Limits of State Autonomy, p. 236.

121 Rees, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 9 Feb., 20 Sept. 1940, FO 371/24217, 1654, A4492.

122 Lerner, Victoria, Historia da Revolutión Mexicana. Periodo 1934–40. La educatión sotialista (Mexico, 1979), pp. 175–92Google Scholar; Medin, Ideologia y praxis, p. 219.

123 Bateman, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 15 Jan. 1946, FO 371/51592, AN3382.

124 Saragoza, The Monterrey Elite, pp. 183, 188–9, 193; Hamilton, Limits of State Autonomy, pp. 196–7, 209, 226–7, 235.

125 Saragoza, The Monterrey Elite, p. 189. The revamped official party, the PRM, also remained a somewhat skeletal organisation in Nuevo León: ‘en realidad no existe P.R.M. en el Estado’, as an official of the state regional committee baldly stated to Cárdenas. See Fructoso Rodríguez to Cárdenas, 3 August 1938, AGN/FLC 543.1/35. The same legajo contains a series of complaints from campesino organisations, denouncing the corrupt, conservative regime of Nuevo León Governor Anacleto Guerrero.

126 Benítez, Ki, pp. 120–52.

127 Ronfeldt, David, Ateningo: The Politics of Agrarian Struggle in a Mexican Ejido (Stanford, 1973)Google Scholar.

128 Vaughan, ‘The Implementation of National Policy in the Countryside’ Bateman, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 20 Dec. 1945, FO 371/51586, AN69.

129 Fowler Salamini, Agrarian Radicalism, pp. 131–2, 136–7. Parra's violence, however, would not have been so effective had not the state government (even during the 1930s) adopted an anti-agrarista stance:ibid., p. 131.

130 Buvé, ‘State Governors and Peasant Mobilization in Tlaxcala’. Compare the swingeing criticism of Saturnino Osornio, the cacique of Querétaro, and his violent, corrupt, pseudo-radical henchmen: ‘todos…flamantes socialistas, aunque ningunotiene antecedentes revolucionarios’: José Siurob to Cárdenas, n.d. (1935), AGN/FLC 606.3/49.

131 Armando Ordóñnez, Confederación Campesina y Obrera del Estado de Chiapas, Tuxtla, to Múgica, 7 Sept. 1935, AFM, 106/55; Benjamin, Rich Land, Poor People, pp. 181–91.

132 Aniceto López to Cárdenas, 8 April 1936, AGN/FLC 559.3/25, denounces the ‘odiosa camarilla’; of Sonoran Callistas, that is, ‘nefastos o corrompidos callistas que se hacen pasar por cardenistas disfrazados’. For the full story, see Carlos, Moncada O., ‘El escenario politico de Sonora’, in Assad, Carlos Martínez (ed.), Muncipios en conflicto (Mexico, 1985), pp. 31–5Google Scholar and Bantjes, Adrian, ‘Politics, Class and Culture in Postrevolutionary Mexico: Cardenismo and Sonora, 1929–40’, PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1991Google Scholar.

133 Márquez, ‘Gonzalo N. Santos’. See also the report of Col. Miguel Badillo, Tantoyuca, to Cárdenas, 18 June 1938, AGN/FLC 606.3/206, which describes the lusty survival of Cedillistas among the municipal authorities and local (military] reserves of the region, who ‘se han acogido la protección del Senador Gonzalo N. Santos a quién reconocen como jefe’.

134 González, Pueblo en vilo, p. 186; Martínez Saldaña, ‘Formación y transformación de una oligarquía’, p. 71. Not that Arandas was ever a hotbed of reform: see the report of Miguel Morones of the Vanguardia Cardenista Arandense, 28 Feb. 1938, AGN/DGG 2.311.6(11), caja 253, t. I, on the efforts of the municipal authorities ‘hasta para entorpecer cualquier intento o esfuerzo de que las leyes obreras y agrarias tengan efectividad’.

135 Reports to Múgica from J. Hernández Solís, 2 Jan. 1934; anon., 2 July 1936; anon., Dolores Hidalgo, Gto, 12 Aug. 1935; José Berger, Guadalajara, 10 Oct. 1935; AFM 106/5, 181, 15, 81. Compare also Ignacio Tovar, Cd Victoria, Tamps., to Emilio Portes Gil, 24 April 1936, AGN, Emilio Portes Gil, Archivo Particular, caja 68, exp. 5; José Moreno, Tehuacán, Pue., to Cárdenas, 24 April 1936, AGN/DGG, 2.311.8, caja 35A (‘todavía impera en esta región un reducto del viejo callismo refundido dentro del [partido] laborista’). At the time of Mexico's entry into the Second World War, Manje (still termed a ‘Callista’) was one of the three ranking generals, commanding the Gulf coast zone: Davidson, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 17 Jan. 1944, FO 371/38302, AN 927. Manje was said to have connived not only with the Cristeros (Berger report) but also with hacienda white guards in Jalisco: Jorge Regalado, ‘Los agraristas’, in Laura Patricia Romero (coord.), Jalisco desde la revolución: Movimientos sociales, 1929–40, t. IV (Guadalajara, 1988), pp. 140–1. On the continued influence of the (Callista) Riva Palacio faction in the state of Mexico, see the numerous petitions(c. Jan. 1936) in AGN/DGG 2/311 M (12) 21545, caja 20B

136 Felizardo Frías to Múgica (report on Sonora), 29 Oct. 1935, AGN/FLC, 559.3/25.

137 González, Pueblo en vilo, p. 206, quoting Salvador Novo on the political turnover of 1946. Medina, Luis, Historia de la Revolución Mexicana, Periodo 1940–52. Civilismo y modernización del autoritarismo (Mexico, 1979)Google Scholar, pioneers analysis of this crucial period.

138 Unless 1988 counts.

139 Hamilton, Limits of State Autonomy, ch. 8; Michaels, Albert L., ‘The Crisis of Cardenismo’, journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 2 (1970), pp. 5179CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

140 González, Los días del Presidente Cárdenas, p. 259.

141 Davidson, Mexico City, to Foreign Office, 4 Jan. 1940, FO 371/24217, A813.

142 Memo, of conversation of Fletcher, British Embassy, Washington, and E. D. Ruiz, exconsul-general of Mexico in the US, 5 Aug. 1940, FO 371/24217, 3818.

143 Mosk, Sanford A., Industrial Revolution in Mexico (Berkeley, 1950), p. 58Google Scholar.

144 Niblo, ‘The Impact of War’.

145 Hamilton, Limits of State Autonomy, p. 28;. Similar criticisms have been levelled at the Bolivian revolution.