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Lázaro Cárdenas


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(b. 21 May 1895, d. 19 Oct. 1970).

President of Mexico 1934–40 A general in the Mexican army, he was instrumental in the foundation (with Calles) of the National Revolutionary Party (Partido Nacional Revolucionario, PNR), which became the dominant political party linking the political establishment with the popular masses. Upon becoming President he immediately showed that he was to be his own man through sending into exile the hitherto predominant personality in Mexican politics, Calles. He proceeded to realize many of the more radical aspirations of the 1917 constitution, particularly through distributing twice as much land as all his predecessors combined since 1917. A subsequent decline in productivity notwithstanding, this measure gained him enormous popularity. This was enhanced when in 1938 he nationalized the largely US‐owned oil refineries, in response to their refusal to comply with an order of the Mexican Supreme Court for them to pay better wages to Mexican workers. Cárdenas reformed the PNR into the Mexican Revolutionary Party (Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, PRM) in 1938, which subsequently consisted of four sectors representing peasants, labour, the military, and the middle classes. After his term in office he continued to be a popular and influential figure in Mexican politics, and was Minister for National Defence, 1943–5.PRI


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