Portraits of Six Exceptional Twentieth Century Premiers
Chapter 3 The People’s President : Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico (1934–1940) 71
CHAPTER THREE The People’s President: Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico (1934–1940) It is a truism that the reputations of historical figures are subject to considerable swings over time. Few reputations can have f luctuated quite so wildly, and varied so widely, as that of Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico’s president from 1934 to 1940. He has been credited with bringing the Mexican revolution to its pinnacle and culmination. Others say he was the one who ini- tiated that revolution. Then there are the critics who contend that he betrayed that same revolution by setting Mexico firmly on a path to capitalism and authoritarian government. As Adrian Bantjes has noted, ‘confusion reigns: historians have alternately characterized the Cárdenas administration as communist, socialist, social-democratic, liberal, Bona- partist, national reformist, corporatist, authoritarian, and populist’.1 1 Adrian A. Bantjes, ‘Cárdenismo: Interpretations’, in Michael S. Werner (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society and Culture (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997), p. 195. 72 CHAPTER THREE Cárdenas has been mythologized and de-mythologized. According to the myth, states Marjorie Becker, Cárdenas is styled as something of a latter-day Jesus. As a redeemer, he traveled from village to village performing wonders … he listened as campesinos detailed their troubles. Most spectacularly, while Cárdenas multiplied no loaves or fishes, he divided large estates into peasant plots. In response, campesinos crowded around to pay homage to him and his government.2 The myth gained substance in various forms: statues erected; cities, towns, highways, streets in Mexico named...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.