In 1926, an armed conflict in the form of a popular uprising broke out
against the anti-Catholic\anti-clerical Mexican government, set off
specifically by the anti-clerical provisions of the Mexican
Constitution of 1917. Discontent over the provisions had been
simmering for years. The conflict is known as the Cristero War. A
number of articles of the 1917 Constitution were at issue: a) Article
5 (outlawing monastic religious orders); b) Article 24 (forbidding
public worship outside of church buildings); and c) Article 27
(restricting religious organizations' rights to own property).
Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of the clergy:
priests and religious leaders were prevented from wearing their
habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to
comment on public affairs in the press.

The Cristero War was eventually resolved diplomatically, largely with
the help of the U.S. Ambassador, Dwight Whitney Morrow. The conflict
claimed 90,000 lives: 56,882 on the federal side, 30,000 Cristeros,
and civilians and Cristeros killed in anticlerical raids after the
war's end. As promised in the diplomatic resolution, the laws
considered offensive by the Cristeros remained on the books, but the
federal government made no organized attempt to enforce them.
Nonetheless, persecution of Catholic priests continued in several
localities, fueled by local officials' interpretation of the law.

Mexico’s First Socialist President

Lázaro Cárdenas was born on 21 May 1895 in a lower-middle class family
in the village of Jiquilpan, Michoacán. He supported his family
(including his mother and seven younger siblings) from age 16 after
the death of his father. By the age of 18 he had worked as a tax
collector, a printer's devil, and a jailkeeper. Although he left
school at the age of eleven, he used every opportunity to educate
himself and read widely throughout his life, especially works of
Cárdenas set his sights on becoming a teacher, but was drawn into
politics and the military during the Mexican Revolution after
Victoriano Huerta overthrew President Francisco Madero. He backed
Plutarco Elías Calles, and after Calles became president, Cárdenas
became governor of Michoacán in 1928. During his four years as
governor, Cárdenas initiated a modest re-distribution of land at the
state level, encouraged the growth of peasant and labour
organisations, and made improvements to education at a time when it
was neglected by the federal government. Cárdenas ensured that
teachers were paid on time, made personal inspections of many
classrooms, and opened a hundred new rural schools. His grassroots
style of governing was such that during his time as governor, Cárdenas
made important policy decisions based on direct information received
from the public rather than on the advice of his confidants.

Calles continued to dominate Mexico after his presidency with
administrations that were his puppets. After having two of his hand-
picked men put into the position, the PNR balked at his first choice,
Manuel Pérez Treviño, in 1932. Instead they selected Cárdenas to be
the ruling party's presidential candidate, and Calles went along with
it, thinking he could control him as he had the previous two. This
however, was not so. Cárdenas's first move once he took office late in
1934 was to have his presidential salary cut in half. Even more
surprising moves would follow. After establishing himself in the
presidency, Cárdenas and the Mexican Congress turned on Calles and
condemned his continued war-like persecution of the Catholic Church.
In 1936, Cárdenas had Calles and twenty of his corrupt associates
arrested and deported to the United States, a decision that was
greeted with great enthusiasm by the majority of the Mexican public.
During the course of his presidency, Cardenas became known for his
progressive program of building roads and schools and promoting
education, with twice as much federal money allocated to rural
education than all his predecessors combined. He also promoted land
reform and social security.

The Cause Mexican U.S. Immigration for Economic Reasons

Also central to Cárdenas's project were nationalistic economic
policies involving Mexico's vast oil production, which had soared
following strikes in 1910 in the area known as the "Golden Lane," near
Tampico, and which made Mexico the world's second-largest oil producer
by 1921, supplying approximately 20 percent of domestic demand in the
United States.

Cárdenas's efforts to negotiate with Mexican Eagle, in the managerial
control of Royal Dutch/Shell and Standard Oil of New Jersey, were
unavailing, and the companies rejected a solution proposed by a
presidential commission. So at 9:45 pm on the evening of 18 March
1938, Cárdenas nationalized Mexico's petroleum reserves and
expropriated the equipment of the foreign oil companies in Mexico. The
announcement inspired a spontaneous six-hour parade in Mexico City; it
was followed by a national fund-raising campaign to compensate the

Even though compensation for the expropriated assets was included in
this legislation, the act angered the international business community
and vexed Western governments, especially the United Kingdom. The
government was more worried about the lack of the technical knowledge
required to run the refineries. Before leaving, the oil companies had
made sure they did not leave behind anything of value to the Mexican
government, hoping to force Cárdenas to accept their conditions.
Although Mexico was eventually able to restart the oilfields and
refineries, production did not rise to pre-takeover levels until after
the entry of the United States into World War II, when technical
advisers were sent by the United States as part of the over-all Allied
war effort.

The British severed diplomatic relations with Cárdenas's government,
and Mexican oil and other goods were boycotted, despite an
international ruling in favor of Mexico's government. However, with
the outbreak of World War II, oil became a highly sought-after
commodity. Mexico began to export oil to Nazi Germany and Fascist

The company that Cárdenas founded, Petróleos Mexicanos (or Pemex),
would later be a model for other nations seeking greater control over
their own oil and natural gas resources and, 70 years later, it
remains the most important source of income for the country, despite
weakening finances. Seeing the need to assure the technical expertise
needed to run it, Cárdenas founded the National Polytechnic Institute.

During the 1970s, the administrations of Echeverría and López
Portillo, tried to include social development in their policies, an
effort that entailed more public spending. With the discovery of vast
oil fields in a time in which oil prices were surging and
international interest rates were low -and even negative- the
government decided to borrow from international capital markets to
invest in the state-owned oil company, which in turn seemed to provide
a long-run income source to promote social welfare. In fact, this
method produced a remarkable growth in public expenditure, and
president López Portillo announced that the time had come to "manage
prosperity" as Mexico multiplied its oil production to become the
world's fourth largest exporter.

In the period of 1981–1982 the international panorama changed
abruptly: oil prices plunged and interest rates rose. In 1982,
president López Portillo, just before ending his administration,
suspended payments of foreign debt, devalued the peso and nationalized
the banking system, along with many other industries that were
severely affected by the crisis, among them the steel industry. While
import substitution had been in use during an era of
industrialization, by the 1980s it was evident that the protracted
protection had produced an uncompetitive industrial sector with low
productivity gains.

President de la Madrid was the first of a series of presidents that
began to implement neoliberal reforms. After the crisis of 1982,
lenders were unwilling to return to Mexico and, in order to keep the
current account in balance, the government resorted to currency
devaluations, which in turn sparked unprecedented inflation, which
reached a historic high in 1987 at 159.7%.

Poverty and income disparity has been a persistent problem in Mexico,
and while the recent exponential growth of the economy has caused an
overall fall in the percentage of the population living in conditions
of poverty, this fall has not been proportional to the general growth.
Currently 17% of the population lives below Mexico's own poverty line,
making Mexico rank behind Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Thailand. The
overall poverty rate however is 44.2%, while a full 70% lack one of
the 8 economic indicators used to define poverty by the Mexican
government. From the late 1990s, the majority of the population has
been part of the growing middle class. But from 2004 to 2008 the
portion of the population who received less than half of the median
income has risen from 17% to 21% and the absolute levels of poverty
have risen considerably from 2006 to 2010, with a rise in persons
living in extreme or moderate poverty rising from 35 to 46% (52
million persons). This is also reflected by the fact that infant
mortality in Mexico is three times higher than the OECD average, and
literacy levels are in the median range of OECD nations.

MEXICO: Socialism: Mortal Sin
Monday, Jan. 27, 1936
Time Magazine

Of importance in Mexican politics was a grave pronouncement at Mexico
City last week in which the Catholic Church reviewed and re-emphasized
its abhorrence of what the Church defines as Socialism.

"Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons," began last week's Pastoral
Letter, signed by Archbishop Pascual Diaz and all Catholic archbishops
and bishops in Mexico. Its point: "No Catholic can be a Socialist,
understanding by socialism the philosophical, economic or social
system which, in one form or another, does not recognize the rights of
God and the Church, nor the natural right of every man to possess the
goods he has acquired by his work or has inherited legitimately, or
which foments hatred and the unjust struggle of classes."

The Pastoral Letter challenges flatly the Act of 1934 making
compulsory throughout Mexico education of a Socialist type, including
explanation by grade school teachers of the care and use of sexual
organs. Against this, in the case of young children, the abhorrence of
the Church is maximum. Further, last week's Pastoral Letter explicitly
declared that for a Catholic to be a Socialist, or study or teach
Socialism, or cooperate to Socialist ends, or even for appearance's
sake to feign to approve Socialism, is to commit a "mortal sin."

With President Lazaro Cardenas and the Socialist Mexican Cabinet
evidently in mind, the Archbishops & Bishops closed with a prayer
beseeching Jesus Christ "to illuminate those who have the grave
responsibility of watching over the welfare of the nation, so that,
leaving the path of error which leads only to degradation and misery,
they may give the true guarantees and liberties which we need to
achieve the peace, tranquillity, culture and prosperity of our beloved