Cárdenas, Lázaro

Cárdenas, Lázaro

Cárdenas, Lázaro (läˈsärō) (kärˈdānäs), 1895–1970, president of Mexico (1934–40). He joined the revolutionary forces in 1913 and rose to become a general. He was governor (1928–32) of his native state, Michoacán, and held other political posts before he was, with the support of Plutarco E. Calles, elected president. After a bitter conflict Cárdenas sent (1936) Calles into exile and organized a vigorous campaign of socialization of industry and agriculture based on the constitution of 1917. Large landholdings were broken up and distributed to small farmers on the ejido system, and many foreign-owned properties, especially oil fields, were expropriated. Cárdenas, determined to make Mexico a modern democracy, became anathema to large landowners, industrialists, and foreign investors, but—himself a mestizo—became a hero to native peoples and the Mexican working classes. He relinquished his office at the end of his term, acting in accord with his desire for democratic and orderly constitutional processes. Cárdenas was recalled to public service as minister of national defense (1942–45). His political influence as the leader of the Mexican left continued in the years after World War II.


See biography by W. Townsend (2d ed. 1979); study by J. C. Ashby (1967).

His son Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano (ko͞o-outāˈmôk, sōlôrˈsänō), 1934–, seen since the 1980s as his father's political heir, held posts within the ruling Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) before 1988, when he formed the leftist Democratic Revolutionary party (PRD) in opposition. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988 (when he lost as a result of vote fraud) and 1994, but in 1997 he became the first elected mayor of Mexico City. He resigned in 1999 to make a third attempt at winning the Mexican presidency, running on a leftist nationalist platform that opposed free trade. Cárdenas lost to Vicente Fox Quesada in the elections of July, 2000.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cárdenas, Lázaro


(full name, Lázaro Cárdenas y del Río). Born May 21, 1895, in the state of Michoacán; died Oct. 19, 1970, in Mexico City. Statesman and military and political figure of Mexico.

The son of an artisan weaver, Cárdenas in 1913 became involved in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–17. In 1928 he received the rank of division general. From 1928 to 1932 he was governor of Michoacan. He became minister of the interior in 1931 and minister of war in 1933. From 1934 to 1940, Cardenas was the president of Mexico. He opposed the predominance of British and American capital in the country. During his tenure, railroads (1937) and petroleum enterprises (1938) belonging to foreign companies were partially nationalized. Cardenas initiated an agrarian reform and fought against the interference of the Catholic Church in the political life of the country. The peasant and labor union movements were developed, and progressive organizations, including the Communist Party, became very active while he was in office. From 1943 to 1945 he was minister of national defense. After 1949 he was active in the peace movement. He was a laureate of the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Between Nations (1955). In 1969 he became honorary president of the World Peace Council.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.