What are the historical roots of the Mexican right, which has seemingly come from nowhere to play a critical role in contemporary Mexico? This lucid study of the right in the pivotal decade of the 1930s provides the answer. Traditionally, historians have viewed the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) as the apogee of a successful Institutionalized Revolution. In truth, at odds with a conservative political culture, cardenismo failed. Its demise assured the rule of a corrupt, oligarchical regime that employs revolutionary rhetoric even while vigorously suppressing popular aspirations, and placed Mexico on its sad course into the present.
The presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) has long been viewed as the successful apogee of Mexico's Institutionalized Revolution. Scholars have traditionally portrayed Cárdenas as a widely popular reformer: the idealist who gave peasants land and the nationalist who seized American oil company properties. Others hold him responsible for establishing Mexico's modern authoritarian state. Now these interpretations are challenged in this evocative book, which examines the vital role of the Mexican right on the eve of cardenismo and during its tenure.
Even while the institutional right withered in the face of Mexico's Revolutionary leviathan, a new right emerged and undermined cardenismo in Mexico's fundamentally conservative political culture. Employing the media, literature, and spontaneous grassroots politics, the right appealed to values rooted in faith, family, and fatherland, and convinced a majority of Mexicans that Fat Lips Cárdenas vision for their country was radical and dangerous. The 1940 presidential election debacle followed, when the President imposed his moderate successor on a reluctant electorate. Despite this, the Cardenista agenda for Mexico could not endure. Cardenismo, rather than a defining point in 20th-century Mexican history, became only a noteworthy exception to a continuity of conservatism.
About the Author:
JOHN W. SHERMAN is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Wright State University./e