Lazaro Cardenas was born in a village called Jiquiplan in 1985. He was forced to support his family following the death of his father when he was 16 years old. Although he dropped out of school when he was only 11 years old, he educated himself by reading extensively especially on historical works. By the time he was 18, he had worked as a jail keeper, a printer’s devil and a tax collector [ CITATION Och00 \l 1033 ].
Cárdenas joined politics during the Mexican Revolution and in 1928 he was elected governor of Michoacán. In 1932 he was selected to be the presidential candidate of the Party of Mexican Revolution (PRM) which was the ruling party. He won the presidential election of Mexico in 1934 and took office in the same year [ CITATION Fre50 \l 1033 ].
When Cardenas took over office, he implemented several reforms He banned capital punishment which was usually carried out in form of a firing squad. He reduced the salary of the president by half. He moved the official residence of the president from Chapultepec Castle to Los Pinos in order to create a national history museum. In 1938, he nationalized all Mexican petroleum reserves that were controlled by Standard Oil of New Jersey and Royal Dutch Company. He also nationalized other businesses later on such as train companies and factories. He was very vocal in the fight against corruption that even had Calles, the former president, arrested and charged for his corrupt dealings in 1936.
Cardenas attempts to actively assist the Republican government during the Spanish civil war were prevented by the then USA administration under Roosevelt. He however admitted tens of thousands of republican exiles who had ran away from the Spanish fascists in 1939. He gave diplomatic protection to exiles through his envoys and ambassadors in Europe. Cardenas left power in 1940. He left a legacy as one of the few successful socialist government leaders.
Freeman, Clyde Edwards. Lazaro Cardenas. Texas: East Texas State Teachers College, 1950.
Ochoa, Enrique C. Feeding Mexico: The Political Uses of Food Since 1910. illustrated. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.