thumbnail of Latin American perspectives II; Episode 5 of 38
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Latin America perspectives a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station w s r u FM. Here now is Dr. Gardiner in the A B C's of revolution in Mexico. All before Cardenas are dwarfed by the achievements of President Lazarro Cardenas. True the revolution began in 1910 and for half a decade fighting was the order of the day largely a matter of clearing the old order from the political and economic landscape. Then in 1017 with the writing of the Constitution under which Mexico is presently governed there was a statement of the aggregate philosophy a statement of the aims as well as the
direction of the revolution for the future. Indeed that constitution of 1917 was more a statement of aspirations and hopes than it was of achievements and realities. Beginning with the decade of the 1920s there was a slow motion of institutionalizing the revolution. Act after Act the legal action of the Congress of Mexico brought into at least the legal form the philosophy of the revolution. And then it was in the period 1934 to 40 that the peak achievement the peak momentum of this institutionalization of the revolution took place because those six years 1934 to 1940 represent the term in office of president Cardenas. Today we consider one aspect of that six
year administration. As we turn to the book entitled organized labor and the Mexican revolution under Lazarro Cardenas this is authored by Joe S. Ashby and published by the University of North Carolina Press. The inauguration of Lazaro Cardenas as president of Mexico marked accommodating phase in the revolt of that country against an economic policy based on classical liberalism. International capitalism and colonialism. Cardenas and his followers accepted the postulate of the class struggle as inherent in the capitalist system of production. Although it became evident as economic policy unfolded that they did not mean a battle to the death between the two contesting parties capital and labor in the Marxian sense of the phrase. Rather
they saw the workers as struggling in a society of competing groups and maintained that the function of the modern state was intervention in behalf of labor as the weaker of the two parties. In the view of the philosophy of Cardenas to do otherwise was neither to act equitably nor to promote social justice. According to the pronouncements of his six year plan and the speeches of his wing of the National Party the monopoly party of Mexico the final goal of the policy was to be the socialisation of the means of production although it was not clear whether productive property was to be turned over directly to the workers to own and operate or whether the state was to owned the property to be managed by and for the working class. As a matter of fact both of the EES as well as other solutions became a
part of the economic policy which evolved in the six year period in the first year of the Cardenas government in the year 934 a number of strikes against leading industries such as the Mexican tramways company the Westlake a petroleum company the RAF paper mills and the Mexican telephone company reached such proportions that the wing of the official party dominated by ex-president Collier issued through a public declaration by ex-president himself a strong protest against the labor movement being fostered by the new and young president Cardenas. When Cardenas replied to this challenge of the older ex-president he made it abundantly clear that the policy of his administration would be to support organized labor in its efforts to improve the living conditions of the Mexican
masses. And he urged the workers to unite into one great organization from this moment on that labor movement was wedded to Cardenas and he in turn to the labor movement. Cardenas and labor supported each other. But the government kept always the upper hand. This you will notice is evident in the very title of the book organized labor under Lazarro Cardenas. And it does not simply mean in reference to the time period of Cardenas. It is the relationship of the power of the president above that of labor. Soon after the break between President Cardenas and his mentor ex president called us a labor management conflict in the industrial center of Monterrey. Having its dispute based in a glass factory gave rise to a moment when the president finding it a
serious affair intervened personally in the conflict thereby setting a precedent that was to be followed many times afterward. In a now famous Monterey speech Cardenas insisted once more upon the complete and voluntary unification of the workers into a grand body of labor with which the government would deal to the exclusion of other minority worker groups. The president in fact introduced 14 points which he considered to be the basis of his labor philosophy and policy. I would mention but two of those points. One his belief that once in unions workers should bargain collectively with employers until all workers are covered by collective contracts. And the second point I would mention was cognisance insistence that wages should be based upon the economic capacity of the companies to pay. About the
time of that Monterrey episode in which he had intervened a Congress for the unification of the labor movement was held in Mexico City and the outcome was the formation of the so-called C M initials which were taken from the three words that compose this mch Mexican confederation of workers. This was primarily industrial in its structure and the outstanding figures organizing it were this senti Lombardo Tolly Donnel a first rate intellectual and a veteran Labor leader and one the heiress head of the powerful Railroad Workers Union. Although the organisation was composed of unions of markedly different strength philosophy tactics etc. it did reflect this new CTM in general. The qualities of its foremost leader Lombardo.
The organisation claimed to embrace no single social economic philosophy but merely to be a popular front of labor unions. The CTM containing perhaps eight million workers became the dominant Labor body of the card in this era. But even if it was not allowed to organize and attach the peasant organizations to it. Well it follows that in the remaining period one thousand thirty six to forty the organized labor movement of Mexico grew rapidly and its influence in national affairs became apparent when capital labor disputes arose as they did in many basic industries about collective agreements. The agreements were usually accomplished only after the intervention of the National Department of Labor and the rendering of decisions through arbitral Awards which incidentally were generally in favor of labor. Three very
notable cases arose one involving the National Railways Company another land holdings in the Laguna district of northern Mexico and a third related to the foreign owned oil properties. These labor disputes culminated in serious strikes and in all instances there was expropriation and nationalization of property to a greater or lesser degree by the government in the interests of labor. We have in the thirties by way of parallel as much of an opportunity for this liberal economic outlook on the part of the cardless administration as we find to be the case because of parallel conditions and outlook in the United States at the same time. For one thing there was a measure of economic depression general in both countries that suggested that experimentation is in order that a dignified cation and strengthening of the labor
movement is in order. There was likewise in the outlook of Franklin Delano Roosevelt then president here. A good neighbor outlook which suggested a hands off be allowed the finer Mexican or otherwise to take care of his own affairs. And so in this framework of liberal outlook by Cardenas Plus a liberal outlook by Franklin Delano Roosevelt there is a capacity for moving ahead. And so Mexico now using the economy as a summit dropped out before but none had as yet realized the nature of Mexican union leadership. In the 1980s. It was such as to find most men Lombardo told Adonal for example coming from call it the intelligentsia men who were trained at law men who were trained in economics men who had not wielded
shovels or picks men who had not handle screwdrivers and pliers. In fact if one looks into the union history of Mexico to date to the labor movement it is in vain that you look in the thirties for a John L. Lewis a man who with shovel and pick had worked his way up from minor to head of mining union. And even today in the 1950s one looks in vain for a Walter Ruther a man who has again from a screwdriver and wrench worked his way up to had a powerful union. One wonders then in turn how closely related these men can be to the realities of Labour's needs since they do not come from Labor. They are theoreticians. They offer lots of fares. They are essentially outsiders. But this does not mean that they cannot give competent leadership. But one wonders if there is not to be a new breed
of Mexican leadership come along. In the 1930's However the initial opportunities for generating any formulation of the labor movement were aided by then President Cardenas. It's interesting to note that the president who initiated this liberal movement for labor in Mexico is still alive and a powerful figure and a powerful union leader Lombardo told me Donald is still alive. There has been a certain continuity then in the work of these men. It's evident in the history of organized labor and the Mexican revolution under Lazarro Cardenas published by the University of North Carolina Press. This was another program in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program when Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 5 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-th8bmm53).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3544. This prog.: Organized Labor and the Mexican Revolution Under Lazaro Cardenas
Global Affairs
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-3-15 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:13
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 5 of 38,” 1968-03-11, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 5 of 38.” 1968-03-11. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives II; Episode 5 of 38. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from