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Lazaro Cardenas del Rio

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Lazaro Cardenas del Rio (May 21, 1895 - October 19, 1970) was President of Mexico from 1934 to 1940.

Lazaro Cardenas was born in a lower-middle class family in the village of Jiquilpan, Michoacán. He supported his family (including his mother and 7 younger siblings) from age 16 on after the death of his father. He worked in a printing shop; although he had little formal education he used every opportunity to educate himself.

Cardenas originally set his sights at 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 Elias Calles[?], and after Calles became President, Cardenas became governor of Michoacan in 1928. He became known for his progressive program of building roads and schools and the unusual strict honesty of his administration.

Calles continued to dominate Mexico after his presidency with administrations which were his puppets. He selected Cardenas to be the PRI candidate for presidency with the assumption that he could control Cardenas as he had controled others. Cardenas' first move once in office was to have his presidential salary cut in half. Even more surprising moves would follow. After establishing himself in the presidency, Cardenas had Calles and dozens of his corrupt associates arrested or deported to the United States, which was greeted with great enthusiasm by the majority of the public.

In 1938 Cardenas nationalized Mexico's petroleum reserves and expropriated the equiptment of the foreign oil companies in Mexico. Even though compensation for the expropriated assests was included in this legislation, this move aroused considerable hostility in the international business community and foreign governments, and Mexican oil and other goods were boycotted. However as World War II started petroeum became a more sought after commodity and the boycott ended.

After his term of presidency ended he served as Mexico's Secretary of Defense through 1945.

It is often said that Cardenas was the only one of Mexico's PRI Presidents who did not use the office to make himself wealthy. He retired to a modest home by Lake Pátzcuaro[?] and worked the rest of his life supervising irrigation projects and promoting free medical clinics and education for the nation's poor.

Lazaro Cardenas died of cancer in Mexico City. His son Cuauhtemoc Cardenas is a prominent Mexican politician.

see also: History of Mexico

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