As exemplified in a popular title 'the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1940,' many works have claimed that after 1940, the pivotal year, the institutionalized Revolution began to change its preceding radical orientation. By contrast, this article intends to ...
As exemplified in a popular title 'the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1940,' many works have claimed that after 1940, the pivotal year, the institutionalized Revolution began to change its preceding radical orientation. By contrast, this article intends to explore coherent trends of reinforcing one-party rule that passed through the period between the late 1930s and the early 1940s, a more moderate and consolidating phase of Cardenas' decade.
This article shows how Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy affected the Latin American country's internal affairs by paying special attention to the Mexican expropriation policy of foreign oil wells and companies in March 1938. By 1919 Mexico was the world's second largest producer of petroleum. American, British, and French companies had all contributed huge amounts of capital to the effort of developing Mexican oil fields. The multinational oil enterprises that operated in Mexico soon came under severe criticism for their treatment of workers and their failure to adhere to Mexican laws and pay some Mexican taxes. In general, the workers were considered grossly underpaid, precipitating a large number of strikes in the early parts of the century. By the 1930s, the situation had reached a point of crisis. The government could no longer deal with the two unwavering sides of the labor issue. On March 18, 1938, the Mexican President Cardenas issued a decree that effectively nationalized the entire domestic petroleum industry. Despite the central issue of wages, the newly formed Mexican National Oil Company, Pemex was forced to lower wages across the board in the years following the confiscation.
Good Neighbor policy became intimately involved with the wartime situation especially after summer of 1939. Because of its geographical proximity, vast natural resources, and a lack of appropriate protection of unguarded shores, unprotected oil fields and mines, Mexico became a main strategic concern for the U.S. defense project. It was plausible that the war would have a more direct impact on Mexico than on any other Latin American country. From the U.S. perspective, this possibility was very significant for several reasons: Mexico shared southern border with the U.S.; Mexico was the second largest Latin American country in population; Mexico had more questions at issue with the U.S. than any of others, especially culminated in oil expropriation dispute; finally other Latin American countries considered the U.S. approach toward Mexico as a yardstick of the reliability of the Good Neighbor policy.
In addition, Mexico had a historical precedence of being victimized by the French invasion in 1861 and was the center of German espionage in Western Hemisphere during the World War I.
The Cardenas regime was able to strengthen at least symbolically the economic independence by means of the expropriation of oil industry that was formerly controlled by foreign companies and took advantage of the wartime situation to avoid overall boycott of the Mexican oil products before the end of his and Roosevelt's presidential term.
Before the Japanese sudden attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, economic cooperation became a more important issue and the Mexican oil crisis seemed to be unravelled. In sum, Cardenas skillfully took advantage of the wartime situation to avoid overall boycott of the Mexican oil products after the expropriation.