Notes on Manuel Avila Camacho and Miguel Alemán, 1940-1946
Manuel Avila Camacho (1940-46)
From Puebla. General in the Revolution. He was known as "The Gentleman
President." During the 1940 presidential election, when asked about his views of the
Church-State conflict, he stated "Soy Creyente, " (I am a believer), thus
pacifying some Catholic opponents. His opposition from the right was General Juan
Andreu Almazán and from the left, Francisco Múgica. The Partido Acción Nacional
(PAN), formed in 1939, had no candidate but many of its members supported Almazán.
The quasi-fascist movement, Sinarquismo, was of great concern to liberal and conservative
politicians, in part because of the mystery surrounding it, but it did not play an
important role in the election, which was a foregone conclusion.
During his presidency, 12 million acres of land was redistributed.
He reduced the constitutional demand for "socialist education" by appointing a
conservative as Secretary of Education. Before his term ended, Article 3 requiring that
education be "socialist" was amended to change "socialist" to
scientific. Fidel Velásquez, with the support of the Avila Camacho administration,
became head of the Confederación de Trabajadoes Mexicanos, the nation's largest union.
Velásquez wsas not as radical as the former leader, Vicente Lombardo Toledano. The
Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS) was created in 1943. In World War II, Mexico
was pro-Allied. In December, 1941, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the Axis. In
1942, German submarines torpedoed two Mexican oil tankers. War declared. In September,
1942, Avila Camacho called together all the ex-presidents and dislayed them on a balcony
of the National Palace to demonstrate unity. He brought ex-president Lázaro Cárdenas
into his government as Secretary of War. Secretary of Government Miguel Alemán was
charged with preventing subversion. Mexico cooperated extensively weith the ion with US.
It sent a fighter squadron to the Pacific; rearranged its economy to produce for the war
effort; and agreed to the bracero program, the sending Of workers to the US.
The government launched it import substitution plan, protecting
Mexican enterprises against foreign ones with the goals of substituted domestic
manufactures for imports. Nacional Financiera, the development bank, was established
in 1933. A new charter in 1940 gave it the power to regulate national securities market in
addition to making loans.
In 1942, the Confederación Nacional de Industrias de
Transformación (CNIT) was created; it represented the "new" manufacturers, many
of which were created because of the war.
In 1944, a law was passed to require that the majority of the
capital in mixed-enterprise firms be Mexican.
National income in 1940was 6.4 billion pesosand rose by 1945 to 18.6
In 1946, the Partido Revolucionario Instituicional was created from
the Partido de la revolución Mexicana, representing a shift in emphasis. The revolution
was now considered permanent.
In the 1946 elections, Ezequiel Padilla, a former cabinet
official "lost" to Miguel Alemán. The PAN elected its first deputies
Miguel Alemán, 1946-52
He was conservative and pro-business. His regime was noted for its
corruption. The military budget was reduced to less than 10% of total. By 1952, about 7%
of the budget was being spent for public works such as the Morelos dam on the Colorado
river, the Falcón in the lower Rio Gande valley, on modernizing the railway system,
paving roads from Mexico City to Alcapulco and the Pan-American highway. Completed
paved roads increased from 2,500 miles to 10,000 miles by 1952. Tremendous expansion
of electricity. The oil monopoly, PEMEX, expanded. Bought Gulf Oil's Mexican holdings. The
government used cheap electricty and low taxes to further economic development. Alemán
built the Ciudad Universitaria for the national university south of Mexico City.