President of MexicoDied when: 75 years 151 days (904 months)
Star Sign: Gemini
Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlasaɾo ˈkaɾðenas]; 21 May 1895 – 19 October 1970) was a Mexican army officer and politician who served as president of Mexico from 1934 to 1940.
Born in Jiquilpan, Michoacán, to a working-class family, Cárdenas joined the Mexican Revolution and became a general in the Constitutionalist Army.
Although he was not from the state of Sonora, whose revolutionary generals dominated Mexican politics in the 1920s, Cárdenas was hand-picked by Plutarco Elías Calles, Sonoran general and former president of Mexico, as a presidential candidate and won in the 1934 general election.
After founding the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) in the wake of the assassination of president-elect Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles had unofficially remained in power during the Maximato (1928–1934) and expected to maintain that role when Cárdenas took office.
Cárdenas, however, out-maneuvered him politically and forced Calles into exile.He established the structure of the National Revolutionary Party, eventually renamed the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM), on the sectoral representation of peasant leagues, labor union confederations, and the Mexican Army.
Cárdenas's incorporation of the army into the party structure was a deliberate move to diminish the power of the military and prevent their intervention in politics through coups d'état.
A left-wing economic nationalist, Cárdenas led the expropriation of the Mexican oil industry and the creation of the state-owned oil company Pemex in 1938.
He implemented large-scale land reform programs in Mexico, redistributing large estates to smallholders in lands termed ejidos.He created the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and El Colegio de México (Colmex).
His foreign policy supported and gave asylum to Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.An achievement of Cárdenas was his complete surrender of power in December 1940 to his successor, Manuel Ávila Camacho, who was a political moderate without a distinguished military record.
Cárdenas has been praised as "the greatest constructive radical of the Mexican Revolution", for implementing its ideals, but has also been criticized as an "authoritarian populist." He was the first Mexican president to serve for a sexenio, a practice that continues today.
According to numerous opinion polls and analysts, Cárdenas is the most popular Mexican president of the 20th century.