Prof. Anthony G. Hopkins HIS350L
Mexico’s Oil Nationalization of 1938
The nationalization of oil companies under the presidency of Lazaro Cárdenas is perhaps one of the most widely discussed instances in Mexican history, along with Independence and Revolution. One can see the common theme in these episodes: the explosion of national revolutionary sentiments causing important upheavals in the structures of society. The promises these movements made were seldom realized, but people still remember and regard them as the pillars of the nation. The expression of Nacionalismo Revolucionario remains an integral ethos across Mexican social movements, unions and even politicians. The monumental event of expropiation and nationalization in the 18th of March in 1938 is always remembered as the culmination of these ideals, the revolution and as a prime example of the nation’s anti-imperialist stance.
The expropiation is of great relevance to current events: for the last two decades in Mexico, neoliberal governments have attempted to privatize PEMEX, the state owned oil company, generating staunch opposition from the left and center of the political spectrum. This opposition rejects the foreign ownership of Mexico’s oil, still using the rhetoric of nationalism, the primacy of a nation’s sovereignty and control of its resources for its own benefit. Conservative arguments are that PEMEX is corrupt and inefficient, which are strangely some of the same arguments the left hurled against the oil trusts during the 1930’s. The former are not lying about corruption, which obviously would not disappear with privatization. However this concern does raise some questions. Is this nationalist fervor in defense of an energy resource really a widespread national rallying cause that could exert political pressure, or is it one designed and orchestrated mainly by state elites for their own
Bibliography: Aleman Valdes, Miguel. La Verdad del Petroleo en Mexico. Biblioteca MExicana de la Fundacion Mguel Aleman. Mexico, 2007 Basurto, Jorge Paz Salinas, Maria Emilia. Crisis y Expropiacion, un analisis comparativo: 1938 - 1982. Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1983), pp. 441-451 Published by: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Philip, George Carrillo, Alejandro. Mexican People and the Oil Companies. World Affairs, Vol. 101, No. 3 (September, 1938), pp. 171-178 Bucheli, Marcelo Myrna, Santiago. Rejecting Progress in Paradise. Huastecs, the Environment, and the Oil Industry in Veracruz, Mexico, 1900-1935. Environmental History, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Apr., 1998), pp. 169-188 Cohen, Deborah W. Dirk Raat. US Intelligence Operations and Covert Action in Mexico, 1900-1947. Journal of Contemporary History, Vol Second World War: Part 2 (Oct., 1987), pp. 615-638 Scroggs William O Lloyd Jones Chester. The Good Neighbor Policy and Mexican Relations. World Affairs, Vol. 102, No. 1 (March, 1939), pp. 44-48 Wendell C., Gordon [ 9 ]. Carrillo, Alejandro. Mexican People and the Oil Companies. World Affairs, Vol. 101, No. 3 (September, 1938), pp. 171-178 [ 10 ]