Maximato – Concept, governments, antecedents and consequences

We explain what the Maximato was in Mexico, its antecedents and its consequences. Also, who was Plutarco Elías Calles?

maximato streets
Plutarco Elías Calles was the “Maximum Chief of the Revolution” in Mexico.

What was the Maximato?

It is known as the Maximato al historical and political period of Mexico between 1928 and 1934. It began with the interim government of Emilio Portes Gil and ended when Lázaro Cárdenas assumed the presidency. Its name is due to the political influence exercised by Plutarco Elías Calles (1877-1945), a politician and military man with the informal title of “Maximum Chief of the Revolution.”

Plutarco Elías Calles was a central figure in post-revolutionary Mexican political history, beginning with his formal presidential term between 1924 and 1928. He also had enormous influence on the puppet governments after Álvaro Obregón’s death in 1928.

During this political period, a single state party was created: the National Revolutionary Party or PNR, under the slogan that whoever wanted the presidential chair, “let it be formed”, as Calles himself said, who imposed the rules of the game of the moment.

Thus, the Maximato It is remembered as the government of “a strong man” and as the last of the Mexican caudillista governments.. It was also, paradoxically, a period in which the revolutionary momentum for social change began to wane and diminish, in part due to the global economic crisis of 1929 (known as “The Great Depression”).

However, the modernizing and institutionalizing effects of this period they were an important inheritance for Mexico.

Background of the Maximato

portes maximato
The Maximato began with the interim government of Emilio Portes Gil.

After the revolution, Mexico was torn between different political tendencies, each one with “strong men” of local politics pulling the strings. The most important of them was Álvaro Obregón, a military man who had participated in the Civil War and who was elected president for the period from 1920 to 1924.

As reelection was not possible, as successor he managed to elect his dolphin, Plutarco Elías Calles who ruled between 1924 and 1928. In his government modern national initiatives proliferatedThe Bank of Mexico was created, the road network was expanded, the first national airline was created, the Veterinary Medical School and numerous rural schools were founded.

On the other hand, tensions between the state and the church gave rise to the Cristero War of 1927. Former president Obregón had enormous influence on Calles’ Mexican policies, and promoted a modification of the national constitution to allow a reelection. A) Yes, Álvaro Obregón was reelected in 1928 but could not take office, as he was assassinated in July of that year.

So things, Emilio Portes Gil (1928-1930) assumed the interim government, in which Calles was a fundamental actor, even going so far as to handpick the members of his cabinet.

That was the formal beginning of the Maximato, during which Pascual Ortiz Rubio (1930-1932), who resigned, and Abelardo Rodríguez (1932-1034) as interim president, both governments were subject to the will of Calles as well.

Consequences of the Maximato

The Maximato it was an important industrializing and modernizing force from the country. He openly confronted the privileges of the Catholic Church and proceeded with the distribution of land, agrarian reform and the interconnection of the different corners of Mexico through the road network.

Despite its tendency to centralize power in Calles and in the PNR, the Maximato bequeathed to the republic new institutions that put an end to the traditional caudillato. He left as his inheritance a more urban society, more secular and more actively involved in national politics.

End of the Maximato

Lazaro de Cárdenas maximato
Calles could not manipulate the government of Lázaro Cárdenas.

The Maximato ended in 1934 with the election of Lázaro Cárdenas for the office of president. The new government was less manipulable by Calles, who at that time was suffering from gallbladder disease and had to undergo surgery in the United States.

This trend was formalized in 1935, when Cárdenas requested the resignation of the entire cabinet of Callista affiliation, in a climate of worker confrontations and division in parliament. Finally Calles was expelled from the country by Cárdenas in 1936, initiating an exile in the United States that lasted until 1941, thus robbing him of all political influence in the country.

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