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Sonora Dynasty, The: 1920-1934

The Succession of 1920

It points up the importance of "No Re-elección-Sufragio Efectivo." Carranza was going to violate this principle by imposing his own candidate, Ignacio Bonillas, on the country. This smacked of continuismo a la Porfirio Díaz and Manuel González. Bonillas had a strong connection with the United States. Carranza had no large following of his own. The Sonora clique was stronger. It put Obregón in power for the 1920-24 term. Carranza was killed as he fled north.

Obregón kept peace among revolutionary cliques. Adamantly against implementation of agrarian provisions of constitution because it would hurt production. He negotiated the Bucareli Agreements (1923) over the retroactivity of implementing constitutional provision with regard to alien [read American] property. These were "gentlemen's agreements," not binding treaties. Obregón started out using CROM as a political support but switched to the Agrarian Party led by Díaz Soto y Gama, thus creating competition. Divided his opponents. There was always a lot more talk than action about the Revolution. At times, this talk seemed to be encouraged by the government. Obregón set up National Agrarian Commission, but he had no money. There was corruption in the agrarian reform program. Obregón redistributed about three million acres of land.


Obregón was a strong believer in education. He appointed José Vasconcelos as Secretary of Public Education. Vasconcelos dramatized of education. Started the Cultural Mission program to teach literacy and other basic skills. He promoted nationalism. Vasconcelos was one of Mexico's leading intellectuals. He required the reading of the classics in schools. He was proud of Mexico's Spanish past, but he also wanted Mexicans to be proud.

Plutarco Elías Calles

Boss of Mexico from 1924-1934. He was considered radical when elected but he was more a radical on Church-State issues than on economic questions. It was during his presidency that the Cristero revolt occurred in reaction to his anticlericalism. It, among other things, provoked US resentment. The Church decided to test anti-clerical laws of Constitution. An Interdict was declared by the Church. Got some support but not nearly enough. A lot of lower class people reasonably willing to go to church without priests. Biggest support of Cristeros was in west central Mexico. The cristeros were in alliance with upper class. Obregón was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic in 1928 after having been elected President of Mexico again. Calles made the decision not to take over the presidency. Got a meeting of Mexican leaders together in capital. Said no more caudillos should be running Mexico (though he was). He created the National Revolutionary Party (PNR). The PNR was useful to focus attention on Revolution and end of some of the caudillism. Became a vehicle for reformers. Congress selected Emilio Portes Gil as interim President. Did a very good job.

In the 1929 presidential election, the PNR ran Pascual Ortiz Rubio against Vasconcelos. The official results said that Ortiz Rubio got 1,000,000 votes and Vasconcelos 20,000. Vasconcelos was embittered by this. Thought he had won. The results held in part because the military backed the regime.

Ortiz Rubio resigned on 3 September 1930 at Calles' request. Abelardo L. Rodríguez was put into the presidency and took orders from Calles.