Cardenas Compromised is a political and institutional history of Mexico's urban and rural labor in the Yucatan region during the regime of Lazaro Cardenas from 1934 to 1940. Drawing on archival materials, both official and popular, Fallaw combines narrative, individual case studies, and focused political analysis to reexamine and dispel long-cherished beliefs about the Cardenista era.
For historical, geographical, and ethnic reasons, Yucatan was the center of large-scale land reform after the Mexican Revolution. A long-standing revolutionary tradition, combined with a harsh division between a powerful white minority and a poor, Maya-speaking majority, made the region the perfect site for Cardenas to experiment by launching an ambitious top-down project to mobilize the rural poor along ethnic and class lines. The regime encouraged rural peasants to form collectives, hacienda workers to unionize, and urban laborers to strike. It also attempted to mobilize young people and women, to challenge Yucatan's traditional, patriarchal social structure, to reach out to Mayan communities, and to democratize the political process. Although the project ultimately failed, political dialogue over Cardenas's efforts continues. Rejecting both revisionist (anti-Cardenas) and neopopulist (pro-Cardenas) interpretations, Fallaw overturns the notion that the state allowed no room for the agency of local actors. By focusing on historical connections across class, political, and regional lines, Fallaw transforms ideas on Cardenismo that have long been accepted not only in Yucatan but throughout Mexico.
This book will appeal to scholars of Mexican history and of Latin American state formation, as well as to sociologists and political scientists interested in modern Mexico.