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Book Excerpt Mexico Before the World

In 1927, President Calles delivered this address to the 32nd Mexican Congress outlining the progress and political platforms supported by the Executive branch during his presidency.

Extracts from President Calles' Message to the Mexican Congress

 

OPENING OF THE SECOND PERIOD OF THE XXXII SESSION, SEPTEMBER 1, 1927

Senators and Deputies: The requirements of Article 69 of the Constitution bring me again before you for the purpose of rendering an account of the administrative work of the Federal Executive during the period from September 1, 1926, to August 31 of the current year. In the exacting labor of the executive office under my charge during the third year of my administration there have not been lacking grave difficulties and serious obstacles which have been created or sustained with the object of impeding or destroying the political programme which, when I was a candidate for President, I caused to be made a matter of general public knowledge. But I am able to state with satisfaction that in the battle which we are fighting for the realization of the national aspirations it has been possible for me to maintain firmly my obligation to serve the great and sacred interests of the country and to count with the approval of a public opinion fully imbued with the anxiety for reform which stirs the consciences of the Mexican people and which controls the actions and dispositions of a government which is inspired and elevated by the praiseworthy intention of procuring the general betterment of the country.

In the Diario Oficial of January 18 of the present year there was published the law regulating Article 130 of the Constitution, relating to acts of religious worship. This law, which was enacted by the present Congress upon the initiative of the Executive, went no further than to confirm and regulate the precepts of the said Article 130.

Strict compliance with the law has been enforced by the Minister of Gobernacion. It may be said that the religious conflict, caused by the rebellion of the clergy, has now practically ended, inasmuch as all the laws, orders and regulations of the Ministry of Gobernacion have been made effective, notwithstanding the vain resistance of the Catholic clergy, which merely served the purpose of providing a patent demonstration that the Mexican people, indifferent to the suspension of worship by the Church authorities, have pronounced their verdict in condemnation of the conduct of those who rebelled against the institutions of the Republic.

According as such applications were made by Federal, state and local officials for the use of buildings held by the clergy, various of these edifices have been utilized for public purposes, in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution.

Permission to exercise their profession has been given to all clergymen and members of religious bodies who have subjected themselves to the laws.

In general, it may be said that the Church situation as it existed at the end of last year and the commencement of the present year has almost ceased to prevail. This does not signify that the government is not still disposed at any moment to suffocate any rebellious movement against, or public repudiation of, the laws relating to religious affairs.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

The campaign for the election of the next President has begun earlier than usual, and since last July three distinct candidates have been conducting their canvasses. Until the present the campaign has been conducted in an orderly manner without serious incidents. The federal government expects that this condition will prevail for the remainder of the campaign and provide a demonstration of the progress made by the Mexican people in the development of civic consciousness and the ability to conduct their elections peacefully. On this subject the federal government can only say that it is firmly resolved to impede any attempts which may be made to create disorders because of the election, at the same time declaring its intention of maintaining complete neutrality and impartiality in the contest and causing to be respected absolutely the popular will.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Contrary aspects in recent months have marked the international relations of Mexico. Some of them provide most flattering evidence of the fruits of our carefully cultivated friendship with various nations while others reveal the existence of menacing crises created by the jealous defense of our great national interests, consonant with the social evolution of the country.

Thus, for example, the traditional pure and noble family ties which unite us with the Latin American nations have not for an instant relaxed, because of the fact that these countries more and more comprehend the analogy which exists between their mutual problems and by experience have grown to appreciate the importance of their own necessities. United by the constant battle to reaffirm the sovereign rights which are theirs as free peoples, each day and with more firmness they realize the desirability of creating a cordial understanding which should bind us together in prosperity and in adversity. Mexico, whose international personality on this continent serves the purpose of a faithful barometer for the observation of social problems, sustains this difficult and dangerous role with steadfast firmness, and without the basis of military and financial power to supply it with material force, employing only its own spirit, encouraged by the inherent right possessed by sovereign nations and strengthened by the national demand for democracy, liberty and justice.

Fortified in its own convictions of right, Mexico has rejected, does reject and I have faith that she always will reject any attempt at employing aggressive measures for the maintenance of good relations with her neighbors. But at the same time I will not admit that, for the sake of maintaining these good relations, she will submit herself to improper standards, subversive of the national dignity, or grant privileges which are opposed to the interests of the Republic. We accept, and even desire, the cooperation of all foreigners, but this cooperation must be extended in harmony with the citizens of Mexico, who are the indisputable owners of their own country. We will deliver to friends and foreigners the hospitality of the nation, but without granting them privileges beyond those which our own nationals enjoy. We accept in good faith foreign capital and effort, but under the inflexible condition that the laws which Mexico imposes upon herself are obeyed and respected. These conceptions of justice, of law, of equity, which serve Mexico as constant standards in her relations with other countries, will be sustained by the executive office under my charge as irreproachable precepts which establish and control our international negotiations. If, as unfortunately it has in the past frequently occurred, obstacles are offered to the operation of these principles by material forces with which it is difficult for our country to contend, the national government will continue to deal with them with a serene spirit, with rectitude and with patriotic determination and in the conviction that the future of the country depends upon the outcome of this battle for national rights and that the slightest weakening will defeat the attainment of those most noble ideals which have cost the fatherland so many painful sacrifices.

Despite the above declarations, it is nevertheless not the desire of the Executive to terminate this part of his address without adding that, to speak plainly, the relations with the United States, which are fundamentally important in our national life for obvious reasons based upon proximity and the extensive commercial relations of the two countries, have unfortunately assumed an indeterminate character, which frequently has manifested itself in disagreement and even culminated in controversy. Acts have taken place which are regarded by the Mexican Government as deplorable, inasmuch as they are in opposition to the national sentiment which desires a constant and cordial friendship with that great country, work injury to our commerce and impede our peaceful development. The fundamental difficulties with the Government of the United States, as is well known, are rooted in the application of the laws derived from Article 27 of the Constitution. Although, as to the present the disagreement with the Washington authorities has to do principally with the general aspect of the laws in question, no complaints have been presented to the Mexican Government based upon concrete acts which provide evidence of any aggressions or damages to foreign capital invested in the petroleum industry, the directors of which have been engaged in acts of rebellion against, and disobedience to, the law which it would be impossible for any independent country to tolerate. With respect to the application of the agrarian laws, which also have served the United States Government as grounds of complaint, the situation has at times been difficult, for reasons similar to those mentioned above. This government has offered to consider concrete cases, if presented, equitably and justly and hopes to resolve them according to these principles, at the same time maintaining one of the most valued social conquests which the Mexican nation has attained. I am confident that at the proper time a spirit of good will and a cordial comprehension of our problems will soften the acerbities of this controversy between the two countries, which is still latent, and that this highly important matter will be finally arranged.

FINANCE AND PUBLIC CREDIT

My previous message to the Congress was considerably elaborated, in the part relating to the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, and included the financial data of 1925 and the first months of 1926. In that message I explained the application which was made of the surplus of 1924 and 1925, which reflected a healthy situation which induced the government to establish a policy of immediately utilizing the excess of receipts over expenses. This policy was continued during 1926, in which heavy disbursements and the disturbed economic condition of the country during the final months of the year created a deficit in the budget. During the fiscal period, as well as the current one, large sums were devoted to the construction of highways, important irrigation works, rural schools, etc., etc., without counting the appropriations made for the establishment of the Bank of Agricultural Credit and the banks for the assistance of the tillers of common lands, or the foreign and the interior debt service. Thus we abandoned the custom of regarding the federal income as an element destined merely to cover the routine public services and adopted a system of profitably investing a part of our revenue in works of economic development, considering them as of fundamental and immediate importance for the well-being of the country.

Although we began the previous fiscal year with a balanced budget with receipts estimated at 315,700,000 pesos and expenses at 304,400,000 pesos, of which 63,200,000 pesos were devoted to the service of the public debt, nevertheless during the course of the same year, 1926, the estimates of expenses were increased by 51,400,000 pesos, not all of which was expended. The existence of a deficit is immediately apparent, therefore, which, although it was covered in part by extraordinary receipts which began to come in in July, created obligations amounting to 9,500,000 pesos. As the extraordinary revenues were less than the deficit, the treasury was obliged to delay the payment of various obligations due in order to take care of others which were provided for by the budget. These unpaid obligations accumulated until on December 31 last they amounted to 23,800,000 pesos. On the same date the treasury applied upon this sum 10,000,000 pesos which it had at its command and 2,500,000 pesos, the latter represented by securities pledged with the Bank of Mexico for a loan contracted in 1926. All of the details of this transaction may be found in the report to the Congress by the Minister of Finance.

In its budget for 1927 the Ministry of Finance estimated the probable revenues at 308,000,000 pesos with disbursements at 216,900,000 pesos, plus 70,000,000 pesos for the public debt service. As these estimates did not include sums for works connected with the government's plans for the economic development of the country and as the tentative budgets submitted by various departments were later amplified, the final figure of the budget showed estimated expenses of 326,900,000 pesos, of which 228,800,000 pesos were devoted to the administrative departments of the government, 30,000,000 pesos for irrigation works and roads and 68,100,000 for the public debt service. Under these conditions and in order theoretically to balance the budget, the Finance Minister prepared a supplementary estimate of receipts totaling 334,300,000 pesos, an increase of 26,300,000 pesos.

However, owing to the perturbed economic condition of the country during the last months of 1926 and considering that my administration was entering upon its second two-year period in which there was reason to apprehend difficulties of all natures the government calculated upon a possible reduction in the normal revenues, principally in the supplementary estimates of receipts, inasmuch as this was based upon the creation of new taxes and increases in those already existing. Fears were entertained that the budget plans might be frustrated. Consequently, as a matter of precaution, the Finance Minister placed in operation a system whereby it was rendered possible for him to know in advance the approximate situation of the treasury at the end of each month and on December 31 of this year.

As these figures indicated a probable deficit, owing to the decrease in the anticipated revenues and the necessity of liquidating obligations remaining over from 1926 and covering the heavy charges of the public debt service, the Executive summoned a meeting of the Cabinet at which it was agreed to reduce the personnel and expenses of almost all of the federal departments and postpone the payment of certain items included in the interior and floating debts, with the object of reducing the large deficit which was foreshadowed and which it was impossible to avoid altogether without serious interference with the public services. Through these economies and notwithstanding a decrease of 20,800,000 pesos in the normal receipts and of 5,000,000 pesos in the schedule of supplementary receipts during the first six months of the year, the deficit has been held down to 6,000,000 pesos, without including the unpaid obligations of 1926. Despite the seriousness of the financial situation the government has carried on the necessary military operations, has paid the army regularly and on time, has continued its programme of public improvements, has covered the foreign debt service and punctually paid the salaries of the government employees.

Aside from the above, the Finance Minister calculates that the deficit for the second half of the year will reach 19,000,000 pesos. He reckons that the decrease in the normal revenues for that period will be 10 percent less than originally estimated and that the decrease in the estimated supplementary revenues will be more than ten percent.

It will be seen that the revenues have suffered a very marked reduction, especially those proceeding from taxes and imports, exports and the exploitation of natural resources. On the other hand, it may be said that, as was predicted by the treasury officials, the income tax has become firmly implanted in our fiscal system. The falling off in imports is unquestionably due to the sluggishness of the activities connected with national production, but it also may be charged to a psychological depression in business. The decrease in the exportation and exploitation of natural resources may be attributed directly to the fact that the petroleum companies have lessened their operations, as compared with 1925. The prospect that the revenues from oil will increase are not encouraging. While in 1922 the receipts from the oil industry represent 30 percent of the federal revenues, 19 percent in 1924 and 11 percent in 1926, in the current year they will not reach 8 percent. Possibly this decrease will continue during the next year.

In view of the fact that the collection of the income tax will be better administered, in that the process of handling it will be perfected without decreasing its productivity, and also in the expectation that the business depression may be overcome in response to timely measures to be taken by the government, the Executive will prepare, with proper care, the budget for 1928, to which the administrative activities of the federal departments will be subjected. The budget figures will be set at a minimum, which is fitting in a country of sparse resources, but without abandoning the government's programme of economic development. The government believes it to be sound fiscal policy to omit from these calculations the estimated revenues from the petroleum industry, owing to the uncertainty of their character and considering that the future activities of the industry depend upon circumstances foreign to the action of the government.

It is the intention of the government to cover scrupulously the public debt service so long as the economic capacity of the country does not necessitate that another road be taken. While it is true that the critical state of the treasury has compelled a delay in the payments upon the interior debt, the agreement with the International Bankers Committee has been lived up to. At the beginning of the current year $5,346,422 U.S. was paid in interest upon the foreign debt for the second half of 1926 and $2,674,097 U.S. on the debt of the National Railways for the same period. On account of the interest upon the foreign debt from January to June, 1927, the Committee was paid $5,513,955 U.S., while the corresponding payment upon the railroad debt was postponed in the expectation that the company would be able to cover it directly. It is important to state that, because of the diminution of the petroleum revenues, it was necessary in January last to solicit from the Bankers Committee a loan of $718,811.89 U.S., guaranteed by the Bank of Mexico, to cover the deficiency on interest on the railroad debt for the last half of 1926. In July last another loan was obtained from the Committee, amounting to $2,000,000 U.S., to make up the payment due upon the foreign debt for the first six months of the present year. Inasmuch as this last loan was negotiated at 6 percent and with no security other than the good faith of the government and the credit of the nation, the Executive considers the fact to reflect favorably upon the credit standing of the country abroad.

Certificates without interest have been issued by the federal treasury, to the payment of which $950,000 U.S. has been applied, which represents the cancellation of 4% percent bonds of the Caja de Prestamos amounting to $2,500,000 U.S.

It has been necessary for the government to postpone payment upon a majority of the obligations comprised in the interior debt, especially those owing to the banks. In principle, the banks have agreed that their credits be spread over the budgets from 1928 to 1934 inclusive, which relieves the budget for the present year and enables it to be balanced in 1928. Under this arrangement the heaviest payments are to be made in future years.

 

AGRICULTURE

The work which has been developed by the Executive, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fomento, has been inspired by the elevated conceptions of the precepts of our Constitution, according to which we are obliged to make a just distribution of the natural resources of the country, in order that the best advantage possible may be taken of them to the greatest benefit of the nation.

The initiation of the concrete resolution of the problems which affect the general interests of the nation, according to the principles outlined above, is in accordance with a perfectly defined plan, the fundamental points of which include a new distribution of the land by dividing it among, and restoring it to, the villages; breaking up the large haciendas, colonization, the organization of agricultural production and exportation, rural sanitation, irrigation, rural credits, agricultural education, etc., etc. all points upon the realization of which is founded the hope, in which I firmly confide, of a glorious future for our country.

AGRICULTURAL BANKS

These institutions which were inaugurated in May 1926, in the States of Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacan and Durango have made loans to holders of common property amounting to 552,680 pesos. In connection with these banks there are in operation 253 cooperative societies with 18,700 members who have subscribed to shares of the value of 221,490 pesos. The operations of these banks have been completely successful, to the satisfaction of those who have benefited by the distribution of profits, especially in Mixquiahula, Hidalgo, where the shareholders of the local institution have received 40,000 pesos from the profits of one season's cultivation of crops.

These institutions have freed their subscribers from the iniquitous exploitation of middlemen, to whom formerly they were compelled to resort for loans in anticipation of their crops, which were only granted upon usurious terms. These banks make crop loans to the small farmer at a low rate of interest and provide him with money, implements and seeds, upon the sole condition that they be applied exclusively to the cultivation and cropping of his farm. It should be noted that in almost every case, the farmers in their operations with these banks have completed their transactions with balances in their favor which have been applied to their accounts.

CENTRAL AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS

Only one of these institutions was in operation a year ago, in the State of Guanajuato. Since then three additional schools have been established, one in Hidalgo, the second in Michoacan and the third in Durango. No effort has been omitted to provide these schools with everything necessary for their organization and purposes. They are equipped with competent teaching forces, modern machinery and implements, live stock and selected seeds. Connected with each are experimental farms of 500 hectares of irrigated land. Every school has a library, suitable living accommodations for the students, baths, sport fields, etc. Three additional schools will be opened this year in the States of Chihuahua, Mexico and Puebla.

NATIONAL AGRARIAN COMMISSION

This department has been organized and regulated in the best possible manner. Its personnel has been selected with the object of ridding the department of politics, which seriously interferes with the proper solution of the agrarian problem. The resume of its work follows: It has dealt with 380 court appeals against its decisions and asked for revisions of court judgments in 249 cases. In agrarian matters the State Governors have made decisions in 435 cases and the Federal Executive in 489 cases. Provisional possession of lands has been given to 37,808 families and permanent possession to 80,123 families, the latter involving 1,153,218 hectares. Sixty-two applications have been made for water rights. To the persons interested in these applications, distribution of water has been made to 22, the use of water has been granted to 54, provisional ownership of water has been allowed to 17 and definite ownership to 42. The total volume of water distributed provisionally was 92,211 square meters, definitely 70,102 square meters and by consent 67,306 square meters.

I consider it of interest to inform the Congress that the difficulties caused by the application and regulation of Article 27 of the Constitution, relating to the distribution and restitution of lands and waters, which regulations were promulgated by the Executive on April 22 of this year by virtue of the extraordinary faculties conceded to him, have obliged me to consider the necessity of reforming the law in such a manner that it will not only meet the necessities of the villages, but also to establish and fix the objects and proceedings under the law as to avert the fatal results of prolonged, costly and unnecessary litigation to defeat the upright intentions of the Executive. The unanimous opinion of the field workers also demands legislation more in accordance with the principles established by the fundamental law of the Republic. In accordance, therefore, with the extraordinary facilities given by this Congress to the Executive, I shall proceed to a study of the indispensable reforms to the law of April 23, in conformity with the project which is now before the Agrarian Commission of the Congress.

INDEMNITIES FOR LANDS EXPROPRIATED FOR AGRARIAN PURPOSES

When this department was opened on September 1, 1925, 70 applications for indemnity were presented. The total number received up to July 31 last, was 699, of which 574 were filed by nationals and 125 by foreigners. Eighty of these demands, which covered 48,602 hectares of expropriated property, have been liquidated by the payment of 7,616,300 pesos in bonds of the Public Agrarian Debt.

Various demands have been rejected and others are pending in the courts. Properties numbering 154 have been valued and within a few days 74 additional demands will be liquidated. The notable increase in the work of the department is owing to the fact that the landowners affected have finally become convinced of the serious intention of the government to enforce the law and of its promptness in handling their demands and affording them means of collecting their indemnities.

NATIONAL IRRIGATION COMMISSION

Emphasis must be laid upon the work of the National Irrigation Commission in view of the fact that it is evident that the economic future of pur country, upon which its social, moral and political progress depends, rests principally upon the efficacious agricultural use of our land. This cannot be done without a complete and proper system of irrigation. This Commission has constructed the irrigation reservoirs of Santa Gertrudis, Tamaulipas; Don Martin, upon the Salado River in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon; Rio Mante, Tamaulipas; Guatimaps, Durango; Rio Santiago, Aguascalientes and Tepuxtepec, Michoacan. These works will provide irrigation for approximately 190,000 square hec- tareas (469,300 square acres.) Studies are in progress for making use of the waters of the Yaqui and Mayo Rivers in Sonora, the Conchos and San Benayentura Rivers in Chisuahua and the Sauceda River in Durango. Zones are also being irrigated with waters from the Tepeji River in Hidalgo and from the drainage canal of the valley of Mexico in the valley and in the Mezquital region of Hidalgo.

To the present the commission has expended the sum of 11,511,581.84 pesos, divided as follows: construction, machinery and equipment, 7,727,918.94 pesos; land and right, 2,495,582.69 pesos; studies and plans, 1,065,285.38 pesos; miscellaneous construction, 95,20.03 pesos; instruments, tools, etc., 127,675 pesos. The government's irrigation programme is not limited to the projects outlined above. It will be amplified in accordance with the national necessities and the financial power of the treasury. This is an enormous work. My desire is to sustain and continue it with the greatest enthusiasm and not to abandon it, but on the contrary, to intensify it day by day.

INDUSTRY, COMMERCE AND LABOR

The diverse circumstances which compelled the Federal Executive to adopt a resolute attitude in defense of the legitimate interests of the Mexican people during the past year, and which appreciably affected the economic conditions of the country, provide a severe test for this department. It emerged from it successfully. In each case it acted with firm judgment, but in a conciliatory manner, to reconcile the interests of the distinct social groups concerned without in the least degree sacrificing the national dignity and sovereignty. It is especially satisfactory to note that high significance attaches to the fact that, despite all the obstacles which were encountered, the programme of the government has been faithfully complied with. I will add merely that the resolution of the difficult problems confided to its attention has always been preceded by a serene and careful investigation, in order that it might proceed in every case with all confidence, and that this is the standard to which this department of the government intends to adhere in the future.

Difficulties having arisen as the result of the expiration of the existing contracts between the Mexican Railway Company and its organized employees, the department was called in to mediate, which it did successfully. New contracts were made which explicitly set forth the mutual rights and obligations of the parties to them and established the principle that, under the terms of Article 123 of the Constitution, employees who lost their positions as the result of necessary reductions in personnel, must be properly indemnified.

The department has striven to obtain the maximum of safety and hygienic working conditions for the workers, to the end of enabling them to preserve their health and to prevent so far as possible occupational accidents. As a result, labor difficulties during the year were appreciably reduced, only 334 cases having been recorded.

Important work was done by our labor representatives abroad in the direction of bringing the workers of Mexico and of other countries in close touch with each other and in creating a better understanding outside of Mexico of our people and their just aspirations for moral and material improvement.

More than 41,000 workers applied to the department during the year for financial redress against their employers. Compensation was awarded to them to the amount of 688,975.25 pesos. The department also devoted much attention to the study of the prevailing rates of wages, in order to determine the minimum wage which would enable its recipient to live decently and comfortably; to providing jobs for the idle and to controlling with efficiency the multiple aspects of the important social function constituted by labor.

 

PETROLEUM DEPARTMENT

Despite the debate over the petroleum law of December 1926, there were registered in this Department 973 applications for petroleum concessions, of which 675 were confirmed and 308 were given preferential rights. The first provided protection to the owners of a total of 10,877,446 hectares of land and the second 3,784,372 hectares. The latter figures include land claimed by all the companies which have not manifested the holdings which they assert they acquired prior to 1917, regardless of the names in which rights are claimed. The rights which may be regarded as not complying with the law comprise only 527,027 hectares, which are rights obtained prior to 1917, confirmation of which has not been applied for by the companies. Of the 147 companies operating in the country in December last, 125 have submitted to the new legislation and only 22 have declined to do so. This fact demonstrates the unjustifiable attitude assumed by the recalcitrant companies. The study and drafting of the new regulations for the operations of the petroleum industry, which will soon be promulgated, has been another of the important functions of the department. Its object is to bring about the scientific conservation and proper use of the petroleum resources of the country. It should be noted that the standards established by Mexico for the regulation of the industry, proceeding from the laws which have been so bitterly opposed, have commenced to be adopted even in the United States, the country which is most vigorous in its opposition to our laws.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Inasmuch as the Secretary of Education will tomorrow present a detailed report to the Congress, I shall limit myself to mentioning various considerations of a general nature and referring to the most interesting educational problems which we are endeavoring to solve.

As I have frequently stated since I became President, the constant philosophical thought which has guided the government in its educational work has tended toward placing the school in more intimate contact with the community, in order that the benefits of the former might not be alone confined to the student, but that they might be taken advantage of by the people and especially the industrial and rural masses.

It has been our steadfast endeavor to awaken and develop the economic potentialities of our people for the benefit of the collective welfare by imparting through the schools knowledge capable of immediate practical application. Consequently we have tried in all grades of our scholastic establishment to create a nexus between the schools and the community. Naturally, it has been by means of the rural schools, which come most closely in touch with the agrarian masses, who have been isolated from the benefits of civilization, that we have especially sought to bring about this contact. But it must be confessed sincerely, in order to counteract any impression which may prevail that we imagine that we have already attained this end and that no new forces must be brought to bear in the future in this direction, that what we have thus far done consists of little more than essays in realism and in the reconstruction of society.

Although the principle of national education is now definitely established in Mexico in its various branches and activities, in accordance with its modern philosophical conception, so distinct from the merely instructive work which it formerly pursued, so long as we fail in perfecting a complete coordinated action and sustaining influence upon the rural masses, and especially upon the Indians, the efforts of the rural school, no matter how energetic and generous they may be, will continue to be weak and insufficient, considering that in the work of civilization the scholastic element is only a minimum part.

In addition to the traditionally distinct activities of the school, that is to say, the study of language, writing, arithmetic, geography, etc., which is already an important feature of our rural schools, we are trying to teach the breeding, care and use of domestic animals, small industries, the making of clothing, objects of ornament, toys and furniture; the proper preparation of food, tanning, the weaving of cloth and serapes, the fabrication of pottery. We are trying, I repeat, to concentrate and reduce to practicability these non-traditional educational activities in accordance with the conditions and the means with which we have to cope, in order that they may exert a more intense and rapid influence upon the collective life of the people.

Notwithstanding the economies enforced upon the treasury, the federal government is now sustaining 3,433 rural school teachers and six agricultural missions. These teachers are experienced in agriculture, small industries, physical education, hygiene and the imparting of information useful for social action. The missions are bearing to the various parts of the country the civilizing agencies to which I previously referred. Nine Rural Normal Schools for the training of rural school teachers and their education along the lines indicated by the new social tendencies of the country, are developing an intensive work in isolated communities in which, in common with the rural schools, they are endeavoring to promote the collective cultural progress among adults by means of night, Saturday and Sunday classes. Their object is not merely to impart knowledge, but to stimulate new sources of production and improve the organization of existing ones. In a word, to elevate the standards of living among the Mexican people.

 

NATIONALIZATION OF CHURCH PROPERTY

When the Attorney General created this department he had no doubt of its value. It affords me satisfaction to say that his judgment was correct. Notwithstanding its scant personnel and appropriation, it has begun and concluded 158 proceedings affecting rural property, 749 affecting urban property and 47 relating to mortgages. As a result of these proceedings, which have been brought before the district and the Supreme Court judges, 225 rural and 1,443 urban properties, of an estimated value of 21,000,000 pesos, have been nationalized. This bureau also has obtained possession of credits and legacies in favor of the Catholic Church of a value of 1,000,000 pesos.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH

In view of the powers granted it under the new sanitary code, the department has extended the activities of the federal health service by installing in each state a sanitary delegation. Seventy-four offices have been established throughout the country, including the representations in the states, at the ports, on the frontier, dispensaries, etc. A congress of local sanitary authorities will be held in Mexico City during the present month for the purpose of standardizing the functions of the authorities in connection with the federal health service, endorsing the acts of the sanitary units and to plan an active campaign against venereal diseases. An indication of the enthusiastic manner in which invitations to this congress have been received by the state governments is indicated by the fact that some of the states have offered to permit the funds raised locally for sanitation to be administered by the federal health officials. In connection with these activities, this department has suggested to the state governments the desirability of organizing sanitary units in each municipality. As a result approximately 1,000 of these units have thus far been organized. To combat infant mortality, advantage has been taken of the disinterested sympathies of the women of Mexico to form a corps of Volunteer Visiting Nurses. The Executive takes this opportunity to express his appreciation of the noble generosity with which the women have engaged in this crusade for infant hygiene. While the amount is not so large as the Executive would like to see it, although possibly it may be increased next year, the appropriation for the federal health service this year is 8,388,947.50 pesos, an increase of 3,28,643.30 pesos over the preceding year.

 

CONCLUSION

The characteristic which among public officials should be most highly estimated is that their actual deeds should be intimately related with the sincerity of their convictions. I have tried to mark all of my administrative acts with truth and sincerity. I have sought to comply strictly with the Constitutional law and to work with the other branches of the government and with the state governments in an atmosphere of mutual respect and in reciprocal observation of their orders and in harmony and in cordial understanding. While this has been his attitude with respect to domestic affairs, the President has likewise exerted especial efforts to strengthen the ties of friendship between the people of Mexico and those of other nations, according to the most elevated conceptions of decorum and dignity and always upon a basis of common and unequivocal demonstrations of respect to our sovereignty and to that of our neighbors.

Despite the intense economic crisis which pervades the world and the sacrifices imposed upon the Republic in the painful and necessary struggle to effect the rational development and the equitable distribution of the national wealth, the Executive while pursuing his programme of rigid and persistent economy, has still been able to meet the demands of the public service and has not alone complied with interior obligations, which naturally are given preference, but also with foreign commitments and has sought with tenacious earnestness to establish the country's credit abroad.

Similar success has been accomplished in coping with the unexpected disbursements caused by the military campaigns against the Yaquis and in Jalisco and Guanajuato. These were carried to successful conclusions with a decision and energy which provides eloquent testimony to the efficiency, discipline and military capacity of our army and to its ability to guarantee the inviolability of our democratic institutions and to insure public peace and tranquility in the country.

With firmness and vigor the Executive has continued his agrarian policy, and has corrected the deficiencies in the agrarian law and incessantly repaired errors which have been thrown into relief by experience. In the conviction that the true prosperity of the country depends upon the cultivation of the land, he has commenced great irrigation works and founded agricultural schools in order that the rural masses may acquire profitable knowledge and obtain a more exact and perfect idea of the value and significance of a moral and social solidarity among the workers.

As a proper measure for encouraging and making productive agricultural activities the Executive, according to the financial ability of the government, has brought about the construction and the development of land, water and aerial communications and extended his full support to this interesting branch of the administration in the comprehension that adequate means of communication are a fundamental basis for the progress of the people.

In consonance with the development of communications the Executive has sought equally to favor industry and national commerce by rendering it practically possible to transport products at low rates, with the object of diminishing imports and increasing exports as much as possible. The motive of the Executive in this respect has been, and will continue to be, to bring about the uplifting of the industrial workers, the rural masses and the toilers generally who constitute the proletariat, to offer them the means of comfortable living and to dignify to the extent that is permitted by our powers those who are the true builders of national greatness. The frank evidence of the support of this policy, supplied by the legislation recently initiated by the Executive, is an open demonstration that neither interior nor exterior opposition nor the obstinate resistance of conservatism has succeeded in modifying the judgment or the purpose of the government, which is resolved steadfastly to maintain unimpaired the national sovereignty and the free right of Mexico to legislate in such debated questions as petroleum and in others of no less transcendental importance.

In line with his general concern for the welfare of the workers, the Executive has the obligation of fighting illiteracy and ignorance among the masses, which is being done through the continuous and progressive establishment of rural schools. Through self-denial and heroic force it has been possible to carry to the foremost corners of the country the benefits of these institutions.

All of these efforts, which are inspired by impulses of tangible truth and an unbreakable sincerity of conviction, I have brought to your attention in the summary of my work as Executive during the past year. To conclude, I shall say once more before this Congress that the greatest reward to which I aspire in return for whatever efforts I have made for the welfare of the Mexican people is that they may believe that I have complied with my duty.

 

El General - Address to Congress pdf Excerpt from: Calles, Plutarco E. Mexico Before the World. Trans. Robert H. Murray. New York: The Academy Press, 1927. 168-192 Download the PDF (1.6 MB)
 

 

 





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For seven years General Plutarco Elías Calles has loomed indestructible in the Mexican picture, like a Toltec pyramid — huge, harsh, mysterious. His name adds naturally to the list of dictatorial gladiators that the world watches with mixed feelings. . . . He has been called a Mexican Mussolini, an Indian von Hindenburg, a Latin American Lenin.”

— Anita Brenner,
The New York Times, 1937