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Book Excerpt Mexico Before the World

In his second annual address to his constituents, President Calles discussed the state of the union, highlighting the government's objectives.

New Year Message to the Mexican People, January 1, 1927

In pursuance with the practice established a year ago, I take advantage of the New Year to send a cordial greeting to the people of Mexico and to inform them directly concerning the general situation of the country, the work of the government and the objects which have been sought by the executive.

In following the example of the most highly civilized countries of the world in seeking successfully their economic and political independence and their prosperity and full development, by the adoption of methods and systems for the utilization of our natural resources and the defense of our just national rights, the government has encountered the lack of confidence and the resistance which the [implementation] of all innovations naturally provokes, and been compelled to cope with internal and external difficulties. The policy of strict compliance with the application of our laws has also necessarily invited the opposition of strong antagonistic forces. But fortunately the points of controversy with other governments has been dealt with by methods and according to procedures appropriate to a serene technical discussion. Foreign objections and opposition have not fundamentally altered the peaceful relations of Mexico with her neighbors, and the government has been able to comply strictly with all of its domestic and foreign obligations without interference with the reconstructive activities which have been carried on by me since I took charge of the government. Hence, despite serious economic obstacles created by complementary and intricate causes, all of a social and political nature, it is possible for me to affirm that during the past year financial stability has been brought about by drastic economical and administrative measures. The extensive educational programme mapped out for 1926 has been carried on. The central agricultural schools have been constructed as they were projected. Some of the irrigation works have been completed and placed in operation and plans have been laid for constructing others during the present year. The reorganization and reequipment of the army has been continued and the work of reorganizing the administrative departments of the government has not been halted. All these, working together, have enabled the executive to accomplish important progress toward the economic betterment of the community and the moral and social uplifting of the people, which constitutes the object most vehemently striven for by the present government.

Unfortunately, these projects for the redemption and the economic and social betterment of the masses of Mexico, without detriment to the just rights and prosperity of the privileged classes, either through bad faith or the malice of selfish interests or lack of a proper understanding of the situation, have continued to be interpreted as manifestations of a destructive tendency in the government. By a rancorous press campaign it has been sought to present Mexico as emulating or sustaining exotic systems of government and as conducting both at home and abroad a propaganda in favor of political and social systems which are absolutely foreign to our methods and our tendencies.

Firm in my conviction that eventually the truth would prevail, I have continued my work serenely, without preoccupying myself with calumnies or with rumors. I have limited myself to stating, when occasion served, that our problems, which essentially are the same as those of any people who are in a state of evolution, presented phases peculiar to Mexico and that for this reason it would be illogical for us to adopt the exotic methods of which we are accused. As to the usefulness of these methods, in an ambient outside of Mexico, it is impossible for us to judge, but I am very certain that they do not meet the conditions which exist in our country nor correspond to our Constitutional political organizations or to my consistent acts as executive.

It is natural, when one considers the resistance logically to be expected from the antagonistic forces and interests to which I have previously alluded, that an unjust lack of confidence has been produced abroad, notwithstanding the fact that the policy adopted by my government has not damaged any foreign interest and despite my reiterated intention of not construing the laws of my country in a manner to harm such foreign interests as had established themselves in Mexico prior to the enaction of the laws in question and which obey the interpretation which might be placed upon these laws by the Federal Supreme Court. I have insisted that only the inspired press campaign of our enemies and the natural timidity of capital could restrain or delay the benefits proceeding from a collaboration between Mexico and other countries, the moral energy and capital of which would always be welcomed in Mexico, restricted only by the necessity of respecting our laws and limited only by proper measures to prevent collaboration from being translated into absorption, to the prejudice of our national interests.

I take this opportunity to repeat, ten months after the initiation by the Catholic hierarchy in Mexico of their defiance of the laws of Mexico, as I have expressed from the beginning and which opinion has not been modified by the sometimes rebellious or seditious attitude of the clergy, that the present government has not sought, nor will it seek, to combat the exercise or the development of any religious activity; that questions of faith or creed or dogma are absolutely without the jurisdiction and the aims of the government; that I have the same sincere respect for all manifestations of conscience or of religious creed and that it is a foolish fable, imagined by the Catholic clergy, that the government has at any time sought to combat in any manner or to destroy any religious faith.

In this matter, as in all others which have for their object, or which have originated in, resistance to the law, or the offering of difficulties to the reconstructive action of the government, I have sought, and succeeded in seeing to it, that our course of strictly applying the law to the activities of our enemies should rigidly be adhered to. I have maintained our position on a plane of perfect serenity and have not permitted the conduct of doctrine or of law, which has been followed and ordained by the government, to be obscured by passion, by a spirit of reprisal or by political rancor.

The cooperation of the other powers of the government and the valuable aid to order and respect to the law rendered by the national army have enabled and surely will continue to enable the country to emerge triumphantly from this true epoch of trial. Despite the criminal efforts which have been made to throw the country into civil turmoil and to seduce from their duty isolated members of the army, which is the support of safety and national rights, all of those who compose the army organization have to the present maintained themselves in perfect discipline and have confined themselves to their legitimate sphere of action as prescribed by the law. The government does not doubt that the army will continue by its attitude to increase its own prestige and that of the country. But should personal interests and rancors, intent upon reopening a cycle of civil war, endeavor to cause fresh treasons to blot the fame of what should be the highest and most noble institution of Mexico, the government is absolutely certain that those who are culpable of such acts will be promptly and justly punished.

In my last New Year's message, in the interest of the ample moral and material development of the country and the collective welfare of the people, I appealed in behalf of the government for the frank cooperation of all of the citizens and exhorted them to stand by the government and forget grudges and personal ambitions, with their thoughts fixed upon the well-being and prosperity of the country.

The passions and ancient hatreds, stirred up during the past year by evildoers, by men without consciences, or by those who make play in behalf of their own or foreign interests, causes it to appear Utopian, perhaps, for me to make a similar call at this time. But placing the welfare of Mexico above all else, I insist upon doing so, in order that those who can may redeem themselves from evil influences and that those who are capable, through generosity or patriotic impulse, of liberating themselves from the weight of their prejudices, of their own selfish interests or from their rancors, may unite with us and accept as legitimate our aspirations for the just uplifting of the masses of our country for whom we have fought and for whom we are disposed to continue to fight, under the conviction that only through the improvement of the Mexican masses can the basis be laid of a definite organic peace and the prosperity and development of the whole Mexican family be established.

El General - New Year Address pdf Excerpt from: Calles, Plutarco E. Mexico Before the World. Trans. Robert H. Murray. New York: The Academy Press, 1927. 155-159. Download the PDF (309 kb)






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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

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