Ávila Camacho, Manuel (1897–1955)

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Ávila Camacho, Manuel (1897–1955)

Manuel Ávila Camacho (b. 24 April 1897; d. 13 October 1955), president of Mexico (1940–1946), remembered for his moderate leadership and for his consolidation and refinement of the achievements of his predecessor, Lázaro Cárdenas. His administration was crucial in the final transition from military to civilian political leadership, and in tempering government attitudes toward the Roman Catholic church after he declared himself a believer. He also moderated the nationalism and anti-Americanism of the Cárdenas administration, which had been symbolized by the 1938 nationalization of oil, and allied Mexico with the United States during World War II. As president Ávila Camacho reversed socialist tendencies in public education, repealing constitutional amendments stipulating adherence to that philosophy of education.

Ávila Camacho was born in Teziutlán, Puebla, the hometown of his lifelong friend, the notable labor leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano. (One source claims, however, that his birthplace was Martínez de la Torre, Veracruz.) He was largely raised by his mother, Eufrosina Camacho, and received some preparatory schooling and business training, but instead of continuing his education he joined the Constitutionalists under General Antonio Medina in 1914. He remained in the army as a career officer, serving his mentor, Lázaro Cárdenas, as chief of staff in 1920. Three years later he commanded the 79th Cavalry Regiment in Michoacán, where he opposed the rebellion of Adolfo de La Huerta. Promoted to brigadier general in 1929, he again fought under General Cárdenas against the Escobar rebellion, the last major uprising of disgruntled Revolutionary generals against the government. Between 1929 and 1934 he commanded several important military zones, and when Cárdenas reached the presidency in 1934, Ávila Camacho was appointed oficial mayor (executive officer) of the secretariat of national defense, after which he rose to sub-secretary and, ultimately, in 1937, to secretary of that agency. He resigned his position 17 January 1939 to run for president on the government party ticket in a heated electoral campaign against Juan Andrew Almazán.

See alsoMexico: Since 1910 .


Luis Medina, Historia de la revolución mexicana, vol. 20, Del cárdenismo al avilacamachismo (1978), and vol. 21, Civilismo y modernización del autoritarismo (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Buenfil Burgos, Rosa Nidia. Argumentación y poder: La mística de la revolución mexicana rectificada. Mexico City: Plaza y Valdés, 2004.

Krauze, Enrique. El sexenio de Avila Camacho. Mexico City: Clío, 1999.

Miller, Michael Nelson. Red, White, and Green: The Maturing of Mexicanidad, 1940–1946. El Paso: Texas Western Press, University of Texas at El Paso, 1998.

                                         Roderic Ai Camp