Emilio Portes Gil
|Emilio Portes Gil|
|41st President of Mexico|
1 December 1928 – 4 February 1930
|Preceded by||Plutarco Elías Calles|
|Succeeded by||Pascual Ortiz Rubio|
3 October 1890|
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas
10 December 1978 (aged 88)|
|Political party||Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)|
|Spouse(s)||Carmen García (1905-1979)|
Emilio Cándido Portes Gil (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈmiljo ˈpoɾtes xil]; 3 October 1890 – 10 December 1978) was President of Mexico from 1928 to 1930, one of three to serve out the six-year term of president-elect General Álvaro Obregón, who was assassinated in 1928. Since the Mexican Constitution of 1917 forbade re-election of a serving president, the out-going president Plutarco Elías Calles could not formally become president. Portes Gil became president, but Calles, the "Jefe Máximo", retained effective political power during what is known as the Maximato.
Early life and education
Portes Gil was born in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico. Although his grandfather had been a prominent politician in Tamaulipas, Portes Gil's father died when Emilio was young. He lived with his widowed mother lived in straitened circumstances, but a state grant helped Portes Gil receive certification as a schoolteacher. He sought to study law.
He was in law school during the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution and in late 1914, he allied himself with "First Chief" Venustiano Carranza, head of the Constitutionalist faction, who would assume the presidency of the country the following May. When Portes Gil graduated from law school in 1915, he had already begun his career in the public administration with a posting in the Constitutionalist faction's Department of Military Justice.
Portes Gil became part of the Northern leadership of the Constitutionalist Army, particularly Álvaro Obregón, who had defeated Pancho Villa's forces and eliminated them as a political or military factor in Mexico after 1915. Key to his subsequent political career was Sonoran general Plutarco Elías Calles. Portes Gil demonstrated skills as a lawyer and administrator, which catapulted him into the presidency of Mexico when Obregón was assassinated in 1928.
Over the ensuing years, he continued to serve the government in both a legal capacity –(supreme state court judge in Sonora; legal advisor to the Ministry of War) and in elective office: he was elected to Congress in 1917, 1921, and 1923, and he served as governor of his native Tamaulipas on two occasions (1920 and 1925).
Between August 28 and November 30, 1928, he was Minister of the Interior (Gobernación) in the cabinet of Plutarco Elías Calles. When president-elect Álvaro Obregón was assassinated on July 17, 1928 by a Catholic opponent, a political solution to the crisis that did not include Calles returning to the presidency was necessary. Portes Gil, with the assent of Calles, assumed office as provisional president for a period of 14 months, when fresh elections were called.
Portes Gil inherited a widespread religious rebellion, the Cristero War that Calles had provoked by aggressively enforcing anticlerical laws. As president, Portes Gil secretly negotiated the end to the conflict between the Catholic Church and the Mexican state, creating a modus vivendi that lasted decades. He has reassured the Catholic Church that their officials could petition congress to amend laws they found offensive and that the Mexican state would not interfere with the internal operations of the church. The government also granted a general amnesty to Cristero fighters.
Faced with a university strike, he defused the situation by convening a special session of Congress, which ultimately enacted the legislation granting autonomy to the National University of Mexico. His settling the strike is one of the acts for which he is best remembered as president.
He also attempted to negotiate the withdrawal of the United States troops from Nicaragua in exchange for the surrender of Nicaraguan General Augusto Sandino. When the talks failed, he granted Sandino political asylum in Mexico and a parcel of land in Temixco.
Portes Gil attempted to steer government officials away from self-enrichment during their terms of office. He wanted to have officeholders who "know how to be loyal to institutions, and like the country want the triumph of the Revolution."
His administration embarked on public works projects building schools, hospitals, and housing for the benefit of ordinary Mexicans. In Mexico City, a new hospital for tuberculosis patients was inaugurated; the physical plant of the National Preparatory School, housed in the colonial-era Colegio de San Ildefonso, was expanded; a major sports center open to all, built on a former city dump; and new police and fire stations built in Art Deco design.
He handed on the presidential sash to Pascual Ortiz Rubio on February 5, 1930, but effective power still remained in the hands of Calles. Portes Gil later served for 18 months as interior minister.
He subsequently traveled to Europe as Mexico's first representative to the League of Nations. Under later presidents, he served in various capacities, including ambassador to India, foreign minister, attorney-general, and president of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (National Revolutionary Party).
In 1934, Lázaro Cárdenas was Calles's hand-picked successor to the presidency. Calles attempted to retain his own power as he had done throughout the Maximato, but Cárdenas outmaneuvered Calles politically and eventually exiled him from Mexico. Cárdenas put Portes Gil in charge of purging the party of Callista elements. Since Portes Gil was "one of the 'puppet presidents' so unceremoniously dumped by Calles, [Portes Gil] was happy to serve."
Cárdenas reorganized the party as the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM), setting the structural form of sectoral representation that its 1946 successor, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), retains. Cárdenas, however, returned Portes Gil to his stronghold in Tamaulipas once the former president had performed his task, since the latter "attempted to build up his own position for a possible political comeback."
- "Emilio Portes Gil". Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
- Ankerson, Dudley. "Emilio Portes Gil" in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p. 1173.
- Casteel, Cari. "Portes Gil, Emilio". The Historical Text Archive.
- Ankerson, "Emilio Portes Gil", p. 1173.
- Tuck, Jim. "THE CRISTERO REBELLION – PART 1", Mexico Connect, 1996.
- Roderic Ai Camp, "Emilio Portes Gil" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 4, p. 445. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
- David Espinosa, Jesuit Student Groups, the Universidad Iberoamericana, & Political Resistance in Mexico, 1913-1979. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2014, pp.46-47.
- Mabry, Donald J. "UNAM Student Strikes, 1929–1968". The Historical Text Archive, 2001.
- Camp, "Emilio Portes Gil"
- Buchenau, Jürgen. In the shadow of the giant: the making of Mexico's Central America policy, 1876–1930. University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa, 1996. Pages 178–180.
- Patrice Elizabeth Olsen, Artifacts of Revolution: Architecture, Society, and Politics in Mexico City, 1920-1940. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2008, p. 49.
- Olsen, Artifacts of Revolution, pp. 48-54.
- Cline, Howard F. The United States and Mexico, Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1961, p. 221.
- Cline, United States and Mexico, p. 221.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emilio Portes Gil.|
- Alvardo Mendoza, Arturo. El Portesgilismo en Tamaulipas: Estudio ssobre lad Constitución de la Autoridad Pública en el México Postrevolucionario. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1992.
- Ankerson, Dudley. "Emilio Portes Gil" in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, pp. 1173-74.
- Covian Martínez, Vidal Efrén. Emilio Portes Gil: Gobernador Delahuertista de Tamaulipas. Ciudad Victoria: Siglo XX 1967.
- González, Hugo Pedro. Portesgilismo y Alemanismo en Tamaulipas. Ciudad Victoria: Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, 1983.
- Newspaper clippings about Emilio Portes Gil in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
Plutarco Elías Calles
| President of Mexico
Pascual Ortiz Rubio
|Party political offices|
| President of the Revolutionary National Party
Matías Ramos Santos
| President of the Revolutionary National Party
Silvano Barba González