Miguel Alemán Valdés

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"Miguel Aleman" redirects here. For other people and places, see Miguel Alemán (disambiguation).
Miguel Alemán
Miguel Aleman.jpg
Seal of the Government of Mexico.svg
46th President of Mexico
In office
December 1, 1946 – November 30, 1952
Preceded by Manuel Ávila Camacho
Succeeded by Adolfo Ruiz Cortines
Governor of Veracruz
In office
December 1, 1936 – April 6, 1939
Preceded by Ignacio Herrera Tejeda
Succeeded by Fernando Casas Alemán
Personal details
Born Miguel Alemán Valdes
(1900-09-29)September 29, 1900
Sayula, Veracruz, Mexico
Died May 14, 1983(1983-05-14) (aged 82)
Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s) Beatriz Velasco (1913-1981)

Miguel Alemán Valdés (Spanish pronunciation: [miˈɣel aleˈman]; September 29, 1900[1] – May 14, 1983) served as the President of Mexico from 1946 to 1952. His administration was characterized by Mexico's rapid industrialization, but also for a high level of personal enrichment for himself and his associates.[2]


Alemán was born in Sayula in the state of Veracruz[3] as the son of Gen. Miguel Alemán González and Tomasa Valdés Ledezma. As a child, he was not permitted to attend school in his home town, due to his father's political beliefs (he was a former revolutionary general), but he did study in other areas instead. He attended the National Preparatory School in Mexico City from 1920-25, then went to the National School of Law until 1928, completing his law degree with his thesis on occupational diseases and accidents among workers. As a successful attorney, his first practice was in representing miners suffering from silicosis. He won two notable legal victories in representing workers against corporations--the first was in securing compensation for dependents of railroad workers who were killed in revolutionary battles, the second was to gain indemnities for miners injured at work.[3] These victories gained him great favor with Mexico's labor unions.

Meeting with Mexican president Miguel Alemán Valdés, from left to right: Jorge Negrete, Alemán, Mario Moreno Cantinflas and María Tereza Montoya.

Representing the Party of the Mexican Revolution (an earlier name of the party later known as the PRI), he served as Senator from the state of Veracruz from 1934-36. When Manlio Favio Altamirano, the governor-elect of Veracruz, was assassinated, Alemán accepted appointment as Governor from 1936-39.[4] The appointment can be seen as a political reward from the Cárdenas administration for helping oust Plutarco Elías Calles during the intra-party struggle.[5] From 1940-45, he served as Secretary of the Interior (Gobernación) under Manuel Ávila Camacho after directing Ávila's presidential campaign. As Secretary of the Interior during World War II, he dealt with Axis espionage and Sinarquistas,[6] whom some consider Mexican fascists.

Alemán was chosen as the official candidate of the party in 1945, running for President in 1946. He followed the pattern established by Lázaro Cárdenas' campaign in 1934, so that Alemán campaigned in all parts of the country, a means by which the candidate sees all areas of the republic and voters make contact with the candidate. He was the winner of the elections held on July 7 of that year, defeating former foreign minister Ezequiel Padilla. He became the first non-military candidate to win the presidency of Mexico, although he was the son of a revolutionary army general. His own skills within the party that brought him the post of Ministry of the Interior played a key role in his selection.

Presidency 1946-52[edit]

Alemán was inaugurated as President of the Republic on December 1, 1946[7] and served until 1952. He was enormously popular prior to his presidency and in his early years as president, but lost support in the waning days of his term.[6]

As president he pushed the program of industrialization in Mexico and was very friendly toward business. This stance on economic development was a key reason he was tapped to be the party's candidate rather than possible candidates with ideas similar to Cárdenas'.[6] This period of rapid growth and industrialization has been dubbed the Mexican miracle.

Miguel Alemán

Domestic policy[edit]

Miguel Alemán Valdés in the Congress

As president Alemán pursued industrial development, increasing the extension of the nation's rail network, improving highways and constructing a number of major schools. He put the nationalized oil industry on a better basis, making it more efficient and productive, aiding other aspects of industrialization.[8] His administration also built a new campus for the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM).[9] He also worked extensively on irrigation and farming, greatly expanding the national production of rice, sugar, bananas, coffee, oats and pineapples. In 1947 he initiated a huge project to control floods and generate hydroelectricity in the state of Oaxaca, culminating with the opening of the Miguel Alemán Dam in 1955.[10] In 1951 he oversaw completion of the diversion of the Lerma River, bringing to an end Mexico City's water supply problems.[11] When hoof-and-mouth disease began to spread among cattle herds, he had thousands of cattle slaughtered in order to contain it. During his administration women were granted the right to vote in municipal elections. In 1952 his administration elevated Baja California to state status. Also during his term, he asserted power by forced imposition of state governors.[8]

He played a major role in the development and support of the city of Acapulco as an international tourist destination. Rampant political corruption and crony capitalism would mark his administration, however, and this would shape the relationship of politics and big business in Mexico until the present day. His successful economic policy led to talk about the Mexican miracle, but only a small elite benefitted from economic growth. His administration took an anti-communist stance and supported the US during the Cold War.[9]

Foreign policy[edit]

During his administration the close relationship with the US developed during World War II continued, although he refused to send Mexican troops to participate in the Korean War.[9]

In 1947, on the eve of the Cold War, he created the Mexican DFS intelligence agency to support and cooperate with CIA operations in Mexico. Its stated mission was "preserving the internal stability . . . against all forms of subversion".[12]

He negotiated a major loan from the United States in 1947. Alemán and US President Harry S. Truman rode in a parade in Washington that attracted an estimated 600,000 well-wishers.[13] Internationally, he signed peace agreements with Japan, Germany and Italy following World War II, had a hand in a truce between Pakistan and India and worked with the US on the issue of braceros.


In his post-presidential years, he was the leader of the right wing of the PRI.[14] In 1961, he was named the president of the national tourist commission, and was influential in bringing the 1968 Summer Olympics to Mexico. In addition, he was the first president of the Mr. Amigo Association in 1964, which celebrates the bi-national friendliness between the United States and Mexico in the Charro Days and Sombrero Festival celebrations held in Matamoros, Tamaulipas and Brownsville, Texas.[15]


  1. ^ Official website of the Presideny of Mexico
  2. ^ Cline, Howard F. Mexico: Revolution to Evolution 1940-1960. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 157-58.
  3. ^ a b Current Biography 1946 Yearbook, p. 9.
  4. ^ Lic. Miguel Alemán Valdés
  5. ^ Cline, Howard F. Mexico: Revolution to Evolution, 1940-1960. New York: Oxford University Press 1963, p. 158.
  6. ^ a b c Cline, Mexico 1940-60, p. 158.
  7. ^ "Aleman Takes Oath Today, First Civilian Executive", San Antonio Express, Dec. 1, 1946, p. 12.
  8. ^ a b Cline, Mexico 1940-60, p. 159.
  9. ^ a b c Coerver, Don M. (2004). Mexico: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History. ABC-CLIO. p. 12. 
  10. ^ Gerardo Cruickshank (1972). "Some Problems of the Papaloapan River Basin" (PDF). Proceedings of University Seminar on Pollution and Water Resources (Colombia University). Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  11. ^ "Water, Water Everywhere", TIME Magazine, September 17, 1951
  12. ^ Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Mexico) Security Reports, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin, Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Mexico) Security Reports, 1970-1977
  13. ^ "Aleman Greeted by Huge Throngs in Washington", AP Report, Joplin (Mo.) Globe, April 30, 1947, p. 1.
  14. ^ Jones, Errol D. "Miguel Alemán Valdés" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 1, p. 39. Chicago: Fitzroy and Dearborn.
  15. ^ "About Us - Mr. Amigo". Mr. Amigo Association. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Manuel Ávila Camacho
President of Mexico
Succeeded by
Adolfo Ruiz Cortines