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Calculating Pragmatism: The High Politics of the Banco Ejidal in Twentieth-century Mexico

  • Nicole Mottier (a1)

Extract

The battles that peasants waged during the Mexican Revolution translated into a series of agrarian and agricultural institutions, and one of these was the Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, created in 1926. Histories deeply engrained in both the popular imagination of Mexico and scholarly historiography have offered a generic classic narrative of ejidal credit, beginning with Lázaro Cárdenas. He and his cabinet sought to transform the ejido into the engine of agricultural growth for the nation and carried out a sweeping and (in qualified ways) successful land reform, thereby bringing the revolution to the fullest fruition many Mexicans would ever know. It is assumed that ejidal credit peaked during Cárdenas's administration in two major ways: first, it was in this period that ejidal credit societies received the most loans from the Banco Nacional del Crédito Ejidal, and second, it was during the same period that the bank clearly and unanimously embraced social reform goals over orthodox banking goals.

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1. I have compiled this story from the sources cited in notes 2 through 6. Additional sources include Herzog, Jesús Silva, El agrarismo mexicano y la reforma agraria: exposición y crítica, (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1959); Wilkie, James, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970); Medina, Luis, Del cardenismo al avilacamachismo (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1978 ; Medina, Luis, Civilismo y modernización del autoritarismo (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1982); Markiewicz, Dana, The Mexican Revolution and the Limits of Agrarian Reform 1915–1946 (Boulder & London: Lynn Rienner Publishers, 1993); and de Alcántara, Cynthia Hewitt, Modernizing Mexican Agriculture: Socioeconomic Implications of Technological Change, 1940–1970 (Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 1976). See also Hewitt's paper, “Land Reform, Livelihood, and Power in Rural Mexico,” in Environment, Society, and Rural Change in Latin America, D. A. Preston, ed. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1980); de la Peña, Sergio and Ibarra, Marcel Morales, “La Guerra y la Adecuación Capitalista,” in Historia de la cuestión agraria mexicana: el agrarismo y la industrialización en México, 1940-50, De la Peña, Sergio, ed. (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1989) pp. 32118 ; Sanderson, Susan, Land Reform in Mexico, 1910–1980 (Orlando, FL: Academic Press: Inc, 1984); Hellman, Judith Adler, Mexico In Crisis, 2nd ed. (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1983); Warman, Arturo, Venimos a contradecir: los campesinos de Morelos y el estado nacional (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Superiores del INAH, 1976); Gledhill, John, Casí Nada: A Study of Agrarian Reform in the Homeland of Cardenismo (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991); Rello, Fernando, State and Peasantry in Mexico: A Case Study of Rural Credit In La Laguna (Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 1987); and Walsh, Casey, Building the Borderlands: A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton Along the Mexico-Texas Border (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2008).

2. Toledo, Saúl Escobar, “El cardenismo más allá del reparto: acciones y resultados,” in Historia de la cuestión agraria mexicana: el cardenismo: un parteaguas histórico en el proceso agrario (segunda parte) 1934-40 (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1990) pp. 423–482; Sergio de la Peña, “En los umbrales de la Segunda Guerra Mundial,” in Historia de la cuestión agraria pp. 3–31; Hansen, Roger, The Politics of Mexican Development (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974); Vaughan, Mary Kay, Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants and Schools in Mexico, 1930-1940 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997); Mena, Raúl Ortiz, Urquidi, Víctor L., Wasterston, Alberto, and Haralz, Jonas H., El desarrollo económico de México y su capacidad para absorber capital del exterior (Mexico City: Nacional Financiera, 1953).

3. Mobarak, Gustavo del Angel, an expert in agricultural credit to smallholders and ejidatarios for the 19th through 21st centuries, focused on FIRA from 1954 to 2004 in del Angel Mobarak, Gustavo, ed., Cosechando progreso: FIRA a cincuenta años de su creación, (Mexico City: FIRA, 2004); Fernández, Ramón y Fernández, , Una estructura institucional ideal para el crédito agrícola (Texcoco [Mexico State]: UA Chapingo, COLPOS, 1977); Fernández y Fernández, Ramón: La ley de reforma agraria, el crédito agrícola y el desarrollo agrícola, (Texcoco [Mexico State]: UA Chapingo, COLPOS, 1971); Restrepo, Iván and Eckstein, Salomón, La agricultura colectiva en México: la experiencia de La Laguna, 2nd ed. (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1979 ; Eckstein, Salomón, El ejido colectivo en México (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1966).

4. Jesús Méndez Reyes, “Revolución heterodoxa: las políticas de crédito agrícola en la reconstrucción del financiamiento y de la Banca en México (1905–1936)” (PhD diss.: Centro de Estudios Históricos, Colegio de México, 2010).

5. de Albornoz, Álvaro, Trayectoria y ritmo del Crédito Agrícola en México (Mexico City: Instituto Mexicano de Investigaciones Económicos, 1966); Osorio, Sergio Reyes, Stavenhagen, Rodolfo, Eckstein, Salomón, and Ballesteros, Juan, “El crédito a la agricultura,” in Estructura agraria y desarrollo agrícola en México: estudio sobre las relaciones entre la tenencia y uso de la tierra y el desarrollo agrícola de México, 2nd ed, Osorio, Sergio Reyes, ed. (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1979).

6. Torres, Blanca, Hacia la utopía industrial 1940-52, Historia de la Revolución Mexicana Series (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1984); Solís, Leopoldo, “La realidad económica mexicana: retrovisión y perspectives,” in Obras, X, Textos de Análisis económico (ensayos y escritos diversos), Solís, Leopoldo, ed. (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2005); Niblo, Stephen, War, Diplomacy, and Development: The United States and Mexico 1938-54 (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1995); Cline, Howard, Mexico: Revolution to Evolution 1940-60 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962); Vernon, Raymond: The Dilemma of Mexico's Development: The Roles of the Private and Public Sectors (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963.)

7. See Knight, Alan, “The Rise and Fall of Cardenismo,” in Mexico After Independence, Bethell, Leslie, ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 289 ; Knight, Alan, “The End of the Mexican Revolution? From Cárdenas to Avila Camacho, 1937-1941,” in Dictablanda, Gillingham, Paul and Smith, Benjamin, eds. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014) 50 ; Schuler, Friedrich, Mexico Between Hitler and Roosevelt: Mexican Foreign Relations in the Age of Lázaro Cárdenas, 1934–1940 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), chapt. 4; Lewis, Stephen, The Ambivalent Revolution: Forging State and Nation in Chiapas, 1910-1955 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005).

8. This builds on earlier interpretations of moderation in cardenista fiscal policies overall. See Cárdenas, Enrique, La hacienda pública y la política económica, 1929–1958 (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994).

9. This fits within Jaime Rus's and Moreno Brid's interpretation of cardenismo, for as they put it, “In sum, the Cárdenas period saw the consolidation of a developmental state, in the sense of putting in place a state with the aim of raising social welfare and with sufficient autonomy and resources to pursue a coherent economic policy. The Cárdenas administration was also characterized by a prudent management of public finances, far from the populist experiments elsewhere in Latin America such as those of Juan Perón in Argentina and Getúlio Vargas in Brazil.” Brid, Moreno and Rus, Jaime, Development and Growth in the Mexican Economy: A Historical Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 88 .

10. See for example Knight, Alan, “The Rise and Fall of Cardenismo,” in Mexico After Independence, Bethell, Leslie, ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985) p. 261 . This article builds off the evidence that Casey Walsh uncovered in his excellent monograph: Walsh, Building the Borderlands.

11. Casey Walsh, Building the Borderlands, chapt. 6.

12. Gillingham, Paul and Smith, Benjamin T., “Introduction: The Paradoxes of Revolution” in Dictablanda: Politics, Work and Culture in Mexico, 1938-1968, Gillingham, Paul and Smith, Benjamin T., eds. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014) p.2 .

13. Examples include Campián, Miguel González and Lomelí, Leonardo, El Partido de la Revolución: Institución y conflicto (1928-1999) (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura y Económica, 2000); Bartra, Armando, Guerrero Bronco: campesinos, ciudadanos y guerrilleros en la Costa Grande (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 2000); Quezada, Sergio Aguayo, La Charola: Una Historia de los servicios de inteligencia en México (Mexico City: Grijalba, 2001); Knight, Alan and Pansters, Will, eds., Caciquismo in Twentieth-century Mexico (London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2006); Rodríguez, Rogelio Hernández, El centro dividido: la nueva autonomía de los gobernadores (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2009); Gillingham, Paul, “Who Killed Crispín Aguilar? Violence and Order in the Postrevolutionary Countryside,” in Violence, Coercion and State-making in Twentieth-Century Mexico: The Other Half of the Centaur, Pansters, Will, ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012) pp. 91111 ; Loeza, Soledad, El Partido Acción Nacional: la larga marcha, 1939–1994: oposición leal y partido de protesta (Mexico City: Fondo de la Cultura Económica, 1999); Smith, Benjamin, Pistoleros and Popular Movements: The Politics of State Formation in Postrevolutionary Oaxaca (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009); Navarro, Aaron, Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938-1954 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010); Quintana, Alejandro, Maximino Avila Camacho and the One-Party State: The Taming of Caudillismo and Caciquismo in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010); Laveaga, Gabriela Soto, Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Sanders, Nichole, Gender and Welfare in Mexico: The Consolidation of a Postrevolutionary State (1937–1958) (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011); Fallaw, Ben and Rugeley, Terry: Forced Marches: Soldiers and Military Caciques in Modern Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012); Dormady, Jason, Primitive Revolution: Restorationist Religion and the Idea of the Mexican Revolution, 1940–1968 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2012); Ohmstede, Antonio Escobar and Butler, Matthew, eds., Mexico in Transition: New Perspectives on Mexican Agrarian History, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Mexico City: CIESAS, 2013); and Gillingham, and Smith, , La Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015). Many of these historians have been influenced by Knight, Alan’s works, including among others The Mexican Revolution, Vols. 1 and 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); and Knight, Alan, “Cardenismo: Juggernaut or Jalopy?Journal of Latin American Studies 26:1 (February 1994): 73107 ; Knight, Alan, “Subalterns, Signifiers, and Statistics: Perspectives on Mexican Historiography, Latin American Research Review 37:2 (2002), 136158 .

14. Interest in the 1940s began among Mexican historians of Mexico in the 1970s. See Medina, Luis, Del cardenismo al avilacamachismo (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1978); Ramírez, Blanca Torres, México en la segunda guerra mundial (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1979). More recent historiographical interventions include Steven Niblo, Mexico in the 1940s, Gillingham and Smith, Dictablanda; Joseph, Gilbert, Rubenstein, Anne, and Zolov, Eric, eds., Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico Since 1940 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001); Rath, Thomas, Myths of Demilitarization Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics, and Corruption in Postrevolutionary Mexico, 1920–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press); and Jones, Hal, The War Has Brought Peace to Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 2014).

15. Examples include Yates, Paul, El desarrollo regional de México (Mexico City: Banco Nacional de México, 1962); Vernon, Raymond: The Dilemma of Mexico's Development: The Roles of the Private and Public Sectors (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963 ; Cavazos, Miguel, “Cinquenta años de política monetaria," in Cinquenta años del Banco Central (Mexico City: Fondo Cultura Económica, 1976); Eckstein, Salomón, El ejido colectivo en México (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultural Económica, 1966 ; Wilkie, James, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967 ; Hansen, Roger, The Politics of Mexican Economic Development: the roots of rapid growth (Washington, National Planning Association, 1971); Warman, Arturo, Los campesinos: hijos predilectos del regimen. (Mexico City: Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, 1972); Herzog, Jesús Silva, El agrarismo mexicano y la reforma agraria, (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1974) (third edition); Eckstein, Salomón and Restrepo, Iván, La agricultura colectiva en México: la experiencia La Laguna (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1975); de Alcántara, Cynthia Hewitt, Modernizing Mexican Agriculture: Socioecononomic Implications of Technological Change, 1940-70 (Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 1976); Warman, Arturo, “We Come to Object”: The Peasants of Morelos and the National State (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980); Rosado, Diego G. López, Evolución del control de precios en México (Mexico City: Secretario del Comercio, 1982); Aboites, Luis, El agua de la nación: una historia política de México (1888-1946) (Mexico City: CIESAS, 1998); Warman, Arturo, El campo mexicano en el Siglo XX (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001); De la Peña and Morales Ibarra, El agrarismo y la industrialización; Niblo, Steven, Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics and Corruption (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1990); Casey Walsh, Building the Borderlands; and Gauss, Susan, Made in Mexico: Regions, Nation, and the State in the Rise of Mexican Industrialism, 1920s-1940s (University Park: Penn State Press, 2010).

16. On Mexico: Francois, Marie, A Culture of Everyday Credit: Housekeeping, Pawnbroking and Governance in Mexico City 1750–1920 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006); Levy, Juliette, The Making of a Market: Credit, Henequen, and Notaries in Yucatán (University Park: Penn State Press, 2012); Ben Smith, “Building a State on the Cheap: Taxation, Social Movements, and Politics,” in Dictablanda pp. 225–275; Mottier, NicoleInventing Figures and Imagining Shrubs: Bank Bureaucrats’ Lack of Field Experience in Mexico, 1930s-1940s,” in The Cultural History of Money and Credit, Hsu, Chia Yin, Luckett, Thomas and Vause, Erika, eds. (New York: Lexington Books, 2016) 67–80. On Argentina, see Adelman, Jeremy, Republic of Capital: Buenos Aires and the Legal Transformation of the Atlantic World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); especially Section 3; and Austin, Peter, Baring Brothers and the Birth of Modern Finance (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2007). On Peru, see Burns, Kathryn, Colonial Habits: Convents, and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999); and Quiroz, Alfonso, Corrupt Circles: A History of Unbound Graft in Peru (New York: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). This trend extends beyond the field of Latinamericanist historiography. Muldrew, Craig, The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England (New York: Macmillion, 1998); Robb, Peter, “Credit, Work and Race in 1790s Calcutta: Early Colonialism Through a Contemporary European View,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 37:1 (2000): 125 ; Guinnane, Timothy, “Cooperatives as Information Machines: German Rural Credit Cooperatives, 1883-1914,” Journal of Economic History 61:2 (2001): 366389 ; Finn, Margot, The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture 1740-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Olegario, Rowena, A Culture of Credit: Embedding Trust and Transparency in American Business (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Ferguson, Niall, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008); Mann, Bruce, Republic of Debtors: Bankruptcy in the Age of American Independence (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009); Chia Yin Hsu et al., eds., Cultural History of Money and Credit; Vause, Erika, “Disciplining the Market: Debt Imprisonment and the Making of Commercial Actors in Revolutionary France,” Law and History Review 32:3 (August 2014): 647682 ; Vause, Erika, “‘The Business of Reputations’: Shame, Secrecy, and Social Standing in Nineteenth-century French Debtors’ and Creditors’ Newspapers,” Journal of Social History 48:1 (Fall 2014): 4771 .

17. Ervin, Michael, “The 1930 Agrarian Census in Mexico: Agronomists, Middle Politics, and the Negotiation of Data Collection,” Hispanic American Historical Review 87:3 (2007): 537570 .

18. For example, in the Informe on 1936 (published in 1937), there was no percentage breakdown of the different types of credit extended to ejidatarios. In the Informes on 1936 and 1937, there was no specific peso amount connected to private capital. See, respectively, de Crédito Ejidal S.A., Banco Nacional, Informe que rinde el H. Consejo de administración del Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, S.A., a la primera asamblea general ordinaria de accionistas, ejercicio de 1936 (Mexico City: Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1937); and de Crédito Ejidal S.A., Banco Nacional, Informe que rinde el H. Consejo de administración del Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, S.A. a la primera asamblea general ordinaria de accionistas, ejercicio de 1937 (Mexico City: Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1938). These are the first two annual reports from the Banco Ejidal. For the rest of the essay, these will be referred to as the Banco Ejidal Annual Report on the year indicated, for example: “Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1936.” In the tables, the report titles for the Banco Ejidal Annual Report have been abbreviated to Banco Ejidal AR.

19. It was opened with nominal capital, or the highest amount of share capital the bank issued any of its shareholders, a sum of 50 million pesos. The total amount of shareholder capital that had already been paid in full by shareholders was 20.3 million pesos. Of the paid-in total, 11.8 million pesos had come in the form of cash: 9.5 million from the federal government; 1.9 million from the Banco de México; 55,000 from state governments; and 262,000 from private banks and individuals. The rest of the total paid-in capital, or 8 million pesos, was from credits and properties from the old Caja de Préstamos, which had been put into liquidation. See Simpson, Eyler, The Ejido: Mexico's Way Out (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1937) pp. 383384 . These figures show that the bank's operations were limited from the beginning for lack of capital; the 8 million pesos that were from the Caja were in credits and rural properties, assets of dubious value because many of them were of such a kind and size that they could not be sold, exploited by the bank, or rented.

20. Given space and thematic constraints, the discussion of the pre-Cárdenas history of these banks is abbreviated. For a very quantitative, financial history of Porfirian government-sponsored agricultural credit to smallholders and the story of the development of the Banco Nacional de Crédito Agrícola during the 1920s and the early 1930s, see Jesús Méndez Reyes, “La Revolución Heterodoxa”; Riguzzi, Paolo, “Sistema financiero, banca privada y crédito agrícola en México, 1897–1913: ¿Un desencuentro anunciado? Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 21:2 (Summer 2005): 333367 ; and Simpson, Eyler, The Ejido: Mexico's Way Out (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937), 391 .

21. “If the ejido is nurtured, as has been planned so far,” he argued, “it is possible that the ejidatarios may be able to absorb all the land which today remains outside their jurisdiction.” Quoted in Alan Knight, “The Rise and Fall of Cardenismo,” 257.

22. “Se reorganiza el sistema de crédito rural del país: habrá dos bancos en vez de uno,” El Universal, July 4, 1935, 9, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, 1934–1935, folder AO2147.

23. Wooster, Julia L. and Bauer, Walter, Agricultural Credit in Mexico, US Department of Agriculture, Farm Credit Administration, Bulletin No. CR-4, 1943), 38.

24. Warman, Arturo, Los campesinos: hijos predilectos del regimen (Mexico City: Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, 1972), 77 ; Nathan Whetten, Rural Mexico, 1948, p. 205; Iván Restrepo and Salomón Eckstein, La agricultura colectiva en México: la experiencia de La Laguna, 168.

25. See Mottier, “Inventing Figures and Imagining Shrubs, 73–74.

26. The character Juan Fernando “gloried in his job: for its rigors, and for the ways in which it allowed him to help his people.” He was so dedicated to ejidatarios that he repeatedly carried money on horseback from the bank's central branch in Oaxaca to various ejidal credit societies around the state, braving “danger not only from the wildness of the terrain, but also from enraged owners of haciendas.” Day, Douglas, Malcolm Lowry: A Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) 240242 .

27. Corruption was not limited to the Banco Ejidal bureaucrats; many ejidatarios who participated in the societies took advantage of their positions as well. Various ejidatarios who had been appointed to represent the interests of their local ejidal credit societies in San Pedro, Coahuila, to the Banco Ejidal were, not surprisingly, local bosses who had “amassed fortunes.” Nicole Mottier, “Ejidal Credit and Debt in 20th-Century Mexico” (PhD diss.: University of Chicago, 2013), 195–196.

28. Whetten, Rural Mexico, 193; Wooster and Bauer, Agricultural Credit, 11–12, 44–46.

29. For an analysis of local moneylending, see Nicole Mottier, “The Persistence of Local Moneylending in Myth and Practice in Twentieth-Century Mexico.” Article under review at Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos.

30. For this table and the others in this article, the Banco Ejidal annual reports are important sources. In the source data provided under each table, the abbreviation AR stands for “annual report.”

31. Undated and unsigned contract, August 1937, Centro Carso/Luis Montes de Oca papers [hereafter CC/LMO], folder 319, no. 29467.

32. Mariano Parra Hernández to Marte R. Gómez, April 5, 1943, MRG [hereafter MRG], Series 1943, folder N-R.

33. See for example Will Clayton to Luis Montes de Oca, August 2, 1937, CC/LMO, folder 319/493, no. 29478; Joe Sharp to Montes de Oca, August 7, 1937, CC/LMO, folder 319/493, number 29528; Will Anderson to Montes de Oca, January 14, 1939, CC/LMO, folder 354/419, number 32889.

34. The Anderson and Clayton Company was involved in “refaccionando la producción de algodón, haciendo el servicio de despepite, la molienda de semilla y la compraventa del algodón y su semilla.” Will Clayton to President Cárdenas, June 1, 1937, CC/LMO, folder 311/493, number 28692. Casey Walsh, Building the Borderlands, 118.

35. Quoted in Walsh, Building the Borderlands, 120.

36. Ibid., 122.

37. Will Clayton to President Cárdenas, 1 June 1937, CC/LMO, folder 311, number 28692; Lázaro Cárdenas to Will Clayton, November 30, 1937, Luis Montes de Oca, folder 326, number: 30332. See also Suárez, Eduardo, Comentarios y recuerdos (1926–1946) (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1977), 136142 .

38. Memo, unsigned and undated, CC/LMO, folder 355, number 32973.

39. Walsh, Building the Borderlands, 122.

40. Banco Ejidal, Annual Report on 1941, 17.

41. The document specified that the amount was in US dollars. “Situación algodonera de México 1941–42,” November 13, 1941, Colegio de México, Eduardo Villaseñor Papers, box 25, folder Algodón, 1932–1941.

42. January 22, 1941, Marte R. Gómez Archive [hereafter MRG].

43. Memo al Señor Presidente de la República, February 13, 1946, MRG, Series 1946, folder Documentos Oficiales.

44. See for example the batch of documents from April 1942, all found in the Marte R. Gómez archive, Series 1942, folder Documentos Oficiales II. The documents are Lamar Fleming Jr. to Ávila Camacho, April 15, 1942; Marte R. Gómez to Lamar Fleming Jr., April 15, 1942; Lamar Fleming to Marte R. Gómez, April 20, 1942; Marte R. Gómez to Lamar Fleming Jr., April 20, 1942; and Marte R. Gómez to Lamar Fleming Jr., April 29, 1942.

45. Joe Sharp to Montes de Oca, January 14, 1939, CC/LMO, folder 354, number 32889.

46. In early 1939, Will Clayton expressed his regret that “considerable publicity had been given to [him] and [he] hoped this would not be repeated since the transactions under consideration were private and harm might result from making them public.”Memo, 9 February 1939, CC/LMO, folder 354, Number 32973.

47. Walsh, Building the Borderlands, 122.

48. Walsh, Building, 122.

49. The report noted that the cost of cultivating many hectares came from the credit of particulares, (private individuals, here unnamed) but it did not mention any amounts of pesos. There was also a nebulous reference to the contract the Banco Ejidal had with the Cía Jabonera del Pacífico, S.A. in Mexicali. The report omitted the terms of the contract, or the fact that Anderson Clayton owned the company, and the amount of money in the contract. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1937, 8 and 44.

50. The funds amounted to 24,162,735 pesos, but no detailed accounting was included. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1938, 17.

51. As mentioned earlier, Anderson Clayton's activities in Laguna and Mexicali were kept deliberately hazy, and the company's presence was indicated by various vague names: Algodón Comarca Lagunera, Semilla algodón Comarca Lagunera, and Algodón Mexicali—(Jabonera). Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1941, 16–17.

52. For example, Gómez records simply that amounts of “private capital” lent in Ciudad Obregón for rice, wheat, and chickpeas. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1942, 12–13.

53. Omitting mention of private funding sources from newspaper reports was particularly common during Cárdenas's presidency, when ejidal credit was spoken of as transfers occurring only through the Banco Ejidal or the actions of local moneylenders. There were few mentions of private capital (such as private banks, companies, or individuals) in the Banco Ejidal 1935–61 publication that appeared during Cárdenas's administration (now in the Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, Archivo Económico). During the 1940s, talk of private sources began to reach the public sphere, but only in vague terms. See for example the following articles in the series: Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA 1943–47; “Crédito y garantías para el campo,” El Universal, June 22, 1943; “No habrá más refacciones,” El Universal, October 12, 1943; “La Revolución y el crédito rural” por Julián Rodríguez Adame, November 20, 1944; “Ante dos graves problemas: el agrícola y el ganadero,” El Universal, June 24, 1946. There are exceptions in the Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, Archivos Económicos, Subsection Banco Ejidal, 1935–61. For example, the El Nacional article “Confianza al Banco de Crédito Ejidal” (May 10, 1941) notes that a “business” formed a contract with the Banco Ejidal to channel “un millon quinientos mil pesos” to ejidatarios’ crops in Mexicali (the “business” was probably Anderson Clayton).

54. “Old societies” refer to those that had been in the Banco Agrícola's system since the time when it served both smallholders and ejidatarios. These “old societies” were transferred to the ejidal credit societies via the re-established Banco Ejidal. “En operación” is distinct from “en recuperación,” and is roughly akin to the difference between performing and nonperforming loans. Societies that were en recuperación (in recovery) were considered to be nonperforming. They were, therefore, still considered to be part of the Banco Ejidal and were declared on official documents such as annual shareholder reports. However, they did not receive any loans from the bank, monetary or in kind. The only participation open to them was to pay back their loans.

55. Memo, Instrucciones para formular el presupuesto de operaciones de 1936, Banco de México, Archivo Histórico, Ricardo J. Zevada [hereafter RJZ], box 6, folder 46.

56. Those in the first category did not have any loans in arrears or if they had already-due loans that they hadn't paid back in full, the delay was “justified.” The overdue loans were not a sizable percentage of the entire amount of operations that society had. The unpaid matured loans in the second category did not exceed 10,000 pesos and had come due a maximum of two years prior. Those in the third category had debts of more than 10,000 pesos, on loans that had come due three or more years ago. Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal Circular, June 11, 1940; Marte R. Gòmez Archive, Series 1940, folder A-B.

57. Examples include: “Aumenta la refacción agrícola in Nayarit,” El Universal, November 3, 1937, in Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148; “Más de un millón pesos para créditos de campesinos en el estado de San Luis Potosí,” November 13, 1937, El Nacional, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148; “Amplio apoyo económico a los campesinos de Morelos,” El Nacional, December 17, 1939, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148; “Refacción para el agricultor en una región de Chiapas,” El Nacional, February 1939, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148. This continued into the 1940s, with articles such as “Éxito de la labor del Banco Ejidal en Soconusco, Chiapas,” February 5, 1942, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, Subsection Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1935–1943, folder DO4161. There are similar records in the Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folders AO2148 and DO4161.

58. “Aumenta la refacción agrícola en Nayarit” November 3, 1937, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148, 1936-42.

59. “Refacciones a grupos de campesinos; los de Valle de Juárez van a recibir otros ciento treinta mil pesos,” 3 August 1937, in Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148, 1936–42. A similar article is “Dos millones de pesos para refacción ejidal,” March 6, 1942, Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, Subsection Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1935–1943, folder DO4161.

60. “Amplio crédito para trabajar en el Soconusco,” April 19, 1939, in Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1935-1943 DO4161. Other examples include “El Banco Ejidal aprobó un nuevo plan que beneficia a los campesinos,” March 2, 1939 (about Colima), Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, Subsection Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1935-1943, folder DO4161; “Agencias del Banco Ejidal,” April 6, 1939 (about Chiapas).

61. “E imprimiendo a sus trabajos un sentido social de alcance a las máximas posiblidades” and “Más de un millón de pesos para créditos de campesinos en el estado de San Luis Potosí” 13 November 1937, in Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, folder AO2148, 1936–42.

62. “El Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal contesta a los ataques que le hacen,” 20 October 1938 in Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, AE/CA, Subsection Banco Nacional de Crédito Ejidal, 1935–1943, folder DO4161.

63. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1938, 34.

64. Peasants made a variety of complaints to Cárdenas and Ávila Camacho; these are archived in the Archivo de la Nación, Presidentes. Some examples during Cárdenas's administration are 565.4/277 (Yucatan), 565.4/1009 (Guerrero), 703.4/146 (Durango), and 703.4/204 (Morelos). Among complaints made to Ávila Camacho are 565.4/137 (Baja California), 565.4/55 (Comarca Lagunera), and 703.4/238 (Chiapas).

65. Whetten, Rural Mexico, 195–96.

66. Cárdenas, Lázaro, journal entry, October 6, 1936, Obras: Apuntes I: 1913–1940 (Mexico City: UNAM, 1986), 359 .

67. Marte R. Gómez to Prieto R. Armijo, November 24, 1941, MRG, Series 1941, folder A-CH.

68. Marte R. Gómez to Comesariado of Ejidal “Presidente Cárdenas,” May 18, 1943, MRG, Series 1943, folder Agrarios.

69. For example, the Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1936, 10; and Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1939, 19–20.

70. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1936, 10.

71. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1940, 20.

72. In these reports, the Banco Ejidal did not differentiate between payments received from credit societies on performing loans and the recoveries they received from charge-offs. Both kinds of payments are referred to indiscriminately as “recuperaciones” in the annual shareholder reports on the loan cycles between 1936 and 1946. Documentation created for the sole purposes of the bank (rather than for the public or for shareholders) that might provide more specific information on repayments has proved elusive.

73. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1937, 10.

74. Eckstein, Salomón, El ejido colectivo en México (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1966).

75. For a particularly rich analysis of the pitfalls of cardenista agrarian reform in Yucatán, see Fallaw, Ben, Cárdenas Compromised: The Failure of Reform in Postrevolutionary Yucatan (Durham: Duke University Press: 2001).

76. Saldaña, Tomás Martínez, El costo social de un éxito político: La política expansionista del Estado mexicano en el agro lagunero (Mexico City: Colegio de Postgraduados, Rama de Divulgación Agrícola, 1980).

77. Martínez Saldaña, Exito político; Wolfe, “Water and Revolution”; Salomón Eckstein, El ejido colectivo en México, 277.

78. Simpson, The Ejido, 348–351; Senior, Land Reform and Democracy, 93; Eckstein, Salomón, “Collective Farming in Mexico, the Case of The Laguna,” in Agrarian Problems and Peasant Movements in Latin America, Stavenhagen, Rodolfo, ed. (New York: Anchor Books, 1970). 277283 .

79. Eyler Simpson, The Ejido, 343–344. For a broader analysis of taxation policies in twentieth-century Mexico, see Ben Smith, “Building a State on the Cheap: Taxation, Social Movements, and Politics Smith and Gillingham, Dictablanda 225–275.

80. Relación de los agentes y jefes de zona de las agencies de esta institución, Archivo Histórico del Banco de México, Ricardo J. Zevada Papers, box 7, folder 32.

81. Rozendo Pérez Mera to Banco Eijdal, February 12, 1941, Archivo General de la Nación, Gonzalo Robles Papers, box 28, folder 32.

82. Vaughan, Mary Kay, Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants and Schools in Mexico, 1930–1940 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997).

83. Transcript of assembly in Guadalajara, April 15, 1938, Archivo Histórico Banco de México, RJZ, box 7, folder 39. See also Jefe de Zona report on Michoacán, quoted in Simpson, The Ejido, 380.

84. Transcript of assembly in Guadalajara, April 15, 1938, Archivo Histórico de Banco de México, RJZ, box 7, folder 39. See also Circular, April 7, 1938, Archivo Histórico del Banco de México, RJZ, box 7, folder 34.

85. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1938, 22.

86. This information did not come to light until the Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1946 was published in early 1947 (page 16). It is not surprising that the number of recoveries increased while the percentage of recoveries related to the total overdue loans decreased. The quantity of loans shot up in 1937 to $82,880,019 pesos (from $23,277,692 the previous year). Many of these loans came due 12 to 18 months later, that is, sometime during 1938.

87. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1943, 15.

88. Marte R. Gómez to Comisariado Ejidal de Tesistán (Jalisco), May 9, 1942, MRG, Series 1942, folder Documentos Oficiales.

89. Marte R. Gómez to Comité Ejecutivo de la Liga Central de Comunidades Agrarias de la República, November 17, 1942, MRG, Series 1942, folder Documentos Oficiales.

90. Marte R. Gómez to Unión de Trabajadores del Banco Nacional del Crédito Ejidal, September 30, 1942, MRG, Series 1942, folder Documentos Oficiales.

91. Wooster and Bauer, Agricultural Credit, 49–50.

92. Ibid., 50–52.

93. Marte R. Gómez to Rubén Morales, May 10, 1943, MRG, Series 1943, folder A-B.

94. Ibid.

95. Banco Ejidal Annual Report on 1946, 17.

96. Examples from the Ávila Camacho papers in the Archivo General de la Nación [hereafter AGN] are 404.11/187 (Guanajuato), 404.11/14 (Jalisco), 565.4/721 (Querétaro), and 703.4/92 (Nayarit).

97. Whetten, Rural Mexico, 207.

The author thanks Gustavo del Angel Mobarak, Eric Kurlander, and the anonymous reviewers for The Americas for their suggestions. The research phase for this article was funded by the University of Chicago, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Fulbright Hays DDRA Program.

Calculating Pragmatism: The High Politics of the Banco Ejidal in Twentieth-century Mexico

  • Nicole Mottier (a1)

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