History, The Calles Years
Maximato, Partido Nacional Revolucionario, Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Cristero Rebellion, Viva Cristo Rey
President Calles continued Obregon’s land and education policies and cut the army’s budget to free money for social needs. He also rehabilitated Mexican finances, instituted an educational program, and succeeded in adjusting the dispute with the foreign oil companies. In carrying out religious reforms, however, Calles provoked considerable opposition; relations between the church and the Mexican government became severely strained. The church resisted the placing of primary education under secular supervision, the required registration of priests, the expulsion of foreign-born priests, and the closing of 73 convents.
In 1926 a general religious strike suspended all public religious services. In what came to be known as the Cristero Rebellion, Catholic insurgents burned schools, dynamited troop trains, and even murdered rural schoolteachers. The states of Jalisco, Michoacan, and Colima echoed with the cry, “Viva Cristo Rey” (Long Live Christ the King). The tension was lessened largely through the mediation of Dwight W. Morrow, who became U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1927. The Mexican government eventually compromised on some of the most anticlerical measures. At least 90,000 Mexicans died during the three-year conflict.
Presidential succession again resulted in a crisis after Obregon was assassinated on July 17, 1928, at a dinner to celebrate his reelection. Calles devised a solution in which he would effectively run the country through a series of puppet presidents. He established an official party, the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, or PNR, known in English as the National Revolutionary Party. The PNR was the forerunner of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI, known in English as the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The PRI has dominated Mexican politics since its formation. Calles became known as the undisputed Jefe Maximo, or Maximum Chief, of Mexico and his period of rule via puppet presidents was known as the Maximato.
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