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Manuel Ávila Camacho
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45th President of Mexico

In office
December 1, 1940 – November 30, 1946
Preceded by Lázaro Cárdenas
Succeeded by Miguel Alemán Valdés
Personal details
Born (1897-04-24)April 24, 1897
Teziutlán, Puebla
Died October 13, 1955(1955-10-13) (aged 58)
Estado de México
Nationality Mexican
Political party Institutional Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s) Soledad Orozco
Religion Catholic

Manuel Ávila Camacho (April 24, 1897 – October 13, 1955) served as the President of Mexico from 1940 to 1946.

Early career

Manuel Ávila was born in Teziutlán, a small town in Puebla, to middle-class parents, Manuel Ávila Castillo and Eufrosina Camacho Bello. He had several siblings, among them a sister María Jovita Ávila Camacho and several brothers. Two of his brothers, Maximino Ávila Camacho and Rafael Ávila Camacho both served as governors of Puebla. Ávila did not receive a university degree, although he studied at the National Preparatory School. He joined the army in 1914 as a Second Lieutenant and reached the status of Colonel by 1920. In the same year, he served as the Chief of Staff of the state of Michoacán under Lázaro Cárdenas and became his close friend. In 1929, he fought under general Cárdenas against the Escobar Rebellion and, that same year, achieved the rank of Brigadier General. He was married to Soledad Orozco García, who was born in Zapopan, Jalisco. Soledad Orozco was one of the Orozcos of the State of Jalisco. She was born in 1904 and died in 1996.

After his military service, Ávila entered the public arena in 1933–1934 as the Official Mayor of the Secretariat of National Defense, and became Secretary of National Defense in 1937. Two years later, he was elected president of Mexico, after being appointed to represent his party. Ávila won a controversial presidential election over right-wing candidate Juan Andreu Almazán.

Presidential term

Manuel Ávila Camacho, in Monterrey, having dinner with U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Ávila was a professed Catholic, which was a change from his predecessors in the first half of the twentieth century who had been strongly anticlerical.[1]

Domestic Policy

Domestically, Ávila protected the working class, creating social security in 1943 and working to reduce illiteracy. He continued land reform and declared a rent freeze to benefit low-income citizens. He also promoted election reform, creating new requirements that made it impossible for communists to run. This was done by a new electoral law passed in 1946 which made it difficult for opposition parties of the far right and the far left to operate legally. The law established the following criteria that needed to be fulfilled by any political organization in order to be recognized as a political party:

  • must have at least 10.000 active members in 10 states;
  • must exist at least three years before elections;
  • must agree with the principles established in the constitution;
  • is prohibited from forming alliances or being subordinated to international organizations or foreign political parties.[2]

He was also responsible, on 18 January 1946, for renaming what had been the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM) to the name it carries today, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Ávila Camacho put an end to rational education.[3] Economically he pursued the country’s industrialization which only benefitted a small group and income inequality increased.[4] The war stimulated Mexican industry and its industrial sector grew by approximately 10% annually between 1940-1945 and Mexican raw-materials fueled US war industry.[5]

Foreign Policy

The first Braceros arriving in Los Angeles, Calfornia by train in 1942.==Source==Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

During his term, Ávila faced the difficulty of governing during World War II. After two of Mexico's ships (Potrero del Llano and Faja de Oro) carrying oil were destroyed by German submarines in the Gulf of Mexico,[6] Ávila declared war against the Axis powers on May 22, 1942. 15,000 Mexican soldiers fought in the war on a variety of fronts.[citation needed] Mexican participation in World War II was mainly limited to an Airborne squadron, the 201st (Escuadrón 201), to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. This squadron consisted of 300 men and after receiving training in Texas, was sent to the Philippines on March 27, 1945. On June 7, 1945 its missions started. By the end of the war, 5 Mexican soldiers had lost their lives in combat. But with its short participation in the war, Mexico belonged to the victorious nations and had thus gained the right to participate in the post-war international conferences.[7]

Furthermore, starting a period of friendship with the United States, Ávila cooperated in the war effort, providing his northern neighbour with 300,000 workers under the Bracero Program to replace some of the Americans who had left to fight in the war. Mexico also resumed diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and Soviet Union, which had been broken off during the presidency of his predecessor. In 1944, Mexico signed the United Nations Charter and the following year became the headquarters of the Inter-American Conference about War and Peace.

Conflicts with the United States, that existed in the decades before his presidential term, were resolved. Especially in the early years of World War II Mexican-US relations were excellent. The United States provided Mexico with financial aid for improvements on the railway system and the construction of the Pan American Highway. Moreover Mexican foreign debt was reduced.[8]

When his term ended in 1946, Ávila retired to work on his farm. Ávila passed away on October 13, 1955.


  1. Tuck, Jim, Mexico's marxist guru: Vicente Lombardo Toledano (1894–1968) Mexconnect, 9 October 2008
  2. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México II. Pearson Educación. p. 250. 
  3. Beezley, William (2010). The Oxford History of Mexico. Oxford University Press. pp. 499. 
  4. Beezley, William (2010). The Oxford History of Mexico. Oxford University Press. pp. 501. 
  5. Beezley, William (2010). The Oxford History of Mexico. Oxford University Press. pp. 500. 
  6. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  7. Delgado de Cantú, Gloria M. (2003). Historia de México II. Pearson Educación. pp. 257–258. 
  8. Beezley, William (2010). The Oxford History of Mexico. Oxford University Press. pp. 537. 
  • Camp, Roderic A. Mexican Political Biographies. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona, 1982.
Political offices
Preceded by
Lázaro Cárdenas
President of Mexico
Succeeded by
Miguel Alemán Valdés

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