The Failed Conspiracy That Would Have Altered Mexico’s History

Former president Lazaro Cardenas was set to be assassinated, as part of a plan hatched in Santa Barbara, California

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The Failed Conspiracy That Would Have Altered Mexico’s History
Lázaro Cárdenas fungió como presidente de México entre 1934 a 1940. /GETTY IMAGES

Only months after the oil expropriation in Mexico in 1938, an event that laid the foundation for the development of the country, a conspiracy was hatched in California to assassinate the then President Lazaro Cardenas somewhere in Baja California, a plan that was never carried out to perfection.

Declassified documents provided to La Opinión by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), show that behind the failed attack on Cardenas, whose government (from 1934-1940) has been praised for its social commitment, were Mexican former presidents Plutarco Elias Calles and Abelardo Rodríguez.

Two representatives from the British oil industry who lived in Beverly Hills were also involved.

This assassination attempt was concocted by enemies Cardenas made after the nationalization of the oil industry and for having different ideas than Calles and Rodriguez, who went into exile in California.

Artículo del ex presidente mexicano Lázaro Cárdenas que guardó el FBI
Artículo del ex presidente mexicano Lázaro Cárdenas que guardó el FBI

“An individual named Torres is reportedly engaged to do the actual gun running to Mexico as weapons are to be placed on houses on which point to the attack against the President’s life will take place,” a report by the federal agency cites on June 30, 1939.

In a hotel in Santa Barbara, “they have conspired to kill the president while he’s in Baja California,” a visit that was planned for the end of June this year, says an FBI report.

In a separate statement, it is noted that it was not safe to allow Cardenas to come to California.

The plot was reported to the FBI by Bruno Newman, the then attorney at the General Consulate of Mexico in Los Angeles, and Adolfo de la Huerta, who served in the Consulate as inspector general.

It is not clear if Cardenas, who died of cancer in 1970, made that trip to Baja California.

Cardenas’ Son Speaks

Informe del FBI en el que se advirtió del plan para asesinar al ex presidente mexicano Lázaro Cárdenas
Informe del FBI en el que se advirtió del plan para asesinar al ex presidente mexicano Lázaro Cárdenas

Cuauhtémoc Cardenas, son of the former president, reviewed for three months the 61 pages that the FBI provided to this newspaper and said that he did not find evidence of the assassination attempt in its archives.

“I have no knowledge about some threat on a possible visit to the US as president, and there is no reference in his personal documents,” said the former presidential candidate.

In addition to the oil expropriation, Cardenas was praised for creating common land in the field, providing asylum to Spanish exiles, contributing to education and for establishing the foundations of what became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which his son Cuauhtémoc left several years later.

Professor Octavio Pescador was not surprised that they have plotted to kill Cardenas in California.

“He knew everything that he did was a great personal risk,” said Pescador.

A “Communist”

Un artículo sobre el ex presidente Lázaro Cárdenas que el FBI compiló en 1954
Un artículo sobre el ex presidente Lázaro Cárdenas que el FBI compiló en 1954

FBI reports, consisting of newspaper clippings, cables from its agents and unidentified informant communications dating from 1939-1963, also state that Cardenas was a character who had to be closely monitored by the government of this country due to his “communist ideals”.

“It is explained in the context of the Cold War, communism and the Cuban Revolution,” says Pescador. “The United States was worried that a charismatic and respected figure in Mexico, and the world, would sympathize with ideologies and the movement that allowed the growth of communism,” he said.

About this material compiled by the FBI, Cuauhtémoc Cardenas emphasized that is public information that was released by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with a Machiavellian purpose.

“It seems to me that much of the documents are CIA reports to invent risks or ghosts and justify their presence in Mexico,” said the current government official in Mexico City.

There are documents in the National Archives of the United States that expose the CIA monitoring of Cardenas’ and his son’s activities for years due fear that their “far left” would take power in Mexico.