Before you grab your bags and get ready to enjoy this long weekend holiday, your little one would have indeed asked you what is celebrated on March 18th, either because he has homework about it or because they heard about it on the news.
On this date, the oil expropriation carried out by President Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938 is commemorated. It is an important day in the history of our country; teachers in primary school made you repeat it by heart, but what does it mean, and how can you explain it to your children?
What is oil expropriation?
On March 18th, 1938, President Cárdenas issued a decree, which is like a command, to expropriate the oil exploited by 17 oil companies that worked in Mexico (most of them were from England and the United States); in addition to this order, The Mexican government took away the permission of these companies to work with the oil.
Therefore, this natural resource became the property of the nation. This means that the government manages this natural resource, from taking it out of the ground to transforming it into products like gasoline and selling it.
This decision was made because the oil companies did not want to improve the conditions of their workers, who asked to work eight hours a day (they worked much longer) and be paid if they got sick, among other requests.
President Cárdenas explained that the order to take control of the oil was to defend the independence of Mexico since this natural resource is very important for the country’s development because products such as gasoline are generated from it, which serves for the cars to move. Therefore, this president considered that the government should manage the oil.
What is oil, and why is it important?
It is a black, viscous substance in the depths of the earth and is generated from the decomposition of the remains of animals and plants. It takes millions of years to form, so it is said to be a non-renewable resource; that is, it can run out because the oil we have now took a long time to form.
“This material is important because gasoline is generated from it, but it is also fundamental for the chemical industry since 60% of the chemical products we know are derived from oil: plastics, detergents, fertilizers, antifreeze (a greenish liquid that is used in cars), explosives, dyes, and many more”, explains Economipedia.
Its origin begins with the decomposition of organic substances produced by the action of microorganisms and continues mainly due to the increase in temperature, burial, and time (millions of years). For this reason, it is considered a non-renewable fossil resource.
Who was Lazaro Cardenas?
He was president of Mexico between 1934 and 1940. He was born in Michoacán in 1895. “During his government, he distributed land to peasants to be owners of the field where they worked. Other actions of his government were the expropriation of oil, the construction of highways, and the foundation of institutions such as the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the National Museum of History in Chapultepec, among others”, details the National Institute of Anthropology and History. His most significant contribution was to take control of oil, which remains to this day.
Get together with your rascal and learn what is celebrated on March 18th.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara