THE rumors of war which disturbed Europe in the summer of 1914 left Mexico unconcerned. She had too many troubles at home just then to be bothered by events overseas. Following the overthrow of the Diaz régime some years before, she had been shaken by revolution; and in April 1914, just a few months before the beginning of the World War, she had undergone the further experience of military intervention by the United States, culminating in the occupation of Vera Cruz by American forces. In mid-July, on the eve of the world conflict, her provisional President, General Victoriano Huerta, was forced from office by pressure from Washington, and the question of his successor precipitated further civil strife. In Mexican minds these matters naturally outweighed the assassination in far-off Sarajevo or the invasion of Belgium.
A quarter of a century rolled by, and when in the summer of 1939 war alarms again sounded across the Atlantic the Mexican nation was all ears. The passing years had brought great changes; the country was now tranquil, and it also had more at stake in Europe than in 1914. The Government of President Cárdenas had recently converted the petroleum industry into a state monopoly -- and petroleum was not only the nation's third most important industry, it was a necessity for the belligerents. In spite of the hostility to Nazism and Fascism avowed by the Cárdenas régime, Germany and Italy were taking approximately two thirds of Mexico's petroleum exports -- the Reich alone accounting for nearly one half of the total. It was evident that if a war should drive the tankers of either of these good customers off the seas Mexico would feel the pinch unless she could find other buyers; for petroleum exports are to that country what cotton exports are to our southern states.
It seemed probable, therefore, that the war would have a more immediate and direct effect on Mexico than on any other country of Latin America. To the United
Loading, please wait...