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Amalia Solórzano, D.E.P.

13 December 2008

Doña Amalia Solórzano Viuda de Cárdenas, matriarch of the Mexican left, passed away Friday at the age of 97.   She was Mexico’s Rose Kennedy AND Eleanor Roosevelt.

Doña Amalia, born in Michoacan in 1911, and educated in a convent school, married General Lazaro Cárdenas — then state Governor — in 1932. Despite her family’s objections, she and the General refused to add  a church ceremonial wedding  to the legal civil one.

Amalia Alejandra Solórzano Bravo, viuda de Cárdenas  (1911 - 2008)

Amalia Alejandra Solórzano Bravo, viuda de Cárdenas (1911 - 2008)

Although women of her time and social background were expected to spend their time playing bridge and shopping for shoes, as Primera Dama after her husband’s election to the Presidency in 1934, Doña Amalia made a point of dressing plainly (though she did like hats) and when not caring for her son Cuauhtemoc (likewise, the state’s governor, as well as the first elected Jefe de Gobierno of the Federal District, and very likely the winner in the 1988 Presidential elecction and “moral leader” of the PRD), she was active in social service and political work.

She was the “front woman” and devoted countless hours to the Mexican resettlement program for  Spanish Civil War orphans and displaced persons. Like her counterpart north of the border, Eleanor Roosevelt — using her limited “decorative” activities (women did not get the vote in Mexico until 1954) to bolster support for her husband’s political goals. She, with her husband’s support and encouragement, sometimes “out-Eleanored” Eleanor, being photographed on a picket line and bringing social issues raised by her large number of correspondents to the President’s personal attention.

Never particularly fond of jewelry, Doña Amalia’s very public donation of what jewels she owned — including her wedding ring — to the state funds being collected to pay for the oil expropriation in 1938 was not only a personal gesture, it was a not-so-subtle hint to the wealthy that they too were expected to support the revolutionary action.

Even after leaving Los Pinos (the Cardenas family were the first to live there, eschewing the fancier digs at Chaupultepec where the children — not just Lazaro and Cuauhtemoc, but the war orphans the family reared and those of the servants who Doña Amalia took care of, and expected to play around the Presidential compound), Doña Amalia continued to represent her husband on his various projects as Secretary of War during the “War Against Nazi-Fascist Aggression” and afterwords, when he was involved in various large scale state development projects. In addition, as “Ex-First Lady Cardenas” she represented the Mexican government at various international functions.

Doña Amalia also appeared regularly at political events, supporting the continued social role of the Party, and — after her family’s split with the PRI — was a regular on PRD platforms, as well as participating in public forums, and intellectual round-table discussions.

Despite the Cardenas family break with the PRI, Party chair Beatriz Paredes Rangel was among the pall-bearers, as were UNAM Rector José Narro Robles and Cuauthemoc Cardenas,  Carlos Slim and Diego Rivera’s daughter, Guadalupe Marín.   Parades eulogized Solórzano as a brilliant, intelligent woman and a patriot.

Notably absent was President Felipe Calderon.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 December 2008 5:48 pm

    Just to correct a couple of factual errors. The only son of Doña Amalia Solórzano and General Lázaro Cárdenas was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, three-time presidential candidate from and founder of the PRD. I assume the Lázaro you refer to as one of Doña Amalia’s sons is in fact, Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, son of Cuauhtémoc and grandson of the general and the recently deceased. Cárdenas Batel was governor of Michoacán from 2002 until February of 2008.
    Also, President Felipe Calderon was one of the first to arrive at the funeral home and accompanied the casket alongside Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.
    Keith Dannemiller

  2. 13 December 2008 8:10 pm

    Call it a “two-fer” error, Keith. I was thinking of Damaso Cardenas del Rio… a brother, not a son of General Cardenas del Rio. I’d meant to include the grandson, a fourth Cardenas to serve as Gov., but rewriting the sentence cut that out.

    Relying on the lefty press, I didn’t see any mention of Felipe Calderon. My apologies to the “presidente de facto”… and my thanks for the correction.

  3. Jesus Guerrero permalink
    27 October 2010 3:13 pm

    Por que no se sabe casi nada de la familia, es decir, los hermanos de Lazaro Cardenas Del Rio? Creo que todos habran tenido una vida muy interesante, pero no encuen tro casi nada de ellos.

  4. Tootsie permalink
    13 February 2012 9:28 pm

    Her name WAS NOT Amelia, but Amalia ! Please get your facts straight. You have too many errors.

  5. 3 September 2014 5:23 pm

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.


  1. Global Voices Online » Mexico: The Passing of Amalia Solórzano, Former First Lady
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