Why is Oil Expropriation Day celebrated in Mexico on March 18?

Mexicans recollect Oil Expropriation Day (Día de la Expropiación Petrolera) as the day that the nation’s oil fields were nationalized on March 18, 1938.

The Mexican oil confiscation (Spanish: expropiación petrolera) was the nationalization of all petroleum stores, facilities, and foreign oil organizations in Mexico on March 18, 1938. As per Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917, President Lázaro Cárdenas announced that all mineral and oil reserves found within Mexico have a place with “the nation”, i.e., the national government.

The Mexican government set up a state-possessed petroleum organization, Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX. For a brief period, this measure caused an international boycott of Mexican products in the next years, particularly by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, however with the outbreak of World War II and the union between Mexico and the Allied forces, the debates with privately-owned companies over compensation were resolved. The anniversary, March 18, is presently a Mexican civic holiday.

On March 18, 1938, President Cárdenas left on the seizure of all oil resources and facilities by the state, nationalizing the U.S. also, Anglo-Dutch (Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company) working organizations. Two hours before illuminating his cabinet regarding his choice, he made the declaration on the radio to the remainder of the nation. After five days, a horde of 200,000 (as indicated by the press) mobilized in the zócalo in support of Cárdenas’ activity. On April 12, 1938, a horde of thousands of all classes assembled before the Palacio de Bellas Artes to make donations to pay the obligation to foreign organizations. Donations changed from chickens to jewelry.

On June 7, 1938, President Cárdenas gave an announcement making Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), with exclusive rights over investigation, extraction, refining, and commercialization of oil in Mexico. On June 20, PEMEX began operations.

A few Mexicans in the oil and gas industry celebrate Oil Expropriation Day with occasions to honor the sovereignty and national ownership for oil resources.


Dan Zinman

Dan Zinman started his career as an astronomer and college professor and quickly expanded into popularizing the understanding of science and scientific discovery. He did this through writing books, essays, and articles. He is contributing by writing news articles for
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