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In his capacity as President-elect of Colombia, Alfonso López Pumarejo traveled to Mexico in July 1934—when Lázaro Cárdenas was making a run for the presidency—to learn more about recent Mexican social and political innovations. Enthused by what he saw, the Colombian president announced that he would introduce the spirit of the Mexican Revolution into his country when he got home, as mentioned in the news report included in this document.
Alfonso López Pumarejo (1886–1959) was a member of the Colombian Liberal Party and a representative of the party’s most progressive wing. On the whole, historians agree that his was the most advanced Colombian administration of the twentieth century. He made some notable contributions, such as legalizing and promoting the creation of workforce centers; he instituted a new approach to land distribution; he introduced an educational reform that lowered the rate of illiteracy. All these initiatives were met with fierce opposition from the conservatives, the church, and the traditional wing of his own party; this opposition eventually influenced attitudes toward mural painting and mural painters.
López Pumarejo’s administration (1934–38) followed Mexico’s example and promoted mural painting on public buildings. The best examples are the frescos painted by the Colombian painter Pedro Nel Gómez (1899–1984) at the Medellín City Hall from 1935 to 1937, and those painted by Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo (1910–1970) at the Capitol in Bogotá in 1938.
López Pumarejo later acknowledged that Mexico was making “extraordinary efforts to bring the people into national life” (“El doctor López concede su primera entrevista en Medellín” [Dr. López Grants his First Interview in Medellín], El Espectador, July 30, 1934, p. 2). That idea, to include the people, means giving them their freedom, which López Pumarejo mentioned in another speech in which he explained that the Mexican Revolution had to destroy the intellectual barriers established by feudal oligarchies between them and the people (“Discurso del doctor López” [Speech by Dr. López], El Tiempo, July 7, 1934, p. 2).