Plutarco Elias Calles
Plutarco Elias Calles was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928, and remained its de facto ruler until 1934. He was an important figure in the Mexican Revolution, occupying various posts in his native Sonora and the federal government before reaching the presidency. A self-declared atheist and militant anti-clericalist, Calles pushed the draconian application of constitutional provisions that dramatically expanded state involvement in religious affairs and effectively ended freedom of worship for Catholics. This prompted a large-scale rebellion in central Mexico, which became the Cristero War (1926-9) and ultimately cost approximately 90,000 lives. Calles negotiated with the Catholic Church to put an end to the conflict, but the persecution of clergy remained the norm throughout his tenure. He established the Mexican National Party, which later became the PRI and governed Mexico until 2000. However, Calles was effectively ousted from power and exiled by his successor Lazaro Cardenas in 1936.