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Casa del Obrero Mundial

Casa del Obrero Mundial

Casa del Obrero Mundial, an anarcho-syndicalist organization advocating working-class control of the means of production that led the way in mobilizing Mexican labor between 1911 and 1916. While violence grew in the countryside, Mexican workers joined unions on an unprecedented scale. Enabled by revolutionary zeal, unrest, and the weakness of the new state, they confronted employers and the new government of Francisco Madero with strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, and violence. The Casa grew out of small groups of anarchist intellectuals and artisans, such as the Mexican Typographic Confederation, and anarcho-syndicalist industrial workers to mobilize the working class. Formed in Mexico City in 1912 as the Casa del Obrero, by 1914 it could claim national standing and had adopted its formal name, becoming one of the most important entities of the revolutionary era.

The formation by 5,000 or more Casa members of the Red Battalions, which joined with the undermanned Constitutionalist Army during the Revolution, proved instrumental in the critically important victory over the forces of Francisco Villa in the battle of El Ebano, fought in late 1914 for control of Mexico's oil fields along the Gulf Coast. Fifteen hundred women members of the Casa, many of them textile workers, adopted the name Acratas (those opposed to all authority) and formed military nursing units offering essential support to the male combat units. By agreement with the Constitutionalist government, the Casa was to have an independent command staff and the exclusive right to organize workers in the areas that came under government control.

While never becoming part of the independent officer corps, the Casa did grow rapidly and comprised 150,000 members by early 1916. Following the Constitutionalist victory over the Villistas in 1915, the Casa and the new government quickly came into conflict. Military demobilization of the Casa in 1915 presaged general strikes in the spring and summer of 1916, before the Constitutionalist government of Venustiano Carranza used the regular army to crush and disband the Casa.

See alsoAnarchism and Anarchosyndicalism .


John M. Hart, Anarchism and the Mexican Working Class, 1860–1931 (1978), and Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Lear, John. Workers, Neighbors, and Citizens: The Revolution in Mexico City. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.

Robles Gómez, Jorge Alfredo, and Angel Luís Gómez. De la autonomía al corporativismo: Memoria cronológica del movimiento obrero en México, 1900–1980. Mexico, D.F.: El Atajo Ediciones, 1995.

                                   John Mason Hart

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