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Río Blanco Strike

Río Blanco Strike

Río Blanco Strike, an incident that started at the Río Blanco Cotton Mill near Río Blanco, Veracruz, in January 1907. In December 1906 textile factory workers in the neighboring state of Puebla went on strike to protest the owners' implementation of a new, unified set of regulations that affected all aspects of mill hands' lives. Laborers in Veracruz, including those at Río Blanco, aided their striking colleagues in Puebla through donations of monies and foodstuffs. In retaliation, owners in Veracruz implemented a lockout to prevent the flow of aid and to break the local labor organization, the Gran Confederación de Obreros Libres (Grand Confederation of Free Workers—GCOL).

In early January 1907, unprecedented mediation by President Porfirio Díaz (1876–1880, 1884–1911) resulted in an agreement to end the conflict. Nevertheless, at Río Blanco, many workers rejected the pact and determined not to return to work. Meanwhile, resentment over the actions of the French-owned company store, which had refused credit during the lockout, grew. Many families were without food, and payday was a full week away. When laborers converged on the store, shots were fired from inside, prompting its sacking and burning. Violence soon spread to the whole Orizaba region, and rural and regular federal troops hunted down protesters, executing many on the spot. Over a three-day period, 7-9 January 1907, at least fifty to seventy workers died. Subsequently, the Río Blanco strike, although strictly speaking not a strike but a revolt, became a nationalist symbol representing the long historical struggles for social justice and for the economic independence of the Mexican nation.

See alsoCotton; Labor Movements.


Rodney D. Anderson, Outcasts in Their Own Land: Mexican Industrial Workers, 1906–1911 (1976), pp. 137-171.

John M. Hart, Anarchism & the Mexican Working Class, 1860–1931 (1978), pp. 93-100.

Ciro F. S. Cardoso, Francisco G. Hermosillo, and Salvador Hernández, La clase obrera en la historia de México (1980), pp. 139-186.

Additional Bibliography

García Díaz, Bernardo. Textiles del valle de Orizaba (1880–1925): Cinco ensayos de historia sindical y social. Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana, Centro de Investigaciones Históricas, 1990.

Koth, Karl B. Waking the Dictator: Veracuz, the Struggle for Federalism and the Mexican Revolution, 1870–1927. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2002.

                                    David G. LaFrance

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