At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, Mexico was in full economic boom. The country was industrializing due to the discovery and subsequent exploitation of oil. These circumstances favored foreign investment in the country and its modernization. However, political and social conditions were unstable. The working class did not have a privileged and protected position. In general, workers were trampled and treated like slaves who had no right to claim economic and labor improvements. Rio Blanco Strike
These conditions led to the uprising of a large number of workers in a textile company located in Veracruz, Mexico. This uprising took place on January 7, 1907, the date on which a strike began at the Río Blanco factory . This strike was intended to enforce the rights of workers, the improvement of working conditions and the increase in salaries. Next, in this article, we invite you to learn more details about this strike and both its causes and consequences, as well as its outcome.
Background of the Rio Blanco Strike
The textile company was an industry that was an important part of Mexico’s economic boom during the Porfiriato era . The Rio Blanco textile factory was the largest in the country and had a large number of workers . The workers worked in precarious conditions and the daily working hours were around 14 hours a day.
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Furthermore, workers were only allowed a few minutes to consume food and the wages were quite low. They were only paid 35 cents for a day’s work . Other injustices that were committed in the workplace, was the discount that workers received in their pay when the work machines broke down. These circumstances created an atmosphere of general discontent among all the workers who obtained their income from the textile company. In general, they felt that they were being exploited without obtaining any kind of profit despite the success of the industry. Rio Blanco Strike
Seeking a solution to the problem, on April 1, 1906, the workers formed an organization called “Great Circle of Free Workers.” This was led by Juan Olivar and José Neira Gómez who were part of the Mexican liberal party. This organization advocated for better working conditions, better wages and 8-hour days. This same organization founded a newspaper called “Social Revolution” through which they were able to highlight the injustices and discontent of the workers. These antecedents of labor abuse caused the uprising and strike of all the workers of the textile company.
Development of the Rio Blanco Strike
Seeking to be heard, the workers sought the mediation of President Porfirio Díaz . Even so, the government leaned in favor of the entrepreneurs. On January 4, 1907, the government, through a decree, ordered the workers to return to their jobs on January 7 of the same year .
In this order, no type of contribution was made in favor of the workers, since they had to return to work without any type of complaint and strikes were prohibited. Therefore, this presidential decree was in accordance with the 14-hour workdays, the same salary and the conditions imposed by each company. Thus, on January 7, approximately 2,000 workers rose up in front of the Río Blanco textile factory , preventing access to anyone who had the intention of complying with the presidential mandate to start working that day. This uprising caused the bosses to close the factory, so the angry crowd headed towards the ray store. Rio Blanco Strike
These stores were located near the facilities of the companies, which belonged to the owners of the factories and the workers were forced to buy in them because they were paid by means of vouchers or coins minted by the same companies. They were called that way because the workers did not know how to write and their signature was made with a line. The workers felt a great resentment towards these stores because of the high prices and the continuous traps they were subjected to in them. It was there that a confrontation with the authorities began that culminated in the looting of the ray shop and later it was set on fire .
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Results of the Rio Blanco Strike
The frantic mob went to the jail where they released the prisoners present, at the same time they blocked the Tram tracks, paralyzing the service . In addition, they cut power lines and looted different houses belonging to wealthy people in the town. These events took place in the towns of Nogales and Santa Rosa.
In the midst of the events, soldiers belonging to the 13th Battalion intervened in order to control the angry crowd . Their intervention was violent, they started firing at the maddened crowd. As the strikers returned to Río Blanco, more federals intercepted them and began shooting indiscriminately at men, women, and children . Rio Blanco Strike
Although there is no exact record of the events, it is estimated that the deaths range between 400 to 800 people . Some witnesses to such events assured that during two days railway platforms filled with dozens of bodies were observed. On the other hand, a large number of workers between men and women were imprisoned due to criminal acts and rebellion. This uprising was the result of bad corporate management, in which employees and their workforce were abused . This excessive mistreatment was supported by President Porfirio Díaz, who was a dictator and gave concessions to big businessmen in order to contribute to the wealth of his dictatorship.
In order to put an end to the events that shook Río Blanco , the leaders of such a movement, led by Ricardo Moreno and Manuel Juárez, were executed . Others who escaped were pursued and sought in the mountains and in the various workers’ houses. Rio Blanco Strike
Finally, the Porfirio government gave a banquet to foreign businessmen affected by the uprisings in order to compensate for the damage to their assets. Subsequently, on January 9, 1907, work activities were resumed without any kind of solution to the labor abuses to which the workers were subjected. So it can be said that the simple consequence of this strike was the repression by the government of the dictator Díaz.