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Analysis

Legacy of the 1906 Cananea Strike

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 13:11

The Cananea Consolidated Copper Company (CCCC) was founded in Sonora by American businessman William Cornell Greene on September 30, 1899, to exploit copper deposits in the region. Greene owned the town of Cananea, as well as the mine itself and the surrounding farmland and forest. CCCC was run with over 7,600 employees, of which 5,400 were Mexican and the rest were American.

On June 1, 1906, for the first time in Mexico’s history, Mexican miners went on strike after the company announced that it would pay wages based on piecework rather than by the hour. This was only the tip of the iceberg for the Mexican miners, who believed they were already subjected to unjust labor conditions and very low wages. Some of the workers’ pleas included the introduction of a minimum wage of MX$5 and an eight hour working day, as well as employing a larger number of Mexican workers.

The strike was greeted with violent repression by the company and the Mexican government. Mexican troops and Arizona Rangers arrived at the scene with orders to crush the strike. In the end, 30 Mexicans and six Americans were killed, and dozens of workers were injured in the conflict. The workers’ leaders were arrested and held in the prisons of the San Juan de Ulúa fortress, in the state of Veracruz. Even though the strike ended with the defeat of those who had instigated it, it is considered to have triggered the Mexican Revolution, and Cananea has been regarded as the birthplace of the Mexican labor movement ever since.