Industry and Revolution

Industry and Revolution

Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Industry and Revolution
    Book Description:

    Industrial workers, not just peasants, played an essential role in the Mexican Revolution. Tracing the introduction of mechanized industry into the Orizaba Valley, Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato argues convincingly that the revolution cannot be understood apart from the Industrial Revolution, and thus provides a fresh perspective on both transformations.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07433-0
    Subjects: Business, History, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[ix])
  3. [Map]
    (pp. [x]-[x])
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    At the end the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the Orizaba Valley experienced two major revolutions that would radically transform what had been the way of life in the valley for as long as memory could tell. The first was the introduction of mechanized industries, the railroad, and other innovations that had been developing in the world since the Industrial Revolution. The second was the social revolution that took place during the second decade of the twentieth century in Mexico, which had profound roots and consequences in this region. This book explores how these revolutions came about,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Mexican Textile Industry: An Overview
    (pp. 5-38)

    The long and exceptional history of Mexico’s textile industry winds through a complex and intriguing historical landscape. Very few countries in the world share with Mexico such a long and continuous history of textile manufacturing. Cotton spinning and backstrap weaving were widespread in pre-Hispanic America and continued uninterrupted after the arrival of the Spaniards. Early in the sixteenth century, a new technology and organization of production was developed for the manufacturing of woolens: obrajes, large workshops that vertically integrated every part of woolen cloth production, employing twenty to a hundred workers, usually in some form of coerced labor. Mexico is...

  6. CHAPTER 2 CIVSA: The Nature of the Firm
    (pp. 39-64)

    The Compañía Industrial Veracruzana S.A. (CIVSA) is an excellent example of those companies that experienced the Porfirian revolution in distribution and production. On November 24, 1896, several Barcelonnette entrepreneurs—Alejandro Reynaud, Eugenio Signoret, Sebastián Robert, Fermín Manuel, Paulino Richaud, and José Jacques—met in Mexico City, under the leadership of Alejandro Reynaud, to sign the articles of incorporation of the Compañía Industrial Veracruzana S.A., a joint-stock limited-liability corporation. The corporation’s purpose was the creation and operation of a factory for the spinning, weaving, and printing of cotton and other fibers near the city of Orizaba. The corporation also dealt with...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Nature of the Labor Force
    (pp. 65-86)

    Industrial production requires more than businesspeople and investors. It needs labor. “The human engagement with machinery gives both labor and the machine their meaning, . . . [and] they are incomprehensible except together and historically.”¹ Who were the workers who provided labor for the cotton textile mills of the Orizaba Valley?

    Porfirian publications show the perceptions held about workers during that period, including the elite’s stereotype about Mexican workers—as uneducated, irrational, irresponsible, and prone to alcoholism. Even the articles that defended workers shared this view. One of them explained, for instance, that the reason company stores were harmful to...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Labor Organization during the Porfiriato
    (pp. 87-115)

    Textile workers from the Orizaba mills began to organize and attempt to change their working and living conditions almost as soon as the regions’ looms began running. Because many of the workers who came to the Orizaba Valley had previously been employed in manufacturing jobs, they brought with them an organizational experience that quickly bore its first fruits. Thus factories started experiencing strikes very shortly after opening. A strike broke out in San Lorenzo in 1881, the year of its inauguration, in Cerritos in September 1884, in Río Blanco in 1898, and in Santa Rosa in 1899, when the factory...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Textile Workers and the Mexican Revolution
    (pp. 116-148)

    The final years of the decade of 1900 were marked by the political problem that the elections of 1910 posed. The question of presidential succession took an unexpected turn when, in an interview with James Creelman in 1908, Díaz promised that he would not stand for reelection and would support free elections instead, opening the way for the rise of political opposition movements. When it became clear that he would not keep his word about leaving the presidency, the crucial issue in dispute became who was going to be the vice president, since he would most likely succeed the 80-year-old...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Labor and the First Postrevolutionary Regimes
    (pp. 149-177)

    On May 1, 1917, Venustiano Carranza took office as president of Mexico, after having been elected by a majority. This was also Mexico’s first day under its new Constitution, which the New York Times called “the most liberal and advanced ever attempted.”¹ Thousands of people acclaimed Carranza as he drove from the National Palace to the Chamber of Deputies to take the oath to support the new Constitution.

    Workers had high expectations for Article 123, but a long road had to be traversed before it was put into practice, even in regions like the Orizaba Valley where many of the...

  11. CHAPTER 7 A Revolution in Work: Real Wages and Working Hours
    (pp. 178-199)

    How did the Mexican Revolution affect workers’ real wages? We can begin to answer this question by looking at the evolution of CIVSA workers’ nominal and real wages from 1900 to 1929. Two major changes took place during these years in terms of the variables that affect wages. The first was a radical change in the degree of organization of labor, passing from a situation in which there were no unions to one in which unions became powerful institutions. The second was a considerable deterioration of the Mexican economy between 1913 and 1917 as a consequence of the Revolutionary War....

  12. CHAPTER 8 A Revolution in Daily Life: Community and Living Conditions in the Mill Towns
    (pp. 200-232)

    Workers who arrived in the Orizaba Valley at the end the nineteenth century to work in Río Blanco and Santa Rosa when the mills had just opened found that there was nothing else around except what the companies themselves had built and owned. During the early years, they were company towns in a strict sense of the term. The companies settled in a space that was not only physically, but also institutionally, empty. The presence of the state was feeble, and the settlements were too recent for a market for goods and services to have developed. Managers undertook most public...

  13. CHAPTER 9 The Impact of the Mexican Revolution on CIVSA’s Performance
    (pp. 233-268)

    The changes in CIVSA’s profitability, productivity levels, and international competitiveness from 1900 to 1930 can provide a better understanding of the factors that affected its performance throughout this period, as well as the longer-term consequences. And a look at the still-broader picture can indicate how the Mexican Revolution affected the textile industry.

    When the Santa Rosa mill started operating in 1899, several of its departments were still unfinished, and construction of the mill was to continue for several years. From 1902 to 1913, production of cloth and sales fluctuated around twenty million meters annually (see Figure 9.1). Production increased at...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 269-276)

    This has been the story of workers who made a revolution without taking up arms. Because they wanted to keep working in the mills, although not under the same conditions, they did not leave their jobs but fought and won important battles on the shop floor and in the mill towns. They organized in unions and obtained substantial improvements to their living and working conditions. Moreover, their organizations became strong enough to promote important institutional changes in the way capital and labor related, not only in their hometowns but also throughout the whole nation.

    Because Mexican industrial workers were of...

  15. Abbreviations
    (pp. 277-278)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 279-334)
  17. Archives and Periodicals Consulted
    (pp. 335-336)
  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 337-340)
  19. Index
    (pp. 341-351)