The dark side of the Revolution: The massacre of Chinese people in Mexico

In 1911, Mexican revolutionaries massacred Chinese people living in Torreón

The dark side of the Revolution: The massacre of Chinese people in Mexico
The massacre was deemed a hate crime - Photo: Vincent Yu/AP
English 20/11/2019 16:57 EL UNIVERSAL in English/Gretel Morales Mexico City Francisco Rodríguez Actualizada 16:57
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On May 15, 1911, around 303 Chinese people were massacred by maderista troops in Torreón, Coahuila during the Mexican Revolution; unfortunately, this wasn't an isolated incident.

On May 13, 1911, Francisco I. Madero's troops, a group of around 2,000, took Ciudad Juárez and Torreón two days later. The armed men then looted stores and decided to attack the Chinese community as a result of a growing xenophobic sentiment in northern Mexico.

On May 15, form 5:00 to 10 a.m., the revolutionary troops murdered at least 303 Chinese.


A picture, obtained through SMU library, shows some revolutionaries posing around the dead bodies.

Everything started years ago when hundreds of Chinese migrants arrived in the country to work in the construction of the railroad that would connect Ciudad Juárez to Mexico City.

The "Chinese problem," a racist term coined by Rodolfo Elias Calles, began in “1893 when Mexico and China signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce; under the treaty, Chinese had the same rights in Mexico.”

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Racism and xenophobia against the Chinese in Mexico

People from Coahuila grew jealous of the Chinese after they prospered after they opened restaurants, hotels, laundries, stores, a bank, and farms in the region. Mexicans often accused the Chinese of stealing their jobs and Sonora even banned the marriage between Mexicans and Chinese.

After the Torrerón massacre, other incidents were registered in Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Durango.

According to Charles C. Cumberland, “in 1915, Baja California Government subjected its Chinese to a special head tax, and the Mazatlan (Sinaloa) municipality ordered Orientals into ghettos.”

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Remembering the Chinese victims

After the massacre, the government led by Francisco I. Madero vowed to pay an MXN $3 million compensation to the community, nevertheless, Madero was murdered and the promise never became a reality.

In 2007 and 2008, there have been ceremonies to remember the victims in Torreón.

President López Obrador announced that in 2021, he will apologize for the massacre of Chinese people in Torreón.

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