When the Cactus Blooms: A Century of Strikes in Mexico


1 June 2012


Volume 1 – Number

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Richard Roman and Edur Velasco



There has been an underestimation of strikes in Mexico in several recent important studies due to serious methodogical flaws. As well there has been a tendency to a one-sided view of the role of the state in the determination of strikes. The exclusive emphasis by many scholars on the state’s determination of strikes in Mexico neglects the activity of workers themselves and the influence of economic cycles and international events on the development of strikes and strike waves. By measuring workers’ protests in a more complete manner, we demonstrate the serious inadequacies in many existing studies. By conceptualizing the roots of workers’ protests in a more holistic manner, we seek to provide alternate interpretations. The first part of the paper focuses on these issues of measurement and interpretation. The middle sections look at the historical development of strikes over a long time frame. And, in the last part, we examine the new strategies of capital and the state to prevent strikes in Mexico’s new period of continental economic integration. It also raises the prospects for the renewal of workers’ struggles given Mexico’s popular traditions of solidarity and the relentless character of the neoliberal assault on workers’ rights, dignity, and well-being.


Strikes, Mexico, Long time frame, Strategies to prevent strikes