The relationship between Mexico and China during the regime of Porfirio Díaz illuminates several aspects of Mexican history in this period. It emphasizes the preoccupation of the country’s political elite with economic development, as well as the development model the elite favored, and the difficulties in implementing it. It illustrates the conflicts which sometimes resulted from the pursuit of development—conflicts between that goal and the elite’s racism, conflicts between Mexico and the United States, and social cleavages which became clearer after 1910.

The trans-Pacific galleon trade of the colonial period supplied luxury goods to Mexico, resulted in the immigration of thousands of Chinese, and helped to establish the peso as a major Chinese currency.1 The trade ended in 1811, but after independence many Mexican leaders sought a revived China trade as a means of stimulating the country’s stagnant economy.2 Although there was no trade of any significance, a few Chinese emigrated to Mexico before 1876, and at least one attempt was made to promote such emigration.3 More significant, however, to Mexico’s future relationship with China, was the emergence in the half century after independence of a consensus on development, shared by most of the nation’s political elite.

The major features of the consensus were that Mexico was potentially rich, and that its potential could be realized through the establishment of order and security, development of a transportation system, elimination of institutional obstacles to development, and successful promotion of immigration.4 The latter policy would swell the labor force, expand existing markets and create new ones, populate isolated areas, and alleviate the problem of localism. Colonists would also teach the Mexican people new production methods and bring much-needed capital. Beginning shortly after independence, successive governments made numerous attempts to promote immigration.5 These attempts focused almost exclusively on European immigration, and they were uniformly unsuccessful.

Although the regimes of Benito Juárez and Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada began to implement the development consensus after 1867, substantial progress was made only after the establishment of the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. Between 1876 and 1884, Díaz and his successor, Manuel González, successfully promoted the development of transportation and mining, and took important steps toward regularizing public finances. However, their efforts to promote immigration bore little fruit.

The failure of innumerable colonization efforts between 1824 and 1884 caused some Mexican leaders to reassess the emphasis on promoting European immigration. In his 1876-77 report to the Mexican Congress, Development Minister Vicente Riva Palacio noted that the stimulation of European immigration was hindered by the government’s lack of funds and the nation’s lack of a transportation network. But, more importantly, “while the masses remain unaccustomed to the level of civilization of advanced countries, . . . colonization will not be for Mexico what it has been for other peoples.” Europeans would not accept the lifestyle of the Mexican laborer. Furthermore, European immigrants wished to settle near population centers, where they were not needed.6

A logical conclusion was that non-European immigrants might be more suitable to Mexico’s needs, and this conclusion was first publicized by Matías Romero. A prominent member of the new generation of Liberals who rose to power after 1856, Romero was Mexico’s minister to the United States from 1863 to 1867 and finance minister from 1868 to 1872 and 1877 to 1879. In 1882, he returned to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, where he served for most of the remainder of his life. He was a key figure in the promotion of Mexico’s economic development.

Between 1872 and 1876, Romero devoted himself to coffee growing in Soconusco. His efforts were not very successful, partly due to Guatemalan hostility toward him, but he remained convinced of the agricultural potential of the tierra caliente.7 His difficulties in securing adequate labor in Soconusco prompted him to write a lengthy analysis of the immigration issue, which appeared in the Mexico City press in August 1875.8 In it, Romero noted the difficulties of promoting European immigration, and concluded that Europeans who did immigrate would be attracted to the temperate highlands. While such immigration would be beneficial, he argued, “[I]t is undeniable that where we most urgently need immigrants is on our coasts, both because they are the least populated and because they produce the agricultural products which bring the best prices abroad. . . .” Europeans would not settle there because of the unhealthy climate, nor would Indians willingly migrate there. Romero was speaking from experience when he noted, “Those who have undertaken enterprises on our coasts know well that either they have been forced to abandon them or they have to reduce them to a very small scale for lack of labor.”

Romero then revealed his solution to this dilemma:

It seems to me that the only colonists who could establish themselves or work on our coasts are Asians, coming from climates similar to ours, primarily China. The great population of that vast empire, the fact that many of them are agriculturalists, the relatively low wages they earn, and the proximity of our coast to Asia, mean that Chinese immigration would be the easiest and most convenient for both our coasts.

This is not an idle dream. Chinese immigration has been going on for years, and wherever it has occurred prudently, the results have been favorable.

Without the recent importation of Chinese coolies, British Guiana, Cuba, and Peru “would not have achieved the degree of agricultural development that they have,” he asserted.9 To those who “may find Chinese immigration anathema” on racial grounds, Romero responded, “[I]f proprietors of lands on our coasts were offered Chinese laborers, not only would they not reject them, but many would actively seek them, and this alone will suffice to demonstrate the desirability of Chinese immigration.”

To implement his suggestion, Romero proposed sending an agent to China,

specifically charged with studying everything pertaining to the immigration. . . . It would be most desirable for our agent to carry credentials vesting in him some diplomatic status . . ., since his efforts to secure immigrants should have the support of that government. Peru maintains a representative at the court in Peking, and we would gain much by accrediting our own there, not only better to carry out immigration projects, but also to promote commercial relations . . ..

The Mexican government might bring in the first 500 workers, and if that experiment proved successful, proprietors could then take over the process.

In 1876, Romero published an article entitled “Conveniencia de enviar una legación mexicana a China y al Japón,” in which he repeated many of these points and added a lengthy discussion of the advantages to the Mexican peso of establishing commercial relations with those countries.10 While there is no indication that Romero attempted to implement these recommendations when he returned to the Finance Ministry under Porfirio Díaz, he doubtless repeated his arguments in government deliberations. His writings influenced the thinking of the nation’s elite. And after he returned to Washington in 1882, he played a major role in the establishment of ties between Mexico and China. Support for Romero’s suggestions was manifested in 1877, when the Development Ministry circulated a questionnaire asking what sort of immigration each region needed. Several communities included Chinese in their responses.11

No efforts were made to establish links with China or promote Chinese immigration during Díaz’s first term. The limited resources available for implementing the development consensus were channeled elsewhere. After 1880, however, Manuel González and his indefatigable development minister, Carlos Pacheco, pursued the program with greater vigor.12 At this point, the first efforts were made to establish contacts with China. In March 1881, the Development Ministry wrote Foreign Minister Ignacio Mariscal that “[w]ith the concessions for railroads to the Pacific soon to be granted, this Ministry believes that the moment has arrived to establish commercial relations with the empires of China and Japan.” Increased trade there would increase the demand for the peso, which was depreciating in Europe.13 Mariscal replied that the Foreign Ministry hoped to appoint consular agents in both countries, but that in the meantime the best way “to promote and stimulate [trade]” was for the Development Ministry to encourage the establishment of “one or several steamship lines” serving Asian ports. He recommended government subsidies for such lines.14

Throughout 1882, Mariscal also supported Romeros efforts to establish contacts with Chinese and Japanese diplomats in Washington.15 Romero exchanged gifts with the Chinese minister, and supplied him with translations of the 1875 and 1876 articles on Chinese immigration.16

Meanwhile, Pacheco’s Development Ministry was pursuing the course suggested by Mariscal, and the result was the organization of the Mexican Pacific Navigation Company. In March 1884, it signed a contract with the Development Ministry to conduct regular voyages between Mexico and the Orient.17 The company was guaranteed a subsidy for each voyage completed and an additional subsidy for each Asian worker imported. While all parties doubtless hoped that important trade between Mexico and Asia would quickly materialize, it did not, and from the outset the key to the company’s success became the transportation of Chinese workers.

The appearance of the Mexican Pacific Navigation Company resulted in a complex diplomatic controversy between Mexico, Great Britain, and China, which illustrates how little progress had been made in establishing ties between Mexico and China during the first eight years of the Porfiriato. Efforts of a company ship to board Chinese passengers in Hong Kong in the latter part of 1884 were blocked by British officials. The company appealed to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, which instructed Mariscal, now his country’s representative in London, to intercede on the company’s behalf.18 Mariscal’s efforts failed, in part because of Chinese misgivings about the conditions of its citizens in a country where it had no diplomatic or consular representation.19 Eventually, Mexico went so far as to agree to permit British diplomats to represent Chinese interests in Mexico until the two countries could establish formal ties, but China ultimately rejected this solution.20 In 1886, Mexico made further fruitless efforts to find a formula which would permit the company to transport Chinese laborers; but when the company again appealed for the intervention of the Foreign Ministry in 1888, the Ministry declined, noting that the only solution was the negotiation of a treaty between Mexico and China. The company had ceased to exist by 1890.

The Mexican Pacific Navigation Company was not the only enterprise interested in the transportation of Chinese to Mexico. In 1885, the Win Wou Company of San Francisco asked Romero to press for a treaty with China in order to facilitate immigration. In 1890, two other Chinese companies in the United States did the same.21 In response to pressures from these and other private concerns, from the Development Ministry, and probably from González (and Díaz after he returned to the presidency in 1884), the Foreign Ministry attempted to establish ties with China. In March 1884, it appointed a commercial agent in Hong Kong.22 In August, it instructed Romero to approach the Chinese minister in Washington about a treaty of commerce. By November 1885, Romero had been authorized to negotiate a treaty, using as a model one recently signed between Brazil and China. But Romero’s efforts were frustrated by the absence and, subsequently, the ill health and resignation of the Chinese minister. He continued to pursue the matter sporadically until 1889, frustrated by the fact that Chinese envoys (who were simultaneously accredited to other countries) were frequently absent and unable to obtain clear instructions from their government.23

Between 1884 and 1889, Mexico eagerly sought ties with China as part of a multifaceted program of economic development. It hoped that trade would stimulate Mexico’s economy and revive the weakening peso, while an influx of Chinese workers would facilitate railroad construction and the expansion of agriculture and mining in parts of the republic where labor was scarce. This part of the development program failed, in part because Mexican policy makers did not clearly understand conditions in China, nor the obstacles to penetrating that land. Interest in China waned after 1889, probably because of the success of other parts of the development program : the Díaz regime concentrated on promoting foreign investment in transportation, agriculture, mining, and finance. When relations between Mexico and China were finally established, it was at the instigation of the latter.

It is not clear what caused China to become interested in establishing diplomatic ties with Mexico. It has been suggested that, with the exclusion of its subjects from the United States, China acquired an interest in Mexico as a destination for emigrants.24 But for centuries China had regarded emigration with hostility and, as late as 1890, showed no desire to promote it.25 The explanation probably has more to do with domestic Chinese politics.26 In any case, in 1891 the Chinese legation in Washington approached Romero seeking a treaty of amity and commerce. Negotiations began in 1893 and continued through 1894.27 The Chinese government also sent a commission to Mexico “to inform it as to the condition of the country.”28 Suspended by Mexico in 1895, the negotiations resumed at Chinas instigation in 1896, and finally culminated in a treaty in 1899, 15 years after Mexico had first sought one.29 Mexico received most-favored-nation status and extraterritoriality for its citizens, and emigration was declared to be “free and voluntary.”

By 1899, Chinese emigration to Mexico had been underway for some time. Despite China’s prohibitions, the trickle of immigrants of earlier years had swollen considerably in the 1880s, and by 1895 almost 1,000 Chinese resided in Mexico. The number grew to over 2,500 in 1900 and to approximately 13,000 in 1910.30 By 1930, Mexico’s Chinese population of approximately 19,000 was exceeded in Latin America only by Cuba’s.31 Most immigrants were brought to Mexico by Chinese labor contractors or companies specializing in smuggling Chinese into the United States. That Chinese acquired by the labor contractors were not always willing emigrants is suggested by Article V of the Sino-Mexican treaty of 1899: “The two High Contracting Parties . . . condemn any act of violence or deceit committed in the ports or other parts of China for the purpose of expatriating Chinese subjects against their will.”

Chinese workers were generally transported from Hong Kong by one of several non-Mexican steamship companies. They disembarked at Mexico’s Pacific ports. They were then conducted to labor sites, where they were obligated to remain for the period specified in their contracts, customarily two years. Wages seldom exceeded one peso per day. Workers were employed in railroad construction and agriculture throughout the tierra caliente and in mining in northern Mexico.32 In 1904, 45 percent of Mexico’s Chinese population resided in Sonora, and 18 percent lived in Yucatán. Other entities with more than 5 percent of the total were the Federal District, Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa.33

The conditions of Chinese contract laborers in Mexico were often notoriously bad. In 1891, the agent for the Hei Loy Company, supplying workers for the construction of the Tehuantepec Railroad, complained to Díaz that his 1,000 men were scattered across the isthmus, many at inaccessible construction camps; that they had received no wages since their arrival; and that they were starving.34 In 1899, almost 500 Chinese workers employed in the San Luis Potosí-Tampico branch of the Mexican Central Railway sought the assistance of Chinese diplomats in the United States. The workers claimed that they had been recruited by the On Wo Company with the understanding that they would be employed in Victoria, British Columbia. But on arriving there, they had been locked in railroad cars and transported to Montreal and then to Tampico. They were paid 26 pesos per month, of which 5.25 were deducted to reimburse the On Wo Company, 12 were deducted for food, and 8 for “clothing, boots, and shoes.” Complaining that “[w]e have to toil rain or shine, and to endure all manner of hardships without daring to raise our eyes,” the letter asserted that some workers had been beaten to death.35 Some months later, however, Sam Hing, proprietor of the company, wrote Díaz denouncing unnamed Chinese who promoted rumors among “the Chinese that I bring, causing them to believe that they are going to be sold as slaves,” and encouraging them to flee. Noting that he had contracted with Pearson & Son to supply 2,500 workers to be employed in port improvements at Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz, he sought presidential intervention to assure that the aforementioned problem did not recur.36

Nowhere were the conditions of Chinese laborers more oppressive than in Yucatán, where they were employed by the state for road construction during the campaign against the unpacified Mayas of Quintana Roo and by private companies in railroad construction.37 Even larger numbers were employed on henequen plantations, where the demand for them grew steadily.38 There, conditions were so bad that in 1905 the Chinese chargé in Mexico City visited the peninsula to investigate allegations of mistreatment.39

Neither this nor any other official or unofficial intercession on behalf of Chinese immigrants seems to have produced results. The Chinese lacked the influence that powerful domestic and foreign entrepreneurs and other governments enjoyed. China’s relative weakness is illustrated by a comparison of the Sino-Mexican treaty of 1899 with the accord signed between Mexico and Japan in 1888, in which Mexico did not receive most-favored-nation status.40 Japan was also better able to protect its subjects from labor recruiters. In 1904, the Mexican legation reported that Juan C. Meyers, labor agent for a group of Yucatán hacendados, had failed to secure workers in Japan because of government restrictions, and that he “left Japan for China in search of less protected colonists.”41

Most of the Chinese who entered Mexico did not come as contract laborers, nor did they come to stay. In 1908, the Mexican legation in China estimated that 60,000 Chinese had emigrated to Mexico.42 Since less than 20 percent of that number could be found in Mexico and only a fraction had returned to China,43 it is likely that the majority had passed through Mexico into the United States. This movement of Chinese was one of the major consequences of the large-scale migration which began in the 1890s, and it had important repercussions for U.S.-Mexican relations.

Between 1850 and 1880, Chinese laborers had contributed significantly to the development of the western United States, and this had helped to convince parts of Mexico’s elite of the desirability of such immigration. But by the time Romero began pressing for Chinese immigration, the attitude of the United States was rapidly changing. Racism combined with the growth of the white labor force to produce a powerful anti-Chinese movement in the West. By 1876, both major political parties called for exclusion, and in 1877 serious anti-Chinese violence began. Congress made several attempts to prohibit further immigration, and in 1882 a ten-year prohibition on the immigration of Chinese laborers was finally adopted.44 In 1888, a second Chinese exclusion act prohibited the immigration of all Chinese except teachers, students, merchants, and tourists. Laborers who had returned to China were forbidden to reenter the United States unless they had wives, children, parents, or property or debts in excess of $100 there. In 1893, all Chinese in the United States were required to obtain certificates of residence, and in 1902 all Chinese immigration was definitively prohibited.

The Mexico City press fully reported all these developments, and the Mexican legation in Washington supplied its government with voluminous reports.45 The government’s response was summarized in an 1886 letter from Mariscal to Romero:

We do not have the same reasons as our northern neighbor to fear that the Chinese will arrive in great numbers. In America, where they work for a lesser wage than the natives . . . the government has been forced to accede to the demands of its citizens. The same thing will not occur here. The Chinese arriving on the Pacific coast will be in completely undeveloped regions, whose unhealthfulness has made them heretofore uninhabitable, even to Indians. If they should penetrate the districts cultivated by the Indians, they cannot seriously compete, since [the Indians’] wages are even lower than the immigrants’; as for the inconveniences resulting from race mixture, they should not exist here, since it is not the custom of the Chinese to mix with peoples different from themselves, and after having amassed a modest fortune, they dream of nothing but returning to their homeland.46

The United States, however, was unwilling to allow Mexico to assume such an attitude. As early as 1888, Romero was forwarding to his government press clippings highly critical of Mexico’s efforts to secure Chinese immigration. The Stockton, California Mail went so far as to suggest that Mexico should be warned that a Sino-Mexican treaty would be “inimical to the best interests of the United States and the Caucasian race,” and that if this warning was not heeded, “the United States . . . might find cause to teach her a lesson. If Mexicans have not the foresight to preserve their country for their own people, the United States might appropriately take it from them.”47 A resolution was introduced in the U. S. Senate calling for the negotiation of treaties with Mexico and Canada excluding Chinese from North America.48

Ultimately, however, the major source of U.S.-Mexican conflict was the illegal passage of Chinese from Mexico into the United States. This may have begun shortly after the adoption of the first exclusion act. By 1888, the U.S. perceived it to be a serious problem. It stimulated considerable comment in the United States press and Congress.49 Companies had been formed specializing in this activity. Typically, they arranged the emigrant’s passage to a Mexican Pacific port. In many cases, the company then secured employment for the emigrant in Mexico while he was coached about western customs. Then, the emigrant was transported to the border and turned over to a Mexican hired to take him into the United States and deliver him to a company representative there. According to a U.S. agent, “In the United States his Americanization was continued. He would also memorize a complete description of the house where he supposedly had been born, and an account of who his [family and friends] were. . ..” After the San Francisco earthquake destroyed public records, most claimed that as their birthplace. When the alien was properly trained, government agents were unable to prove his illegal status. “In the end, inability to prove they were illegal entrants made citizens of them.”50 The only alternatives for United States authorities were to intercept the Chinese at the border, or to persuade Mexico to exclude them.

Mexico’s position, publicized by Romero on the instructions of the Foreign Ministry as early as 1888, was that Article XI of the Mexican Constitution made it impossible to prohibit Chinese immigration or travel within the republic.51 Romero was compelled to maintain that position in the face of growing U.S. pressure over the next two years.52

Before 1890, U.S. concerns about the movement of Chinese through Mexico and across the frontier were clearly exaggerated. In 1885, the U.S. consul in Guaymas denied newspaper reports of 1,000 Chinese in Sonora, some of whom were being smuggled into the United States. He placed the Chinese population of Sonora at 125, all employed, with “no desire to leave their present profitable position.”53 In 1886, the State Department solicited consular reports on “Asiatic” immigration into Mexico. The only consulates which confirmed Chinese immigration were Guaymas and Mazatlán. The former noted the presence of 60 Chinese, employed in shoe factories and restaurants.54 The latter noted the recent arrival of some 300, half of whom had found employment.55

In 1889, the United States Treasury Department, which was responsible for enforcement of Chinese exclusion legislation, forwarded to the State Department a report from one of its agents alleging that Chinese arriving in San Francisco were being transferred to ships bound for Guaymas and Mazatlán, from which ports they would travel to the frontier to enter the United States clandestinely. Again, the State Department queried its consuls. All who replied denied the report.56

Illegal Chinese immigration through Mexico began on a significant scale in 1890. Reports from the Sonora border confirmed such activity in late January.57 Between May and July of that year, over 250 Chinese passed through Guaymas on their way north.58 An equal number may have passed through Mazatlán.59 Distance, the remoteness of the Sonora frontier, and the vigilance of U.S. officials apparently combined to make this activity unprofitable, and the movement subsided in July.60 The use of Ensenada as a base for Chinese smuggling was apparently more feasible, and such activity continued there.61

From this point on, Chinese movement across the U.S.-Mexican border waxed and waned but never completely stopped.62 The magnitude of this movement is difficult to determine. Between May 5 and June 14, 1901, the U.S. consul in Mazatlán counted 388 Chinese passing through that port on their way to the frontier; between October 21, 1904 and July 30, 1906, he counted 411.63 These figures suggest that the problem was less serious than the United States press, politicians, and treasury officials indicated. But they also confirm the existence of a problem, and explain the growing U.S. pressure on Mexico to put a stop to this activity.

In 1890 Mexico made an attempt to accommodate the United States. Romero was instructed

. . . to communicate to the Secretary of State at an opportune moment [Mexico’s] desire to cooperate so that Chinese who enter Mexico are not introduced into the United States in violation of laws prohibiting same; if that country can propose to our government some effective means of achieving this without violating the Constitution of this country; since with this excuse Mexico would be most happy to give the United States this new proof of friendship and understanding.64

Romero replied that this subject had never arisen, and he did not consider it prudent to broach it. He would therefore wait until “an opportune occasion presents itself.”65 There is no indication that such an occasion ever arose, but Foreign Minister Mariscal held discussions with U.S. Embassy personnel in Mexico City on this subject. The Embassy suggested that Mexico’s constitution could be interpreted so as to obtain the results which the United States “so heartily desired.”66 Mariscal then asked the distinguished jurist and long-time Liberal Ignacio Vallarta to study the subject. He produced a lengthy opinion suggesting that the article be interpreted “in the absolute sense that its letter and spirit both suggest.” Mexico now adopted this position, arguing as well that a prohibition on Chinese immigration or movement across the border would be unenforceable, considering that “the government of the United States with the great resources at its disposal, has been unable to adopt workable means to prevent the entry of Chinese into its territory.” Díaz had clearly embraced this position, and henceforth Mexico resisted all pressure to harmonize its Chinese immigration policy with that of its northern neighbor.67

The United States press and Congress escalated their attacks on Mexican policy, and in 1892 a new charge was added: that Chinese were becoming naturalized Mexican citizens, and then claiming the right to enter the United States. The Foreign Ministry responded that only five Chinese had become naturalized citizens and that this was not a problem. Thereafter, the government attempted to ignore the criticisms and pressures emanating from the north.68 For its part, the State Department now abandoned efforts to persuade Mexico to modify its policy, and for the next decade resisted other political pressures.

The Díaz regime had been forced to choose between the desires of the United States government and those of powerful economic interests in Mexico, domestic and foreign. Its decision to support the latter was an early manifestation of the tendency to seek independence from the United States which became more pronounced around the turn of the century.69 At that time, the Chinese question produced another challenge to Mexican sovereignty, and Mexico’s response again reflected Díaz’s nationalism.

Enforcement of Chinese exclusion, initially entrusted to the U.S. Treasury Department, was later passed to the Commerce Department. They created a corps of agents to police the Mexican border, and those agents frequently crossed the frontier, sometimes posing as private citizens and sometimes with the acquiescence of local Mexican officials.70 As long as this was not brought officially to the attention of the government in Mexico City, it was ignored, but in 1903, United States officials approached the Mexican consul in San Diego, California, seeking permission to cross the border with wagons and to remain in Baja California for several days in order to apprehend Chinese attempting to cross. The consul replied that no one in San Diego (or Baja California) could grant such authorization; and in forwarding this information to the Ministry, he pointed out that U.S. agents had been operating in Mazatlán, Guaymas, Ensenada, and especially Tijuana for many years.71

Mexico did not respond officially to this, but in 1904 the immigration commissioner in San Francisco submitted a formal request to the Mexican consul there. Its analysis was assigned to the head of the American Section in the Foreign Ministry, M. Zapata Vera. His report to Mariscal noted that any agreement to permit customs officials to cross the U.S.-Mexican border in order to perform their duties more effectively would have to be mutual and confined to the interception of contraband. Mexico could not cooperate in any effort “to prevent persons from our country from passing to the neighboring one.” To do so would be unconstitutional and “undignified.” Zapata recommended that the request be denied, but suggested that Mariscal first consult with Finance Minister José Yves Limantour, since Mexican customs officials had apparently been permitting the United States agents to enter the country.72 After investigating, the Finance Ministry denied that its officials had ever knowingly permitted U.S. agents to enter Mexico to intercept Chinese. The commissioner’s request was then denied, even though the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized that such conduct should be regarded as an unfriendly act.73

This issue was revived in 1906, when the Mexican consul in San Diego informed the Foreign Ministry that armed United States immigration agents crossed the border so frequently that they were widely recognized in Tijuana. Not only had they apprehended Chinese on Mexican soil, but they reportedly had attacked a Mexican mail wagon, “believing that there were Chinese immigrants on it.” Mariscal forwarded this information to

Interior Minister Ramón Corral, who consulted Díaz and then instructed the jefe político in Baja California Norte that, “without impeding the entry of American citizens into national territory, he watch closely, and prevent any foreigner, whatever his position, from carrying out official acts in Mexican territory.”74

Mexico had to withstand one more attempt to secure its cooperation in the enforcement of United States immigration policy. In 1905, the Embassy officially submitted a request from the U.S. secretary of commerce for Mexico’s assistance. The request contained a lengthy and detailed report, complete with photographs, on the operations of four companies based in Ciudad Juárez which specialized in smuggling Chinese into the United States. The report noted that “Mexico has a corps of inspectors, police and other officials constantly stationed along the Mexican side of the river who could, if properly instructed, be of great assistance in preventing violations of the immigration and Chinese exclusion laws,” and the secretary’s request asked that these officials be so instructed.75

Once again, Mariscal sought the recommendation of the American Section of the Foreign Ministry. It counseled communicating with authorities in Chihuahua to determine the accuracy of the report and their disposition to cooperate. This was done, and Chihuahua Governor Enrique Creel replied that the companies did exist, that they operated laundries and truck gardens and also smuggled Chinese across the border, and that they were peaceful and broke no Mexican laws. He concluded that their activities were a United States, not a Mexican, problem. This became Mexico’s official position, and once again the United States was rebuffed.76

Mexico’s response to United States pressure on the issue of Chinese immigration illustrates, if more illustration were needed, that the members of the Díaz regime were hardly the vende patrias that revolutionary historiography once suggested. In this matter, Mexico was prepared to defend its sovereignty and to give priority to the exigencies of economic development. Nevertheless, the pressure of the United States government, the criticism of Mexico in the Congress, and the often scathing attacks in the press inevitably produced discomfort. They were probably one factor in the decision of Mexico’s leaders to reevaluate the country’s Chinese immigration policy.

Overwhelmingly, Mexico’s Chinese immigrants came as laborers. They probably contributed significantly to railroad construction and the development of agriculture and mining in labor-scarce areas in the tierra caliente and the north. But, as Mexico acquired a reputation as a desirable field for investment in the 1880s, it began to attract some Chinese capital as well. In 1889, for example, a syndicate of Chinese merchants residing in San Francisco reportedly invested 328,000 dollars in a Baja California mine, Shanghai capital was invested in a Sonora mine, and two millionaire Chinese merchants from San Francisco visited Mexico in search of additional investments. One of them said, “I found my countrymen along the [Pacific] coast, of whom there are many, very prosperous and signally contented with their treatment by the Mexican people.”77 Díaz apparently afforded Chinese entrepreneurs the same consideration he did others, granting them audiences and recommending serious proposals to appropriate government agencies.78

The Chinese had their most significant economic impact, however, as they moved from labor to entrepreneurship. With astonishing frequency, workers managed to accumulate small amounts of capital. They then moved into the ambulatory sale of fruits and vegetables, or opened laundries, hotels, restaurants, or shops. In Sonora and Baja California, they quickly came to dominate shoe and clothing manufacturing. By 1910, they dominated small trade in much of northern Mexico.79 Some had gone further. They owned some of the largest mercantile establishments in Sonora.80 They were reported to own a financial house in Mexico City capitalized at one million pesos, which had branches in New York and Hong Kong.81 Their most notable success was in Torreón, where they owned a major bank and one of the city’s streetcar lines.82 As they prospered, increasing numbers of Chinese became Mexican citizens. The first 2 were naturalized in 1893. By 1898, a total of 34 had become citizens. Annual naturalizations increased from 8 in 1902 to 24 in 1904, 30 in 1908, and 70 in 1910. By then, Chinese accounted for the majority of all naturalizations. Overwhelmingly, these new citizens listed their occupation as “merchant.”83

In a variety of ways, then, the Chinese contributed to Mexico’s economic development during the Porfiriato. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Mexico began to reassess its policies on Chinese immigration. In addition to pressures emanating from the United States, several factors contributed to the reassessment. The mistreatment of Chinese workers had led to criticism and diplomatic inquiries which were undoubtedly an embarrassment.84 Furthermore, Chinese immigration contributed to a number of problems which taxed the resources of the Mexican government. One was the problem of law and order. Although it is unlikely that Chinese committed a disproportionate share of Mexico’s crimes, the Foreign Ministry received frequent reports of infractions ranging from murder to operating gambling and opium dens.85 And in 1899, local authorities in northern Veracruz were sufficiently alarmed at the magnitude of the crime wave allegedly associated with Chinese and Japanese workers employed by the Mexican Central Railroad to appeal for federal intervention.86

A more serious matter was the public health problems posed by Chinese immigrants. Beginning about 1900, Mexico, following the trend in other republics in the hemisphere, attempted a closer observation and regulation for health risks of individuals, animals, and objects entering the country. By 1902, the Consejo Superior de Salubridad had been established in Mexico City to supervise the effort, and facilities had been established in Veracruz and the major Pacific ports for the inspection, observation, and disinfection of incoming persons and objects.87 In part, this represented an attempt to keep up with the times; but it also reflected the growing realization that Chinese immigrants frequently carried a number of infectious diseases, particularly trachoma. After 1903, emigrants were required to obtain health certificates from Mexican consuls in China prior to departure.88 In that year, emigration from Hong Kong was halted temporarily because of a yellow fever epidemic there—a suspension which produced alarm among Yucatán’s hacendados, whose appetite for servile labor was seemingly insatiable.89 In 1907, the Interior Ministry urged the Consejo to enforce health regulations as they applied to Chinese immigrants.90

By 1908, Chinese immigration was being channeled through Salina Cruz, and a regular procedure for processing immigrants had been developed. Health inspectors met incoming ships and only those Chinese who had health certificates and seemed healthy were permitted to leave. Those allowed to disembark were housed in barracks belonging to the steamship companies, where they and their possessions were disinfected and they were quarantined for ten days. Any who showed signs of disease were returned to the ships. Conflicts often arose involving government officials, shipowners, immigrants, and the diplomats representing these groups.91 In light of all this, Díaz may have begun to doubt the desirability of Chinese immigration. In 1909, he admonished a Chinese entrepreneur who interviewed him about establishing another steamship line between Mexico and China to observe strictly all Mexican health regulations.92

But the most important source of the regime’s reevaluation of Chinese immigration was the growing public hostility toward the immigrants. Racist arguments against the immigration were advanced as soon as it was first proposed. In 1874, the Gaceta Internacional opposed it and concluded: “the truth is that the Chinese, refractory toward all civilizations other than his own, does not change his habits, that he has perverse tendencies, and that the mixture of his race with those of Cuba and Peru will produce a generation whose quality we leave to the judgment of the ethnographers.”93 Similar sentiments were voiced repeatedly in the Mexico City press from that time forward.94 Racist attacks on the Chinese intensified as they moved out of the labor force and began to compete with Mexicans in commerce and service industries. They were accused of being physically inferior, unattractive, disease-ridden, unwilling to assimilate culturally, cruel, indolent, pernicious, and immoral. It was argued that they threatened public health, corrupted public morals, promoted crime, removed wealth from circulation, depressed wages, and took work from women.

These feelings soon led to violence. There was an anti-Chinese riot in Mazatlán in 1886, and several unprovoked attacks on Chinese occurred in Mexico City beginning in the same year. Employment of Chinese in a Nogales lumber mill provoked a wildcat strike in 1891, and there was anti-Chinese violence in Monterrey in 1894.95 By 1900, such occurrences were common, and some enterprises were seeking to avoid employing Chinese as a result. In 1905, the Mexico City representative of the Boleo copper mine, Baja California’s largest, wrote Díaz that the company wished to avoid employing Asians; and asked him to instruct authorities in Colima, Jalisco, and Sinaloa to assist the company in securing native labor.96 In 1897, Díaz had assured a Chinese entrepreneur interested in promoting colonization that “the Chinese colonists that come will enjoy, like those of any other nationality, the same rights and privileges that the laws concede to Mexicans . . .,”97 and the attitude of the científicos is probably captured accurately by a recent student of the matter:

The positivists had no preference when it came to peons. They were interested not in the origin but in the efficacy of the labor; they omitted all racial and esthetic considerations, and noted only economic criteria. . . . Only when Mexico had satisfied its agricultural needs with foreign peons should the problem of what sort of immigrants were desirable in Mexico’s cities be taken up again.98

But the regime moved away from this position at the outset of the twentieth century.

In 1903, the Interior Ministry appointed a commission headed by Genaro Raigosa to study the issue of Chinese and Japanese immigration. The commission heard testimony and gathered considerable data.99 Raigosa produced a lengthy report,100 noting that surveys of employers in the tierra caliente indicated that over 100,000 additional Chinese would be needed to satisfy their labor needs. He analyzed European and Oriental civilizations for the purpose of showing their incompatibility. He argued that the Chinese could not be assimilated, and that Mexican society was already badly fragmented: “Consequently, if in other societies more vigorously constituted and more advanced in their evolution, Aso-European hybridization has proved unacceptable, in our country it would seem to assume positively pernicious characteristics. . . .” He concluded that:

It is not in the national interest to permit the continued unrestricted development of Chinese immigration in a collective form, i.e., in groups contracted and transported to the Republic by foreign agencies, to perform personal service here according to contracts celebrated abroad.

The federal government should govern, regulate, and direct Chinese immigration in the national interest.

In 1904, the commission met Interior Minister Ramón Corral and presented the following recommendations:

  1. Permanent Asian immigration is undesirable.

  2. Temporary immigration to meet economic needs should be regulated by the government according to the following precepts:

    • Japanese immigration should be preferred over Chinese or Korean.

    • A distinction should be made with Chinese or Koreans between voluntary individual immigration and that contracted by companies.

    • Voluntary immigration should be subject only to health regulations.

    • Contract immigration should be subject to the following additional regulations:

      Contracts should be reviewed by a Mexican consul prior to departure to assure that they conform with the Mexican constitution and laws.

      Each immigrant should sign the contract in the consul’s presence and should further demonstrate that he acts freely and is not a fugitive from justice. Contracts and certificates to that effect should be presented to Mexican port authorities as a requirement for admission.

      Steamship companies should be required to return to China all immigrants rejected by port authorities.

    • Mexican immigration companies should, in addition to the above, be required to repatriate the Chinese upon completion of their contracts.101

Following the submission of these recommendations, the commission was instructed to suspend its activities. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. Raigosa later attributed it to three reasons: a decline in Chinese immigration in the latter part of 1904; the fact that the continuation of many immigrants through Mexico and into the United States meant that the problem might not be as serious as had been feared; and Japan’s victory over Russia and the appearance of a powerful reform movement in China, which suggested that further analysis of Oriental civilization was in order.102 It is probable, however, that the intercession of powerful economic interests had a great deal to do with the suspension of the commission’s work. Olegario Molina, long a strong advocate of Chinese immigration, had joined the cabinet as development minister and probably opposed the restrictions.

If the government had decided to eschew restrictions on Chinese immigration, it clearly retained no enthusiasm for it. The Mexican Herald, which was well connected to the científicos, summarized the situation accurately in 1905: “Mexico is not welcoming Chinese immigration and is taking no special measures to encourage it. Some private concerns are importing Chinese labor, chiefly for the hot country, but they are doing it on their own account and initiative and without government aid.”103

In December 1905, Ambassador Joaquín Casasús wrote from Washington asking, in the light of U.S. concern over the illegal entry of Chinese from Mexico, whether the Raigosa commission had completed its report and requesting a copy. The Foreign Ministry transmitted the inquiry to Interior, which in January 1906 asked the commission to resume its work, “it being every day a more urgent necessity to decide what policy should be pursued on matters of immigration.”104

There is no indication that the commission submitted a formal report, or that the government went beyond tightening health restrictions prior to Díaz’s fall. Large numbers of Chinese continued to enter Mexico, tensions with the United States persisted, and anti-Chinese sentiment mounted, particularly in northern states. The regime recognized the existence of a “Chinese problem,” but conflicting interests within its ranks and a growing inertia which was manifested in other areas as well precluded a solution. This, like many problems stimulated by the development policies of the Porfiriato, was left for the revolutionary generation to resolve.

In an age when virtually every development program undertaken had succeeded dramatically, Porfirian immigration promotion had been profoundly disappointing. It had gradually become apparent that Mexico would never receive the sort of European immigration that had transformed some nations. A handful of European colonies, settled primarily by Italians, were established at great expense to the government, but none flourished, and most had disappeared by 1900. By then, the Díaz regime had admitted defeat, and Development Minister Manuel Fernández Leal sought to forget the policies of the early Porfiriato: “The government has never believed it possible, with the country in its present situation, to direct towards Mexico a great current of free immigrants like that which has so benefitted the United States and Argentina.”105 The goal, he asserted, was to attract Western investors, not workers. The only immigration that occurred on a significant scale in Díaz’s Mexico was Chinese immigration. It was actively sought by the nations elite, although for reasons different from those motivating the quest for Europeans. It was sufficiently desired that Mexico undertook arduous and sometimes embarrassing diplomatic exercises and resisted considerable pressures from the United States.

Chinese immigration was successful because it conformed with Mexican realities: the Chinese joined the ranks of the exploited masses and were, in fact, more docile than Indians and mestizos. But when they moved from the labor force into the petty bourgeoisie—and sometimes beyond—the railroad men, hacendados, and mine owners lost interest in them, and the científicos lost some of their enthusiasm for promoting the immigration. Most importantly, the success of the Chinese provoked deep-seated resentments among many Mexicans, and the scene was set for their persecution after 1910.


William Lytle Schurz, The Manilla Galleon (New York, 1939), 361-388; Pablo Guzmán-Rivas, “Reciprocal Geographic Influences of the Trans-Pacific Galleon Trade” (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1960), 7-50; Anita Bradley, Trans-Pacific Relations of Latin America (New York, 1942), 1-11; John McMaster, “Aventuras asiáticas del peso mexicano,” Historia Mexicana, 8:3 (Jan.-Mar. 1959), 1-3.


Clinton Harvey Gardiner, “Trade Between Mexico and the Transpacific World, 1870-1900,” Inter-American Economic Affairs, 3:3 (Winter 1949), 29—30.


In 1865, a Portuguese merchant obtained from Maximilian’s government a concession to establish a company to introduce Asian immigrants into Mexico. Iyo Iimura Kunimoto, “Japan and Mexico, 1888—1917” (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1975), 23. For other references to Chinese immigration before 1876, see Gunther Barth, Bitter Strength (Cambridge, MA, 1964), 65 and Stan Steiner, Fusang: The Chinese Who Built America (New York, 1980), 115.


Kennett Cott, “Porfirian Investment Policies, 1876-1910” (Ph.D. diss., University of New Mexico, 1979), 5-31.


Dieter George Berninger, La inmigración en México (1821-1857) (Mexico City, 1974), 21-85.


Memoria presentada al Congreso de la Unión por el Secretario . . . de Fomento, Colonización, Industria y Comercio . . . Corresponde al año trascurrido de diciembre de 1876 a noviembre de 1877 (Mexico City, 1877), 442.


Harry Bernstein, Matías Romero, 1837-1898 (Mexico City, 1973), 184, 211, 214-228.


Revista Universal (Mexico City), Aug. 20, 1875. Earlier, Romero, motivated by “the desire to contribute my little grain of sand to the development of coffee growing in the state of Chiapas,” had published a lengthy study on that subject in the same newspaper (serialized between June 1 and Aug. 5, 1875). In it he noted that an inadequate labor supply was one of the major obstacles to this development.


Between 1850 and the suppression of the coolie trade in 1874, an estimated 87,000 Chinese were shipped to Peru and over 100,000 to Cuba. Bradley, Trans-Pacific Relations, 47-49.


El Correo del Comercio (Mexico City), July 18, 1876.


Responses are summarized in Moisés González Navarro, El Porfiriato, La vida social (vol. IV of Historia moderna de México, Daniel Cosío Villegas, director. Mexico City, 1957). 160.


See Cott, “Porfirian Investment Policies,” 49-121.


Oficial Mayor de Fomento Manuel Fernández to Ignacio Mariscal, Mar. 14, 1881, Archivo de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico City (hereafter ARE), sección 44, caja 9, exp. 37 (hereafter only the numbers will he cited: 44-9-37).


Mariscal to Fernández, Apr. 19, 1881, ibid.


Ibid., passim.


ARE, 44-6-47.


A copy of the contract is in ARE, 44-6-35.


Mariscal was conducting delicate negotiations for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, severed since the French intervention. This account of the controversy is based on the following documents in ARE, 44-6-35: Salvador Malo to Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (hereafter SRE), Oct. 6, 1884; SRE to Mariscal, Nov. 5, 1884; Mariscal to SRE, Oct. 8, 23, 31, Nov. 15, 20, Dec. 2, 3, 1884.


Growing alarm on the part of the Chinese government regarding the treatment of coolies in Cuba and Peru had culminated in the dispatch of a commission to investigate the situation there. The commission produced a highly critical report, as a result of which coolie trade was banned. Thereafter, China sought to prevent the emigration of its citizens to countries which could not protect their interests. Bradley, Trans-Pacific Relations, 47-50; Revista Universal, Apr. 10, 18, May 30, 1874; and Vera Valdez Lakowsky, “Estudio histórico del Tratado Sino-Mexicano de 1899” (tesis de Licenciado en Historia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1979), 113. Mariscal also suspected that Britain’s “monopolistic tendencies” caused it to wish to discourage “a direct traffic between our Republic and Asian ports which could develop considerably.” Mariscal to SRE, Oct. 31, 1884, ARE, 44-6-35.


In pressing the Mexican government to accept British protection, the British envoy in Mexico City, Spenser St. John, clearly tied the matter to Mexico’s development program: “I cannot but think that it is of the very highest importance to the prosperity of the Mexican states lying on the Pacific coast that Chinese immigrants should be encouraged to settle there, and that the acceptance of this fresh proposal made on behalf of China, will enable the Mexican Company to procure an excellent class of laborers at the English colony of Hong Kong.” St. John to SRE, Dec. 2, 1884; ibid.


Romero to SRE, May 22, 1885 and Apr. 19, 1890, ARE, L-E-1983.


ARE, 44-6-47.


ARE, L-E-1983, passim.


See, e.g., Valdez, “Estudio,” 289.


O. H. K. Spate, The Spanish Lake (Minneapolis, 1979), 147; Bradley, Trans-Pacific Relations, 65-66.


Mexico’s efforts to secure Chinese immigration and a treaty in the 1880s had apparently been frustrated in part because of factionalism at the Chinese court and the government’s preoccupation with other matters. See Romero to SRE, Apr. 29, 1886, ARE, L-E-1983, and Mariscal to SRE, Nov. 15, 1884, ARE, 44-6-35.


ARE, L-E-1983 and L-E-1984, passim.


ARE, 15-5-132, passim.


A copy of the treaty is in ARE, L-E-1985.


Departamento de la Estadística Nacional, Censo general de la República Mexicana verificada el 20 de octubre de 1895 (Mexico City, 1899), IV, 115-129; Departamento de la Estadística Nacional, Censo de la República Mexicana practicado en 1900: Extranjeros residentes (Mexico City, 1903); and Dirección General de Estadística, División territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico City, 1918), II, 37-79. Census figures should be regarded as approximations and probably underenumerate Mexico’s Chinese population. Thus, while the 1895 census counted only 947, in 1886 there were reportedly over 300 Chinese living in Mazatlán alone. Moisés González Navarro, La colonización en México (Mexico City, 1960), 82.


Bradley, Trans-Pacific Relations, 113.


González Navarro, Colonización, 10-60; Valdez, “Estudio,” 194; SRE, Boletín de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, 20 (1905), 128 (hereafter BRE). For a typical agreement between a Mexican employer and a labor contractor, see the contract of the Tabasco Land and Development Company in the Colección General Porfirio Díaz (hereafter CPD), Mexico City, Universidad Iberoamericana, leg. 32, docs. 676-680.


“Estudio que el Licenciado Genaro Raigosa, presidente de la comisión oficial nombrada al efecto, hizo sobre la inmigración Asiática” (hereafter “Estudio Raigosa”), CPD, leg. 34, doc. 5.


CPD, leg. 16, docs. 8545-8550.


ARE, 17-21-55.


CPD, leg. 24, docs. 7174-7176. In neither case did the Mexican executive agree to intervene. Both parties were told to take their cases to the courts.


José I. Novelo, Yucatán, 1902-1906 (Mérida, 1907), 19-23.


Governor Olegario Molina reported in 1904 that henequen planters had formed a company for the purpose of securing 20,000 additional workers in China. “Estudio Raigosa,” 6.


CPD, leg. 28, doc. 3707, and leg. 30, doc. 1329; Gonzalez Navarro, Vida social, 225-226; and John K. Turner, “Slaves of Yucatán,” American Magazine (N.Y.), 1909, pp. 525-538.


Kunimoto, “Japan and Mexico,” 127-130.


“Estudio Raigosa,” 51.


BRE, 28, p. 142.


By 1908. there was a substantial return migration. In May of that year, a ship of the Chinese Commercial Steamship Company arrived at Salina Cruz with 518 Chinese immigrants. After unloading, it was scheduled to continue to Guaymas to board over 300 returning Chinese. ARE, 13-6-65.


David L. Anderson, “The Diplomacy of Discrimination: Chinese Exclusion, 1876-1882,” California History, 58:1 (Spring 1978), 32-45.


See, e.g., ARE, 15-2-69, passim.


Quoted in González Navarro, Colonización, 82.


Clipping in Romero to SRE, June 28, 1894, ARE, L-E-1984.


Romero to SRE, Oct. 13, 1888, ARE, 15-2-69.


Romero to SRE, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, 1888, A. K. Coney to SRE, Apr. 11, 1890, ibid.


Clifford A. Perkins, “Reminiscences of a Chinese Inspector,” Journal of Arizona History, 17 (Summer 1976), 187-188. This account is corroborated by a detailed report supplied to the U.S. consul in Ensenada. See Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Ensenada, 1888-1906 (United States National Archives microfilm series), Apr. 21, 1890. This source will hereafter be cited as Consular Despatches, followed by the location of the consulate and date of the despatch.


SRE to Romero, Oct. 19 and 23, 1888 and Romero to SRE, Nov. 11, 1888, ARE, 15-2-69. Article XI reads: “All men have the right to enter and leave the Republic, travel through its territory, and change their residence without the necessity of letters of security, passports, safe-conduct, or other similar requisites.”


Examples of U.S. hostility on this issue abound in ARE, 15-2-69. When, in 1890, Romero sent the Foreign Ministry a report from the U.S. Treasury Department alleging that 85 Chinese were bound for Guaymas with the intention of entering the United States, and requested confirmation of the accuracy of the statement, the Foreign Ministry refused, noting that even if the report were true, there was nothing the government could do about it. Romero to SRE, June 3, 1890 and SRE to Romero, June 16, 1890, ibid.


Consular Despatches, Guaymas, Sept. 26, 1885.


Ibid., Sept. 24, 1886.


Ibid., Mazatlán, Dec. 1, 1886.


Ibid., Ensenada, Sept. 13, 1889; Mexico City, Sept. 14, 1889; Guaymas, Sept. 18, 1889; Mazatlán, Sept. 18, 1889. Mazatlán Consul Edward G. Kelton reported that a number of Chinese had arrived from San Francisco, but that they were under contract to the Anglo Mexican Mining Company at Yedras, Sinaloa. The “Chinese that have arrived intend to remain,” he asserted.


Ibid., Nogales, Jan. 28, 1890.


Ibid., Guaymas, May 8, 18, July 6, Dec. 31, 1890.


Consular reports from Mazatlán in the spring of 1890 are not extensive. Consul Kelton, in serious financial difficulties, was forced to travel to San Francisco to meet with his creditors.


Ibid., Guaymas, July 6, Sept. 17, Dec. 31, 1890.


Ibid., July 6, Sept. 17, 1890; Ensenada, Apr. 21, 1890.


Ibid., Mazatlán, Sept. 1, 1891, July 10, 28, 1900; Ciudad Juárez, Dec. 28, 1898; Ensenada, June 29, July 26, 1901.


Ibid., Mazatlán, June 17, 1901; Oct. 21, Nov. 29, 1904; May 24, July 11, 1905; Feb. 22, Apr. 23, May 26, July 30, 1906.


SRE to Romero, June 27, 1890, ARE, 15-2-69.


Romero to SRE, July 17, 189o, ibid.


ARE, 7-11-28.




Ibid., 15-2-69, 37-41-1, 18-27-31, 15-5-1, 7-11-28, 15-10-65, 44-12-59.


See, e.g., Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico (Chicago, 1981), 21-27.


This practice began as early as 1890. Consular Despatches, Guaymas, May 8, 1890.


Lomeli to SRE, July 25, 1903, ARE, 15-10-65.


Romero to SRE, July 26, 1904, and SRE to Limantour, Sept. 19, 1904, ibid.


S. G. Labastida to SRE, Nov. 7, 1904 and P. Ornelas to SRE, Feb. 8, 1905, ibid., newspaper clipping in ARE, 15-15-12.


J. A. Mateos to SRE, May 24, 1906; SRE to Mateos, June 4, 1906; Corral to SRE, June 20, 1906; ARE, 15-10-65. The report of the jefe politico on this matter, noting a heavy flow of Chinese through Baja California into the United States, is in ARE, 15-15-12.


William Heinke to SRE, June 20, 1905, ARE, 15-10-65.


J. Duret to SRE, Feb. 2, 1906, ibid., and Creel to SRE, Nov. 19, 1905, ARE, 15-15-12.


Two Republics (Mexico City), June 23, 1889, Feb. 15, 1890; Financiero Mexicano, July 8, 1893.


See, e.g., ARE, 18-27-31; CPD, leg. 22, docs. 16947-16948, leg. 34, docs. 12681-12682. On the role of Díaz in personally promoting the efforts of foreign and domestic entrepreneurs, see Cott, “Porfirian Investment Policies,” 140-206.


Leo M. Damborgos Jacques, “The Chinese Massacre in Torreón (Coahuila) in 1911,” Arizona and the West, 16:3 (Autumn 1974), 234, and Jacques, “Have Quick More Money than Mandarins,” The Journal of Arizona History, 17 (Summer 1976), 201-218; González Navarro, Vida social, 168; Kunimoto, “Japan and Mexico,” 95-96; Bradley, Transpacific Relations, 62; Secretaría de Fomento, Boletín de Agricultura, Minería e Industria, 9:1 (Mexico City, 1899), 134-135; “Estudio,” 2; BRE, 28, pp. 141-142.


Percy F. Martin, Mexico in the Twentieth Century (London, 1907), I, 159.


Jacques, “Chinese Massacre,” 234-236; Eduardo Guerra, Torreón: Su origen y sus fundadores (Torreón, 1932), 110. In each of these cases, it is impossible to determine how much of the capital invested was generated in Mexico. In Torreón, a significant amount came from abroad.


Data on naturalizations may be found in ARE, 15-7-94, and BRE, vols. 19-31, passim. It is possible to identify the places of residence of 175 Chinese naturalized during the Porfiriato. Almost half (84) were from Sonora. Other entities with significant numbers of naturalized Chinese were Coahuila (26), D.F. (18), Baja California (16), and Chihuahua (12). Overwhelmingly, the naturalized Chinese lived in urban areas, the most important being Guaymas (41), Torreón (25), Cananea (18), Ensenada (16), and Nogales (13). Presumably, the 18 from the Federal District were also urbanites.


See above, concerning mistreatment of the Chinese.


See, e.g., ARE, “Extranjeros Delincuentes,” legs. 4074-68, 4056-12, 4055-45, 4058-4, 4059-45, 4070-19, 4061-14, 4049-69, 4054-3, 4060-63.


ARE, 15-8-96.


BRE, 16, pp. 88-97.


Ibid., 17, pp. 187-189.


CPD, leg. 28, docs. 11776-11778.


BRE, 25, p. 5.


ARE, 13-6-65.


CPD, leg. 34, docs. 12681-12682.


Reproduced in Revista Universal, May 30, 1874.


For a representative sample, see González Navarro, Vida social, 161-165.


Ibid., 171-172.


CPD, leg. 30, doc. 1443.


Ibid., leg. 23, doc. 16948.


González Navarro, Vida social, 166.


One letter to the commission insisted that Mexico should not permit immigration from a land that in the past produced “eruptions of barbarians into Europe,” and rambled on for 20 barely coherent pages, attempting to demonstrate the undesirability of the Chinese. CPD, leg. 29, docs. 12372-12381.


“Estudio Raigosa,” 1-55.


CPD, leg. 34, docs. 60-61.


Ibid., docs. 63-64.


Mexican Herald, June 14, 1905.


ARE, 15-10-65, and CPD, leg. 34, docs. 64-65.


Memoria presentada al Congreso de la Unión por el Secretario de Fomento, Colonización, Industria y Comercio . . ., 1897-1900 (Mexico City, 1901), 12.