Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



On May 14, 1911 the revolutionary forces of Francisco Madero attacked the northern city of Torreon in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. The following morning, they victoriously entered the town. With the soldiers came about 4,000 individuals from towns and villages throughout the region. They and the soldiers soon began a plundering of the city that particularly targeted Chinese immigrants. By the end of the day, 303 Chinese and five Japanese lay dead; Chinese financial losses were estimated at over one million dollars. While the magnitude of the attack may have been an anomaly, the targeting of the Chinese was not. Chinese immigrants were repeatedly persecuted and killed, their businesses ransacked, and communities threatened throughout the course of the Mexican revolution. Attacks against the Chinese continued even after the cessation of hostilities and end of the revolution in 1920. Legislation restricted Chinese immigration, prohibited marriages between Chinese and Mexicans, and segregated Chinese communities into ghettos. Extreme cases of persecution in the northern state of Sonora predicated their expulsion from that state in 1931. The history of the Chinese in Mexico is relatively unknown. Attention to foreign immigrants and populations in Mexico has focused primarily upon North American and European companies and diplomats, due in part to the economic nationalism that capped and followed the revolution. However, although the imperialist undertakings of North Americans and Europeans spurred resentment against foreign influence and calls to economic nationalism during the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period, they infrequently fell victim to the violence the Chinese experienced.


Latin American and Iberian Institute

Language (ISO)



The Latin American and Iberian Institute of the University of New Mexico


China, immigrants, Porfirian Mexico, settlement, anti-Chinese sentiment