El Boleo

Santa Rosalia


Copper ore was first discovered in the Santa Rosalia region in 1868 and in the beginning mined on just a small scale. However, operations expanded from 1885 when the French company Compagnie du Boleo obtained control of the property and began mining, after receiving an extensive concession and 70-year tax exemption granted by Porfirio Díaz. Díaz apparently hoped that the mine would create a development zone in the arid and unpopulated region and the company did bring in the railroad, electricity, telephone, telegraph, a public clock and stunning architecture, including a church of prefabricated iron attributed to Gustave Eiffel.

In February 1899 a newspaper complained that the company paid it workers in fichas or carteras de crédito that were only of use in the company’s tienda de rayaLa Patria de México, Año XXIII, Núm. 6678, 10 February 1899.

For the first fifteen years, until 1901 when it built a market and allowed in private storekeepers, the sale of goods was completely controlled by the company. The company paid its workers monthly, but kept open an account (cartera) at the tienda de raya. A newspaper report in 1900 specifically stated that the day-labourers received notes exchangeable for goods in the company store (boletos o vales que eran canjeables por efectos en la tienda) - and that if a worker had not used up his credit by payday the gangmasters found pretexts for fining him so that that the paymaster did not have to make any payment in cashEl Imparcial, Guaymas, 21 March 1900.


During the revolution

For issues during the revolution see Private Issues (north of La Paz).

After the revolution

In [ ] the Secretaria de Industria, Comercio y Trabajo published regulations covering piecework at the company. Article 9 stated that piecework would be paid weekly in legal tender. The use of tokens, vouchers or any other forms of payment (fichas, vales o cualquiera otra forma con que se pretenda suplir la moneda) was stricly forbidden, except in the case in which commercial conditions in the region made it necessary to extend the payment periods, which would be done in agreement with the Junta de Conciliación and local authoritiesAGN, Departamento del Trabajo, vol. 125, exp. 4. This might just be an acknowledgement of existing law, rather than refer to specific local conditions.