Today in labor history, January 28, 1917: 17-year old house cleaner Carmelita Torres leads what will become known as the “Bath Riots” at the Juarez/El Paso border, refusing the gasoline and chemical “bath” imposed on Mexican workers crossing the border into the U.S. Torres and 30 other women resisted and several hundred people quickly joined in the demonstration. Troops eventually quelled the riot and Torres was arrested. The practice continued for decades. [Photo: Mexican laborers being fumigated with the pesticide DDT in Hidalgo, Texas, in 1956.]

Carmelita Torres was A 17 year old housekeeper who resisted the humiliating mistreatment faced by migrant workers during one of her crossings. She convinced 30 other women to refuse being stripped and doused with gasoline and by that afternoon hundreds had joined them in protest.

Mexican women were at the forefront of the bath riots. Remember that! 


January 30, 2015