The Cananea strike took place in the Mexican mining town of Cananea, Sonora, in June 1906.
Striking workers in Cananea confront U.S. soldiers protecting the company store
Although the workers were forced to return to their positions with no demand being met, the action was a key event in the general unrest that emerged during the final years of the regime of President Porfirio Daz and that prefigured the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In the incident 23 people died (from the ranks of both labor and management), 22 were injured, and more than 50 were arrested.
By 1906, the Nogales-based Cananea Consolidated Copper Company had some 5,360 Mexican workers employed at its Cananea copper mines, earning 3.50 pesos per day while the 2,200 American workers there were earning 5 pesos for the same job. Conditions in which the Mexican employees worked were deplorable. During the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo (May 5), the Mexican employees made public their complaints while the local authority applied martial law to avoid further conflicts.
On June 1, most of the Mexican miners went on strike. Led by Juan Jos Ros, Manuel M. Diguez and Esteban Baca Caldern, their demands were:
- Removal of one foreman named Luis.
- Pay of five pesos for eight hours' work.
- Employment quotas ensuring 75% of the jobs for Mexicans and 25% for foreigners.
- Deployment of responsible and respectful men to operate the cages.
- All Mexican workers to be entitled to promotions, in accordance with their skills.
The company executives rejected all of the petitions and the workers decided to march and gather people from other towns in the municipality. The population supported the workers and the crowd numbered more than 3,000 people. While they were marching in front of the wood shop of the company, the American employees in charge of that department, the Metcalf brothers, threw water at them and then fired shots, killing three people. The angry mob detained the brothers and lynched them by setting them on fire. When they approached the government building of the municipal president they were received by a 275 man American posse led by Arizona Rangers. Other workers were killed while the strike leaders were sent to prison. Contemporary news reports in the New York Times on June 3, 1906 reported that on June 1, strikers destroyed a lumber mill and killed two brothers who were defending the mine. Eleven casualties were reported among the Mexican "rioters". Responding to a telegraphed plea from Colonel Greene of the Greene Consolidated Copper Company, a posse of 275 volunteers from Bisbee, Douglas and Naco, Arizona, commanded by Captain Thomas H. Rynning of the Arizona Rangers, entered Mexico against the orders of Joseph Henry Kibbey, Governor of Arizona Territory, and at the invitation of Rafael Yzabel, the Governor of Sonora, reinforced the Sonoran rurales. Mexican troops were reported en route to the city. Four troops of the Fifth Cavalry en route from Fort Huachuca were held at Naco, Arizona, on the border on the orders of President Howard Taft. According to Colonel Green the "trouble was incited by a Socialistic organization that has been formed [in Cananea] by malcontents opposed to the Daz government."    
The Cananea municipal jail, built in 1903 and located in downtown Cananea, is currently a museum Museo de la Lucha Obrera ("Workers' Struggle Museum") and also houses exhibitions of photographs and instruments used in mining.
A corrido titled La c¡rcel de Cananea ("Cananea jail") written in 1917 commemorates the incident.
The mine in Cananea currently continues to be mined for copper. After the original 1906 strike the Cananea mine has remained the scene of frequent labor disputes, with the most recent incident being a five month miners strike that has lasted into January, 2008.
- ^ "ARMED AMERICANS AT GREENE'S MINE; Rushed Into Mexico from Arizona Against Gov. Kibbey's Orders. TAFT HOLDS UP U.S. TROOPS Cavalry from Huachuca Stopped at the Frontier – Only Two Americans Killed in Riots" New York Times June 3, 1906, Greene Consolidated Copper Company, Cananea, Mexico
- ^ New York Times report from Mexico City giving the viewpoint of the Mexican government, June 2, 1906]
- ^ "WENT AGAINST ORDERS; Governor of Arizona Warned Capt. Rynning and Other Americans" New York Times, June 3, 1906
- ^ "MEXICANS RESENT INVASION.; Charges Against Gov. Yzabel, Who Let in Arizona Rangers" New York Times October 12, 1906
- ^ "Miners call nationwide strike over Cananea" Guardian Unlimited January 14, 2008