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Senator Carlos Concepción.

The Workers' Coalition was a political party in the United States of Mexico from 1875 to 1881. It was founded by Senator Carlos Concepción of Chiapas.

Concepción was the leader of the radical wing of the Liberty Party. At the 1875 Libertarian convention, he was one of two leading candidates for the party's Presidential nominee. Concepción argued that the electoral reforms instituted by former President Arthur Conroy would allow a Mexicano candidate such as himself to win the presidency. However, the more moderate party leaders were not prepared to follow him, and instead nominated a more mainstream candidate, Arizona Governor Thomas Rogers.

When Rogers received the nomination, Concepción led his followers out of the convention. The next day, he announced the formation of the Workers' Coalition, which would oppose both Rogers and incumbent President Omar Kinkaid of the Continentalist Party. Although Sobel does not say as much, it is likely that Concepción consciously named his party after the People's Coalition, which had been founded in the Confederation of North America six years before.

As the campaign wore on, Concepción became more openly radical. He refused to appear in Anglo-majority areas, and called for the nationalization of Kramer Associates and for a "union of Mexicanos against our oppressors." By late July, he was giving most of his speeches in Spanish, and on one occasion called for the "removal of those who stole our country from us."

On election day, Concepción won over 700,000 votes, 11% of the total votes cast, concentrated in the Mexicano areas of the U.S.M. He was able to claim a moral victory, saying, "We have shown the plutocrats of Mexico City and Paris that we are united. We have been heard. We will be heard in the future. Mexico will shake to the sound of our voices, united in the cause of justice. God is speaking to us today, just as he spoke to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, to Revillagigedo and to José Morelos when he first dared defy the might of the white devils of Jefferson. The Workers' Coalition is dead, killed by the cynics of the north. Long live the Moralistas!"

After delivering this address, Concepción and his chief lieutenants disappeared into the western Sierra Madre, to begin a guerrilla campaign aimed at the overthrow of the government. Sobel states that by late July, Concepción had given up hope of winning the election, and that his campaigning was intended to lay the groundwork for his revolutionary movement.

In spite of Concepción's declaration that the organization was dead, the Workers' Coalition did not end. Concepción evidently decided, either from the beginning or later on, that it would be useful for him to continue to influence the Mexican political system. Leadership of the Coalition was taken up by José Godoy, the former mayor of Mérida, Chiapas, and reputedly one of Concepción's lieutenants.

In the summer of the 1881 Mexican elections, the leaders of the Workers' Coalition announced that they would hold a national convention in the Chiapan capital city of Palenque. The convention would be an open one, "and not the secret affair of the Anglos." There were rumors that Concepción himself would appear at the convention, and as its opening day of 15 July 1881 approached, the area around Montezuma Hall was infiltrated by Mexicano newcomers. There were also some Hispanos and Anglos, many of whom were later identified as members of the Constabulary, a secret police force established the year before to combat the Moralista insurgency.

The party's delegates gathered at Montezuma Hall on the morning of 15 July to hear a speech by Godoy. As he began to speak, Constabulary agents entered the hall, marched to the podium, and arrested him. The delegates rioted, and when shots began to ring out, a panic developed. By the time order was restored, twenty-three people, all Coalition members, were dead, including Godoy. Seventy-five more people were badly injured, including ten Constabulary agents.

News of the massacre quickly spread, and Mexicanos throughout Chiapas rose up in revolt. The uprising spread to the Mexicano areas of the other states, except for Jefferson, which was placed under the control of the Jefferson Brigade, a private army controlled by Petroleum of Mexico. President George Vining placed the U.S.M. under martial law, and Constabulary agents roamed the countryside, holding "courts" which arrested, tried, and executed suspected Moralistas. Although Sobel does not say so, the Constabulary also presumably suppressed the Workers' Coalition at this time, since there is no further mention of the organization after the Palenque massacre.

Sobel's sources for the Workers' Coalition are Felix Lombardi's The Three-Cornered Hat: Conceptión, Kinkaid, Rogers, and the Election of 1875 (Mexico City, 1955); William Berry's The Dead Are Unburied in the Plaza: The Mexican Repression of 1881 (Mexico City, 1956); Robert Kerr's Carlos Conceptión and the Birth of the New Radicalism (Mexico City, 1960); and Orrin Macon's The Palenque Convention in Mexican History (Mexico City, 1960).