Foreign Interests Investment

Since war didn't land the peninsula in US hands, the country attempted to acquire it in other ways - namely through private investment (encouraged by the Mexican government) and agricultural colonization schemes. In 1866 the Lower California Colonization & Mining Company gained title to all Baja lands roughly between San Quintín and La Paz. It embarked on a transparently fraudulent colonization attempt - even issuing bogus paper money - but failed scandalously in the end.

In the 1880s, under autocratic President Porfirio Díaz (1876-80 and 1884-1911), Mexico began encouraging US and European capital investment throughout the country. Eager to raise much-needed funds to grow the Mexican economy, Díaz granted major mining, railroad, manufacturing and other concessions to foreign investors. As a result, northern Baja in particular, which until then had been a complete outback without infrastructure, was transformed.

The main investor was the US-based International Company of Mexico (ICM), which constructed port facilities and flour mills at Ensenada and San Quintín (p119) but failed miserably in its deceptive propaganda campaign

With history, links, a timeline and forums, PBS's outstanding US-Mexican War website ( /usmexicanwar) offers an in-depth look into the war that permanently transformed the US-Mexico border.

Norris Hundley's The Great Thirst: Californians and Water, 1770s-1990s details the controversy between the USA and Mexico over the Colorado River delta.


Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends Mexican-American War


Period of the Mexican Revolution; autocratic President Porfirio Diaz cedes power to revolutionary Francisco Madero in 1911

Lowell Blaisdell's The Desert Revolution tells of Ricardo Flores Magon's quixotic attempt to influence the Mexican Revolution from the Baja periphery.

Author John Steinbeck's book The Pearl is based on stories surrounding the famous pearl divers of La Paz. The oyster fishery there was wiped out by the 1940s.

to attract many colonists. After too many rainless years, ICM cut its losses and surrendered its 'perfect title' to a gullible English syndicate for US$7 million. Again the rains failed and harvests were nil, and those colonists who didn't end up in San Quintín's first cemetery returned to England or moved to other parts of Baja, where British surnames like Jones and Smith were not unusual.

If agriculture proved to be a futile endeavor, mining did not. Several important mineral discoveries occurred around the peninsula, including massive silver strikes at El Triunfo and San Antonio (p201), in southern Baja. One of the largest mining projects, operated by the French syndicate Compañía del Boleo at Santa Rosalía (p166), produced copper until the 1950s and left a fascinating architectural mark on central Baja.

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