The Confederación de Organizaciones Mexicanas y Latino Americanas del Estado de Texas was founded at a state convocation of Texas-Mexican self-help organizations in Port Arthur on November 27, 1938. Its attempt to coordinate efforts of various groups in the state to improve the "moral, economic, and cultural betterment" of Mexicans place it as a historical bridge between the earlier mutual-aid societies (sociedades mutualistas) and the later civil-rights groups. Its original name was Confederación de Organizaciones Mexicanas, but it soon assumed a broader title to include state residents of Mexican descent born in either the United States or Mexico. The Mexican consuls in Houston and Galveston issued a call in July 1938 to Texas-Mexican organizations to a meeting called the Convención Regional de Organizaciones Mexicanas de las Jurisdicciones Consulares de Galveston, Beaumont, y Houston. Efforts were made to establish El Congreso del Pueblo de Habla Española (Spanish-speaking Congress) to ensure basic rights for all Spanish-speaking people in the United States.
The Galveston convention participants set up a coordinating committee, which spent the remainder of the summer forming regional alliances that led to COMLA the following November. The committee contacted social, recreational, and other civic groups in all the consular districts around the state, including the Cruz Azul Mexicana, a women's charitable organization, hoping to bring all these groups under COMLA's banner. COMLA worked to improve the cultural life of Mexican children by organizing libraries and cultural enrichment programs. In Houston the organization took a slightly different name, La Federación de Sociedades Mexicanas y Latino Americanas. Under consul Luis L. Duplán it worked to improve its constituents' health, educational, and social conditions, in some cases cooperating with the Rusk Center (see SETTLEMENT HOUSES), a settlement school that provided social services to the Mexican immigrant community in the city. At one time FSMLA joined COMLA in temporarily removing signs posted in public places in Wharton that declared, "Mexicans not Allowed." COMLA held at least four annual conventions, beginning in 1938 and was considered somewhat successful for a time in addressing the Mexican community's major concerns. At what may have been its last annual convention in Galveston in 1941 it focused on the specific issue of segregation. FSMLA apparently lasted through World War II.