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Mexico, Mexico City, North Of The Center

demonstrations, shooting, 1968

Nearly 450 years after the invading Spanish and their indigenous allies slaughtered the remaining vestiges of the Aztec resistance, history tragically repeated itself around the ruins of Tlatelolco. In 1968, student movements around the world had emerged and had started gathering increasing support. The Mexican version had began gathering force over the summer.

Pro-democracy demonstrations, attacks on the US Embassy, strikes and riots by high school students and marches were a common occurrence, much to the dismay of the authorities who were nervous about the upcoming Olympics and aware that the eyes of the world were upon them.

On October 2, 1968, 10,000 students, workers, residents and their children gathered in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas to protest government corruption and US imperialism. In response, the government sent some 5,000 soldiers, along with hundreds of police and more than 300 armored vehicles, to the plaza. As darkness fell, shooting suddenly broke out from high up in the Edificio Chihuahua. Soldiers on the ground started shooting back and the protest disintegrated into screaming. As the bodies piled up, men, women and children fled through the Aztec ruins to safety.

Ten days later, the Olympics took place as planned, without any mention of the massacre. Interior secretary Luis Echeverria, who then was in charge of the security force Battalion Olimpia (news reports and internal investigations later revealed that members of the battalion had been the gunmen in Edificio Chihuahua), and President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz were present for the ceremonies and were photographed smiling. It was only later that it became widely known that these two were responsible for planning the plaza attacks, contrary to initial government reports that student snipers had started the incident. Echevarria, who was subsequently tried and put under house arrest, maintained that it had been President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (who died in 1979) who gave the order.

The official government figure of 30 fatalities has been contradicted by survivor accounts which claim more than 300 protestors died and around 1,500 were arrested and tortured. With hundreds unaccounted for, the true figure will probably never be known. However, the incident has been fixed in Mexico┬┤s cultural history through films such as Jorge Fons┬┤ Rojo Amanecer, as well as books and documentaries.

Mexicans have coupled the art with annual demonstrations on the anniversary of the killings, a memorial erected in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, and the recently opened Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco (Av. Ricardo Flores Mag├│n No. 1, Tues-Sun 10 a.m- 6 p.m, $2, ) All of the monuments stand in testament to Oct. 2 as a means of ensuring that Mexicans will neither forgive nor forget the day.

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Must see/do at this place:

Wander around the Tlatelolco ruins

08 Aug 2011

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