Prone to Wander

40 Years Ago: Remembering October 2, 1968

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the student massacre in Tlatelolco. Ten days before the “summer” Olympics of 1968 was set to begin here in Mexico City, between 200 and 300 students were shot and murdered by the military and armed men during a student protest in the Plaza of the Three Cultures. Those are the official numbers – some say that as many as a thousand students could have been shot.

This event was preceded by an army occupation of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) – the university where we work. It is said that students were beaten and arrested during that occupation. The Olympic Stadium is on the UNAM campus and it’s where the PUMAs soccer games are now played. The students wanted to take advantage of all of the attention on Mexico for the Olympics for their protests, and the government was anxious to supress them in light of all of the international attention.

The 40th anniversary of the massacre was a big deal for students at the UNAM. Though most of them had not been born yet, there were flyers everywhere telling students to “Remember!” and the Rector (University President) even submitted a lengthy statement that was posted on every bulletin board on campus. Some Philosophy students spraypainted memorial images on all of the bulletin boards near their faculty. Last week on October 2, two marches into the main square of the city were organized, and it is estimated that 40,000 people participated.

We visited the Plaza of the Three Cultures about a year ago. It is so named because it contains Aztec ruins, a very old Spanish colonial Catholic Church, and a massive housing complex built in the 60’s. Here is a picture I took of a memorial stone for the victims of the 1968 killings.

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