50 Years Ago — The Tlatelolco Massacre (October 2 1968)

“The situation will be under complete control very shortly.”

Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios (Head of Mexican Federal Security) — Message to the CIA (September 26 1968)

“The horrific nature of the Tlatelolco killings was made worse by the fact that, as a policy, it seemed to achieved its aims – the student movement was crushed, hopelessness prevailed, and the PRI had consolidated its power. A key part of this was suppression of the idea that the massacre ever happened at all – the official death toll remained under 30.”

Felix Bazalgette  — El Grito: the film banned for revealing the truth about Mexico in 1968

Fifty years ago, a group of student protesters were gunned down in the middle of a square in Mexico City. At the time, authorities tried to cover up the true scale of what happened, but the Mexican government has now accepted it was a state crime.

In 2002, President Vicente Fox appointed Ignacio Carrillo Prieto to prosecute those responsible for ordering the massacre. In 2006, former President Luis Echeverría was arrested on charges of genocide. However, in March 2009, the genocide charges against Echeverria were dismissed.

Despite the ruling, prosecutor Carrillo Prieto said he would continue his investigation and seek charges against Echeverria before the United Nations International Court of Justice and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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The Tlatelolco massacre was the killing of students and civilians by military and police on October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City.

The events are considered part of the Mexican Dirty War, when the government used its forces to suppress political opposition. The massacre occurred roughly 10 days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

The head of the Federal Directorate of Security reported that 1,345 people were arrested.

At the time, the government and the media in Mexico claimed that government forces had been provoked by protesters shooting at them, but government documents made public since 2000 suggest that snipers had been employed by the government.

According to US national security archives, Kate Doyle, a Senior Analyst of US policy in Latin America, documented the deaths of 44 people. However, estimates of the death toll range the actual number from 300 to 400.

Documents originally published in Doyle’s 2003 Electronic Briefing Book, provide a fascinating glimpse at US security concerns in Mexico City surrounding the ’68 Games and US-Mexican relations.

Declassified documents reveal that the ‘concerns’ of Mexican President Diaz Ordaz  prompted the Pentagon to send military radios, weapons, ammunition and riot control training material to Mexico before and during the protests.

 US Government Records

In October 2003, the role of the United States government in the massacre was publicized when the National Security Archive at George Washington University published a series of records from the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, the FBI and the White House which were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The documents detail:

That in response to Mexican government concerns over the security of the Olympic Games, the Pentagon sent military radios, weapons, ammunition and riot control training material to Mexico before and during the crisis.

That the CIA station in Mexico City produced almost daily reports concerning developments within the university community and the Mexican government from July to October.

That six days before the massacre at Tlatelolco, both Echeverría and head of Federal Security (DFS) Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios told the CIA that “the situation will be under complete control very shortly”.

That the Díaz Ordaz government “arranged” to have student leader Sócrates Campos Lemus accuse dissident PRI politicians such as Carlos Madrazo of funding and orchestrating the student movement.

The Tlatelolco massacre, 50 years on

REFERENCES

Tlatelolco massacre — Wikipedia

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50 Years Ago — The Tlatelolco Massacre (October 2 1968)

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