During the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz government, the people were repressed, offended, and abused. Also, President Diaz wanted an absolute government in which he could have complete power and authority over the country and Mexican citizens. On October 2nd, in the region of the Plaza de las Tres Culturas a thousand students were gathered to protest against the government’s actions. Things started to slip through his iron fist and this turned into a nightmare of horror and grief.
The student’s protest of 1968 in Mexico City were initially touched off not by university political issues, but by charges of unusual police brutality in the suppression of a typical fight on the streets between students of two rivals high schools after a football game. As the article Mexico’s 1968 Massacre: What Really Happened? states, “The siege ended when the soldiers blasted the main door of the National Preparatory School in San Ildefonso with a bazooka, killing some of the students in the building.
In spite of the police brutality, the offended teenagers took to the streets in protest on July 25th inspired by other student movements around the world. Unlike other past times in Mexico the middle class was enjoying a high quality of life because of the prosperous 1960s. These families had the opportunity to send their children to universities and other educational institutions. In turn, these middles class families had access to modern comforts like television and other forms of media.
They found inspiration from other student and civil rights movements in The United States, Czechoslovakia, Argentina and Japan among others (Richman). The Summer Olympic were to take place in October and President Diaz wanted to show the world that Mexico had progressed and grown. The protesters saw it as an opportunity to show the world the abusive government in order to put pressure on the regime. For this reason, the Diaz administration became nervous about restraining the protest. On October 2nd, 1968 in the plaza of the housing project, Tlatelolco, among thousand people got together calmly to protest and pay attention to speakers.
Without warning, special military units began spring on the protester with fire quickly after the speeches had begun. “Hundreds of peaceful protesters, as well as residents living in the buildings surrounding the plaza, were killed and 1,000 more were arrested by police and military troops”(Bernath-Plaisted). It still not known what was the exact number of deaths. General Marcelino Garcia Barragan, Mexico’s defense minister claims the army was acting in self-defense. However, after further investigations, it was proved that there were government snipers on buildings firing on the crowd.
In addition, an eye-witnesses claim the army entered the square in seven or eight armored tanks and began shooting first (BBC). * As the data shows, the Tlatelolco massacre marked an important decisive moment in sports and political history. The entire world had its eyes on Latin-America because of an extremely important worldwide tradition we call “The Olympics Games”. It was a first time this international event was going to be held in Latin-America. The result of the Tlatelolco massacre and how the government would respond to this event would determine the fate of the 1968 Olympics Games.
At the same time it would also determine how the international community would view Mexico and Latin-America in general. This event did not change the politics much but it did change the citizens’ mindset towards the regime (Bernath-Plaisted). It brought attention to an abusive administration and authoritarian leaders. As time passed the Mexican people’s social movement brought upon a more open and democratic government.
- BBC. “1968: Student Riots Threaten Mexico Olympics. ” BBC News. BBC, 10 Feb. 1968. Web. 11 Mar. 2013. <http://news. bbc. co. k/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/2/newsid_3548000/3548680. stm>.