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October 2, 1968 – Mexican students massacred – Ni perdon ni Olvido!

October 2, 2011

Forty-three years ago today, over 300 Mexican students were killed while protesting in what is called the La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City.

This massacre took place just days before the 1968 Olympics, which the students were using as a platform to tell the whole world about the injustices they and millions of other Mexicans faced. The student occupation of the national university (UNAM) had been going on for months before the military repression took place.

For decades the government tried to cover up what the Mexican army did on October 2, 1968. There have been numerous attempts to investigate the crimes committed that day, but no government official was willing to let the truth come out.

There still is much that is hidden in regards to what happened that day and who gave the orders within the Diaz Ordaz regime, but today we have a great deal more information that has been obtained through the declassification of documents.

The US-based National Security Archives has been able to obtain numerous documents related to the 1968 student massacre. Many of these documents are from the CIA or the Johnson administration and their assessment of what was happening. The US government was claiming that the students were pawns of the Soviet Union, while others express concern for how the student “agitation” will negatively impact the 1968 Olympics.

There are other declassified documents, which demonstrate that the US government was aware of and in support of the military takeover of the university in Mexico City that was being occupied by the students.

Beginning in 2006, the National Security Archive was able to finally get access to several Mexican government documents, which sheds further light on the Tlateloco massacre. With these new documents, we now have a complete list of the students killed that day. In addition, the National Security Archives now has a blog with regular updates on the ongoing investigation in the 1968 student massacre, but the blog is only in Spanish.

This horrendous massacre is deeply important to the Mexican people, but it should be of importance to those of us in the US as well. The US government knew of the repression that would be unleashed on the Mexican students just days before the beginning of the 1968 Olympics, but did nothing to prevent the massacre from taking place.

One other reason that Americans might think about what took place is because of what John Carlos, the great US track runner who used the 1968 Olympics as a platform for drawing attention to the treatment of Blacks in the US said earlier this summer at a conference. He said that while the actions that US athletes took during the 1968 Olympics were important, the most important thing we should remember was the sacrifices that the hundreds of Mexican students made to promote freedom and liberty.

I’ll end with this wonderful Mexican corrido song about the October 2, 1968 massacre, entitled Ni Perdon, Ni Olvido! (Don’t Forgive and Don’t Forget!)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcelo Machado permalink
    April 4, 2012 10:30 pm

    Dear Jeff,
    my name is Marcelo Machado, I live in Brazil and I am a producer of a documentary about the Olympic Games of 1968, in Mexico City.
    I’ve been looking everywhere for high resolution photographs about the Tlatelolco Massacre, and I found your internet page about it.
    I was wondering if you know about any archives which may have these images.
    Thank you for your attention.
    Best regards,
    Marcelo Machado

  2. April 5, 2012 1:09 am

    Marcelo, unfortunately I am unaware of a good archive of high resolution photos of the 1968 massacre in Mexico City. I will ask some friends of mine who are from Mexico that might know of such a resource.


  3. Marcelo Machado permalink
    April 5, 2012 10:22 am

    Thank you, Jeff. That’s great. If you want to email me directly, my email is

  4. Carmen Z. permalink
    December 7, 2012 6:46 am

    It wasn’t 300 students, it was thousands and to this day nobody knows the exact amount and the are still parents and families who never knew what became of their sons and daughters, their corpses were never recovered… They simply remain “missing” this was a horrible day for all of us, UNAM students (I am getting my phd in the UNAM and have studied in it ever since I was 15, currently I’m 25) constantly remember this day so do our families and every time we make PEACEFUL protests we’re afraid it will happen again, we are students we know nothing of guns, they are illegal to own here, so most of us have never even touched one let alone own one or know how to use one, my family lived in the buildings around La Plaza de las Tres Culturas they witnessed everything, and most have dreadful stories and still have some PTSD episodes for they witnessed terrible murders and fires, it wasn’t only the massacre, Tlateloco remained in a military enclosure for weeks, telephone lines and electric power was shut down and no one could come in or go out… Nobody in the government was ever punished for this even to this day.
    Sadly this is a constant behavior in our country, we now have a student organized movement Yo Soy 132 which had not been seen ever since 1968 and 1999 when they tried to privatize UNAM and we had a 1 year and 11 months PEACEFUL strike supported by our own families and professors, many were incarcerated, friends of mine even, some disappeared, and there were also some horrible murders though never as severe as 1968. Now we protest because our government is pure fantasy, and Mr. Peña is not a legitimate president, we HAVE tons and tons of proof, many world class specialists said this election was illegal even before the voting took place and during the campaigns, we don’t support a candidate, we just want democracy but here nobody listens, anything you want to do in Mexico you can do, rape, murder, illegal presidents, and everyone will say nothing happened and even celebrate their felonies through the media, our media only has 2 TV stations which control EVERYTHING (the paper, the radio and cable tv) but the Internet is still relatively free, therefore we inform ourselves through the Web for we have gone back to the printing time were all social revolutions had to be secretly held and informed, independent newspapers also had to be secret, this is the same but technology is here now, and some have been shit down, but there are millions of us, we won’t give up. Nobody is helping us, the world seems to be unaware that just some days ago on December 1st of 2012 over 70 students were incarcerated, tens were tortured, sexually abused (there are PUBLIC photos of this) some ended up severely wounded in the hospital, one professor is at the verge of dying for AGAIN federal police opened fire against our PEACEFUL protest and he got shot in the head, arrived at the hospital with an exposed cranial fracture, is now in an induced coma and has no good prospects of awakening, and if he does he’ll be brain damaged for sure, professor Kuy is 65 years old, do you think a man his age getting shot in the head with a rubber bullet is fair? Rubber bullets here are ILLEGAL by our own government and Mr. Chong (our defense secretary) says they weren’t shot while we have the bullets that hit us, the photos and the videos of the Feds firing, they are all over the Internet, another fellow student Uriel was shot in the face, lost his right eye and thankfully survived, another fellow female student was molested in public by law enforcement and the list goes on and on, even a dear friend of mine got tortured and I knew about it through twitter just yesterday, a lady and her daughter in law who were shopping were arrested for walking by, journalists and bystanders who tried to stop police from beating others. And there was a riot which was caused by the own government agitators -we call them porros, and they have always been a reality for students here, they get paid for making violence in peaceful acts and then making our movement be tainted with violence, they appeared in mx in 1980’s and thank goodness we now have technology on our side to show everyone- who were dressed like civilians and had their faces hidden, they trashed commerces, terrified people and even arrested actual students, we have proof, videos, photos, statements and nobody is listening to us, please tell the world if you read this, even tourists, and innocent bystanders were incarcerated for they tried to protect the kids that were being brutally attacked, remember in Mexico you enter the university at 18 which in the world is not even the legal age for drinking, this is your own children, brothers and sisters, please tell the world, please I am not saying you should change your political stands, help us for humanity, don’t let there be another 1968.
    Today CU (Universitary City) was surrounded by police heavily armed for we had a meeting to help our incarcerated fellow students peacefully and through the law, believe it or not, we still have faith in Mexican judicial system… We are scared of them, but we are terrified of dying in hunger and poverty, we also want to have families, jobs, lives like you, and this is what we are fighting for… Can you believe it? We are fighting for the right of simply living a dignified life, with a job, with a house, with healthcare… Nobody deserves to be shot for this never the less kids 18 years old (some are even UNAM high school students and are not even 18) nor professors who should have the right to retire and have a peaceful elderly age at 65.
    Tell the world please.

    Carmen Zazueta Alcaraz.
    Post-graduate neurobiology student.

  5. December 7, 2012 1:57 pm

    Carmen, thank you for the corrections, the clarification and sharing your thought about the ongoing impact of the 1968 massacre. Ni perdon, Ni olvido!

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