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March 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
The Truth About Tlatelolco,
World Press Review Correspondent
The phrase Oct.
2 will not be forgotten was revived in Mexico when Proceso
published anonymously received photos taken that night in 1968.
The event was a student demonstration in Mexico Citys
Plaza de las Tres Culturas that ended in what is known as the
Tlatelolco massacre and is described as Mexicos Tiananmen
Tlatelolco, Oct. 9, 1999. Relatives of those who went
missing under Mexico's military governments meet annually
to mourn the dead (Photo: AFP).
The photos are the first to show armed men in civilian clothes,
wearing one white glove, rounding up people who were in the
building from which student leaders were addressing the crowd
in the plaza. [The photos] clearly prove the existence
of the Olympia Battalion, wrote Procesos
Sanjuana Martínez (Dec. 9), who received the photos reportedly
taken by a government photographer. Since 1968, the government
has claimed that students fired the first shots and that the
army responded by opening fire on the protesters.
But Luis González de Alba, a student leader who appears
in the photos, says they prove what weve been saying
for 30 years: that the Tlatelolco massacre was initiated by
men in civilian clothes with a white glove on their left hand
and a gun in their right (Proceso, Dec. 16). Over
the years, testimonies from students and foreign journalists
have claimed that the men posing as students were from the paramilitary
squad formed to provide security for the Olympic Games in Mexico
City and that they were given the additional task of repressing
the student movement before the games began. Who gave
the order? Everything points to Luis Echeverría [then
interior minister and later president]...only he and President
Gustavo Díaz Ordaz had that power, González
de Alba said.
A week after the photos appeared, La Jornada (Dec. 15)
published other photos and excerpts from documents, also received
anonymously, confirming what the Mexican government has
denied for 33 years: that Military Camp No. 1 was used as a
detention center after the events of Oct. 2, 1968. In
the following days edition, retired army general and legislator
from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Alvaro Vallarta
denied that students...were tortured or disappeared.
In response to questions regarding the Mexican armys role
in the Tlatelolco incident and the dirty war that
followed in the 1970s and 1980s, Sen. Diego Fernández
de Cevallos of the National Action Party (PAN) said the armed
forces should not be obliged, like other institutions, to report
all their activities (La Jornada, Dec. 15).
This provoked a response from Ricardo Alemán in El
Universal (Dec. 18), who said the strongest resistance to
an accounting of the past is surprisingly not from
the army or from the PRI, which held power for seven decades
until its recent electoral loss, but rather from the most
hard-line, dogmatic, right-wing sector of the party in power,
the PAN. Alemán predicts the [current] Vicente
Fox administration will be subjected to a harsh test... in clearing
up responsibilities in the dirty war in light of the new
evidence. Procesos Martínez said the photos prove
that all the documentation necessary to find out who committed
the Tlatelolco massacre is in government files.