On October 2, 1968, the Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco apartment complex in Mexico City filled up with thousands of students and Tlatelolco residents. The students and residents boldly defied army troops and escalating government brutality. This was happening as hundreds of international journalists gathered in Mexico City for the 1968 Olympic Games, which were just about to get underway.
As darkness fell, soldiers, tanks, and police secretly surrounded the crowd. At a preset signal, helicopters, undercover agents in the crowd, two columns of soldiers advancing in a pincer movement, and tanks opened fire. Over 300 people were murdered and thousands wounded and jailed on that October 2 evening—known as the Massacre of Tlatelolco.
With this savage act, the U.S.-controlled regime of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) hoped to isolate and terrorize the student upsurge. Instead, the massacre exposed the real nature of the government—and compelled many people in Mexico to grapple with the question of what it will take to bring about real change.
The massacre of Tlatelolco is still an open wound for the Mexican people. 44 years later, in this year of stolen elections and with the PRI’s return to Presidential power, we’re sadly reminded that things haven’t changed.
Mexico ’68: A Movement, A Massacre, and the 40-Year Search for the Truth
In the summer of 1968, students in Mexico began to challenge the country’s authoritarian government. But the movement was short-lived, lasting less than three months. It ended October 2, 1968, ten days before the opening of the Olympics in Mexico City, when military troops opened fire on a peaceful student demonstration.
The shooting lasted over two hours. The next day the government sent in cleaners to wash the blood from the plaza floor. The official announcement was that four students were dead, but eyewitnesses said hundreds were killed. The death toll was not the only thing the government covered up.
The Massacre of Tlatelolco has become a defining moment in Mexican history, but for forty years the truth of that day has remained hidden.