miércoles, 1 de octubre de 2008

“’Here’s a farewell present for you.’ And they started hitting us as though they were breaking piñatas.”


- Anonymous eyewitness of the student massacre, Mexico 1968

“I don’t know how many days I’m going to be here...let me talk to my son. I want to hear his voice.”

- Testimony of a Mexican soldier after participating in the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre

In an expressive letter marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Tlatelolco Massacre—addressed to the Generation of Dignity of 1968, Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) note that:

The movement of 1968 has definitely marked this country’s (Mexico) history. Then, two countries confronted one another the basis of authoritarianism, intolerance, repression, and the most brutal exploitation; and the other that wants to build itself on democracy, inclusion, liberty, and justice.

The student movement began in the summer of 1968. It indisputably is the medium that forged a selection of politically motivated upheavals that acutely decried the state’s legitimacy and ineptitude. Students rose high above their stereotypic image as self-righteous bookworms out to better their own lives. Although portions of the student body might have fit these characteristics the other half of the student population yielded their personal interests in lieu of the welfare of its fellow compatriots. Nor was the student movement exclusive. The radical panoply of the 1968 Mexican Student Movement represents years of frustration, distress, and inconformity by the Mexican popular classes. Some may argue that the student rebellion began in the summer of 1968 but the conflict between students and the state began decades ago attributed, by first, the lack of university autonomy.

In the sixties, political oppression elevated students’ political awareness. The regulation against “social dissolution” and also “criminal association and sedition” facilitated the growth of a radical youth that was ready to take-on the government. Democratic avenues for political change were being close.

We must discontinue believing that the student movement was a student rebellion and nothing else. In the event of sounding paradoxical—the fact of the matter is that this detail is neither accurate nor erroneous. Former participants would never claim that the movement’s intentions and objectives were plainly meant to reform the education system or were only snobbishly intended to persuade the government to allocate massive quantities of funds to education in exchange for providing subsidized programs intended for indigent communities. There has been conclusive evidence from ex-participants, scholars, witnesses, and formally aligned organizations of the rebellion, which suggests that the 1968 rebellion was a “popular” revolt composed of various social groups from diverse socio-economic environments. Second, students made up a segment of the popular classes because hypothetically they fit into that particular social category because of their family background. Granted many students were from upper class families, but with time they evolved into student-proletariats, a term they appropriated through their interpretation of Marxism. What once may have been a firm relationship between the ruling party and the bourgeoisie; it was now jeopardized by the radical student or petty-bourgeoisie who initiated a new process to eliminate absolutism and hegemony—prompted by the lack of democracy.
According to a statement made by Gilberto Guevara Niebla, “I am convinced that the future of this country lies in the hand of the young people of my generation.: To demonstrate that they were capable of being leaders and understood politics, students from various universities in Mexico City took on tasks that involved rallying sectors of the proletariat and middle-classes. Plus, in the university students were exposed to an array of ideas and interpretations that convince them of many things relation to the social conditions of Mexicans. Through rigorous investigations and by learning scientific methods of approaching problems they were able to come up with innovative solutions. Their professional upbringing taught them how to approach social and political problems and to locate the solution to these issues through intense research and action. By learning these traits once they integrate themselves into society they are already prepared to tackle any projects.

Tomorrow Mexico City will commemorate 40 years since that disgraceful day when people's lives were changed forever. Family members of lost students, children, fathers, brothers, and sisters will march throughout Mexico City as a gesture of solidarity for those lost in the massacre, but most importantly prevent this malicious act from being forgotten. Mexican society continues to denounce the repressive measures taken by the state to impede the democratic opening of Mexico's. Please join us in solidarity.

Fernando Calderón