Don’t Forget the Tlatelolco Massacre—Mexico’s Tiananmen Square

The thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising received wide play in the media and thorough treatment in a congressional hearing shown on CSPAN. These events recalled how China’s one-party totalitarian dictatorship deployed military force against peaceful demonstrators, killing hundreds. Similar events took place in North America, but have never received the attention they deserve.

The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City were the first to be hosted by a Spanish-speaking country. Mexico’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional, in power since the 1920s, saw the games as a validation of its one-party rule. Mexican students saw it as an opportunity to protest the regime of PRI boss Diaz Ordaz. On October 2, 1968, ten days before the opening ceremonies, several thousand students gathered in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, the main square in the Tlatelolco neighborhood of Mexico City.

Mexican government troops began firing on the crowd from the surrounding rooftops, joined by helicopters. The attack killed hundreds but the official figures and names of those murdered, arrested and imprisoned were never released, and the PRI regime conducted no investigation. President Diaz Ordaz and interior minister Luis Echeverria faced no charges, and Echeverria became president in 1970.

The PRI regimes continued until 2000 when Coca-Cola magnate Vincente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) took power, but this was little more than a change of labels. The PRI continued to dominate Mexican institutions, and Fox maintained the coverup. In 2014, students at a Mexican teacher college commandeered buses to attend demonstrations commemorating the massacre of October 2, 1968. Mexican police attacked the students, killing six and dragging off 43 others. The PRI government claimed they had been taken by a drug gang and incinerated in a garbage dump. Six months after the murder-kidnapping former president Fox appeared on Univision and said “it’s about time” the parents give up demands on the Mexican government and “accept reality.”

Mexico’s socialist president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who invited Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to his inauguration, is a frequent critic of the United States. On the other hand, AMLO, as he is known, kept rather quiet on the 50th anniversary of the massacre last October. Continuing coverup of the 1968 massacre confirms little change from the days of Mexico’s one-party PRI regime.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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