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Tlatelolco 1968 and the Mexican student movement

Vittorio Sergi

Subject Anthropology, History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Central America » Mexico

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics democracy, police, student movements, violence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405197953.2009.01464.x


The movement of 1968 in Mexico was part of a worldwide social movement that year. It was characterized by the definition of a common enemy concentrated in the authoritarian state party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the government, and the president of the republic, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–70). It was led by university students, who occupied the universities and organized militant mass demonstrations. The escalation of radical protests and open repression led to high levels of institutional violence. On October 2, 1968, ten days before the beginning of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, army and security forces opened fire on the student crowd on Tlatelolco Square. From 1966 there had been an increasing tendency to autonomy by the official student organizations, supported by both the Mexican Communist Party and the more radical groups inspired by the Cuban Revolution . The spark for the movement was the heavy-handed intervention of riot police in a vocational school of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico City, with the pretext of stopping a fight between different groups of students on July 23. The protest against repression soon escalated into a national claim against authoritarian government and culture. It represented a rupture in the legitimacy of the Mexican state system. Due to the strength of the students' militant organizations against the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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