1968 was an especially volatile year in many countries around the world. In France, the United States, and Mexico, youth and leftist rebellions escalated to previously unseen levels of violence. In the summer of 1968, Mexican students began to demonstrate against the government of President Diaz Ordaz, and were later joined in this movement by labor unions and the working class. The impending Summer Olympics provided the demonstrators with more publicity and an international stage for their complaints. Though the government was aware of unrest among its people, it did not expect the disastrous events of the following few months.
The first clashes between the protestors and the government began on July 22nd, when leftists and students marched on the 15th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. A group of students barricaded themselves inside a Mexico City high school, and when they refused to surrender, the Mexican army fired a bazooka into the building.
This repression mobilized the middle classes to join the protests. Instead of the students' grievances with the P.R.I. regime, the issue was now the freedom to demonstrate.
On August 13th, around 150,000 people marched to the Zocalo, a main plaza in Mexico City, in protest of the government's harsh treatment of the students. Within the next two weeks, 300,000 people marched for the same cause. This march led to an agreement between Ordaz's regime and the protestors, setting a meeting to resolve the conflict on October 2nd.
On the night of the scheduled meeting, thousands of students, union members, and other protestors gathered at Tlatelolco, or the Plaza of Three Cultures, in Mexico City. As the people marched, the military invaded the protests and open-fired. The plaza became a chaotic scene as the thousands of people tried to escape. Hundreds of protesters and onlookers were arrested and...