Army shot bazooka at students during the 1968 conflict

Echeverría requested military intervention and Díaz Ordaz agreed; it turned out to be one of the deadliest events in Mexican history

Army shot bazooka at students during the 1968 conflict
San Ildefonso, now a museum, was used as the students' headquarters - Photo: Courtesy of Bob Schalkwijk
English 30/07/2018 15:50 Newsroom Mexico City Juan Arvizu Actualizada 15:53
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The Mexican army entered in conflict with the student's movement when it shot a bazooka to tear down San Ildefonso High school's door on July 30, 1968.

At 0:50 am, a troop of rifleman and parachutists entered the student's refuge. They took over three schools with blood and fire and arrested around 1000 students.

According to military records, around 500 liters of gas were found inside the school, and it added that two gun shops had been looted.

Today, the UNAM is remembering this event on its gazette.

It chronicles how "Luis Echeverría, the Internal Affair Secretary, called President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz along with the National Defense Secretary and described the scene as a country on the verge of collapse because of the students' movement”.

Echeverría then requested military intervention, arguing that the local Police Department wasn't able to suppress the students, who allegedly altered the city's peace and threatened to rob gun shops. Díaz Ordaz agreed.

General José Hernández Toledo ordered to destroy San Ildefonso's baroque door, which dated from the 18th century and which had survived the Independence war, the Reform and the Revolution. 100 years before, then President Benito Juárez had inaugurated the high school.

The recount the describes how the UNAM's dean, Javier Barros Sierra, pulled the flag down to half-mast to protest the violation of the university's autonomy.

In a discourse before the university's community, he said: “Today is a mourning day for the university; our autonomy has been severely threatened...autonomy is not an abstract idea; it's a responsible exercise that should be respected by everyone”.

The movement then reached a dramatic point, despite its short existence.

The UNAM and IPN were the dissidents' headquarters, yet their meetings were infiltrated by the Mexican secret service and military intelligence.

On the night of July 29, the day before the bazooka's firing, they had set buses on fire inside two high schools.

Public transport was paralyzed, as 200 buses were stolen and their gas was used as the main ingredient for homemade bombs.

This day, 50 years ago, 400 students were injured, but the army never admitted any murder.

This event will go down in Mexican history as one of its deadliest days, as the students' suppression and massacre increased day by day.


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