Mexican government also spied on Elena Poniatowska
She considered that the proposal to declassify the archives of Mexico’s CISEN and DFS was a good thing - Photo: Alejandro Acosta/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexican government also spied on Elena Poniatowska

30/03/2019
13:24
Newsroom
Mexico City
Cristina Hernández & Pedro Villa y Caña/EL UNIVERSAL
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Spies from the Federal Directorate of Security (DFS) used to keep guard outside her home in Mexico City

Mexican writer and journalist Elena Poniatowska assured that spies from the Federal Directorate of Security (DFS), predecessor to the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN), used to keep guard outside of her home in Mexico City, waiting for her to come out so that they could follow her every move. She said that she “felt sorry” for those people and offered them coffee and cookies.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the author of the Night of Tlatelolco pointed out that Mercedes Vega Armijo, former director of the General Archive of the Nation (AGN), had given her a copy of her record and that it had pained her to learn some of the information reported by the DFS.

“The former director of the AGN was kind enough to give me my record and you cannot imagine how it pained me to read it, because some of the agents that had been sent to spy on me knew very little about me,” she stated.

“They claimed that I was a Swiss spy, they kept saying Swiss this and Swiss that. I don’t know who they sent, but there was one time when they even had a patrol car guarding my house with four men. They were there for about two days, all morning, all afternoon, waiting for me to come out. I felt sorry for them, and so I would come out and offer them coffee and cookies. They just closed their car windows and gave me angry looks.”

The winner of the 2013 Cervantes Award commented that those situations made her feel “extremely vulnerable” since they made her look like someone dangerous.

“It is painful to go on your daily routine and realize that people are following you. It makes you feel extremely vulnerable,” she stated.

She considered that the proposal to declassify the archives of Mexico’s CISEN and DFS was a good thing.

In reviewing documents from the writer’s file at the AGN, EL UNIVERSAL found that the writer was seen at political rallies and protests from several social movements, which may have caught the attention of the intelligence agency.

Another reason why the government kept a close watch on the journalist was because of her role as partner of the left-wing Siglo XXI publishing house. The file included two pictures of the house’s façade.

“Affiliated to communist organizations, she writes for the Siempre journal […] In 1969, she visited the Lecumberri prison in Mexico City on several occasions,” the file detailed.

“The Siglo XXI publishing house, of a left-leaning nature, will have its headquarters at a house on 430 Morena street in the Del Valle neighborhood […] the owner of this address is Mrs. Elena Poniatowska, of Swiss nationality.”

Several pictures of the author taken during her participation at protest in support of students were also included in the file. In one of them, she is seen next to Martín Dosal, cell-mate of Mexican writer and left-wing activist José Revueltas in the Lecumberri prison, and Eduardo del Valle Espinosa, also known as “El Búho” (The Owl), during a protest to reject the appointment of former president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz as ambassador to Mexico in Spain.

The report also details Poniatowska’s travels to Cuba, Vienna, and France, in addition to multiple conferences she gave at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to promote the investigation of the Tlatelolco massacre on October 2, 1968.
 

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