The Dead of Tlatelolco
The question of how many people died when soldiers and government agents opened fire on a peaceful student protest in Mexico City has long puzzled researchers. Eyewitnesses to the massacre speculated that anywhere from dozens to hundreds may have been killed, while government stonewalling prevented investigators from clarifying the incident.
But recently-opened archives from Mexican military and security agencies have fuelled new efforts to understand what happened at Tlatelolco. Among the thousands of files now available to researchers are records containing the identities of those who died on October 2: eyewitness accounts by government agents, lists of the dead compiled by hospitals and the Red Cross, intelligence reports on the funerals of victims, and autopsy reports. Taken together, these documents offer the first opportunity to compile a list of those killed during the clash at Tlatelolco.
After eight months of research in the Mexican national archives, the National Security Archive has found records documenting the deaths of 44 people: 34 are named, and 10 more remain unidentified. The death of each person is documented in more than one declassified government record. Each one is cross-checked against the available secondary sources. Each one represents a life lost in the senseless attack by government forces on the student movement--an attack that killed not only students but soldiers, workers, a teacher, a housewife, a 15-year old domestic worker, an unemployed father.
"There is no better way to fight a government's lies than with the government’s own records," says senior analyst and Mexico Project director Kate Doyle. "For the first time, Mexicans can unearth hard evidence about the casualties of Tlatelolco, and with it begin to write a more accurate history of what happened."
In an effort to continue compiling documentary evidence about the victims of Tlatelolco, the Archive announces today the launching of a new electronic registry, located on the web site of the Mexico Project. It is a place where the families, friends and colleagues of those lost can go to register the names of their loved ones and related documents, photographs and memories. Through the registry, the Archive hopes to construct a final and definitive list of Tlatelolco's dead.
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