Mexican court orders probe of 1968 massacre

February 01, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's Supreme Court is ordering the government of President Vicente Fox to investigate the 1968 massacre of student demonstrators by government troops in the capital, perhaps the darkest chapter of recent Mexican history.

Neither the government nor the military has ever officially acknowledged the gravity of the killings on Oct. 2, 1968, on the eve of the Mexico City Olympic Games. No one has ever been charged. Official history texts used in Mexico's schools, printed by the government, erase the event.

Historians and human rights activists say that about 300 people died, and perhaps 1,000 were injured, when plainclothes government snipers fired on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. News of the event was suppressed. The government acknowledged fewer than 30 deaths and maintained that the students opened fire.

The little documentation that has surfaced suggests that the attack was orchestrated at the highest levels of the government, with the intent of suppressing political unrest that might embarrass Mexico before the world.

"In Mexico, no interior minister can order troops around without the president's authorization," Jose Elias Romero Apis, chairman of the justice and human rights committee in the lower house of Congress, said yesterday.

A survivor, Raul Alvarez Garin, said the investigation, if properly carried out, "will be like the Watergate case" in its implications.

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