"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Massacre in Mexico


Writing the review for Paco Ignacio Taibo’s book, “68 made me start thinking about another book I read years ago on Tlatelolco – Elena Poniatowska’s masterpiece entitled Massacre in Mexico. I went over to my shelf and pulled it down to re-read it. Wow! It still packs a punch and makes a deep impact.

Elena Poniatowska’s chronicle of the 1968 massacre at Tlatelolco is an astounding and must read book. An estimated 325 unarmed students were shot and bayoneted that night by Mexican police and Army troops in what had been a peaceful protest about the lack of political freedom and the one-party government. La Plaza de las Tres Culturas has been called Mexico’s Tianamen Square. The President at the time was Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.

Ms. Poniatowska calls it a “collage of voices bearing historical witness” and truly it is. The book is packed with first person accounts and interviews from witnesses, students and people anxiously looking for their children, wives, husbands and friends. In startling black and white photos, Poniatowska takes us there, back in time to that bloody October. There are photos of bodies lying in pools of blood, of police hauling students off to jail, of people crying, in agony, in despair.

Be prepared to cry, to rage, to be haunted for this is a brutally honest look at what happened in Mexico City that day. The voices beg out for justice, they ask why and they grieve. Some of the stories are just so heartbreaking that I have to stop, catch my breath and wipe my eyes.

Octavio Paz wrote the touching forward to this amazing chronicle. This is another must for any library, especially a Chicano one.

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