interviewing evil

Lea1

In August of 2003 I conducted a three-hour interview with former Mexican President Luis Echeverría. The central purpose was to explore the paradigmatic changes that so profoundly transformed population policies during his term in office (1970-1976). While this was the central topic, the interview was crisscrossed with multiple sub-topics that linked our conversation with historical memory and biography, violence and authoritarianism, and, of course, politics, power, and democratization. These sub-topics were all condensed under the metaphor of Tlatelolco – the Mexico City student massacre of 2 October 1968.

William Canak and Laura Swanson describe the events and their historical impact:

In 1968, a series of large-scale student demonstrations demanding free and mass education erupted in Mexico City. As the protest expanded to include workers, peasants, and unions, ideas of democracy and redistribution of wealth were adopted. The student movement was significant for several reasons. First, participation in the demonstrations included approximately 400 000 people […] Second, the student march to Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City ended violently with the Mexican police and army attacking the [unarmed and peaceful] group: 325 protesters were killed and thousands were injured […] Third, a number of students involved in the 1968 student movement influenced or became leaders of the urban popular movements in the early 1970s

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