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MEXICO: History and textbooks

Our history learning project has two aspects: how do history textbooks depict other countries, and how do they tell the story of their own country? The second is the more explosive, since people often refuse to face up to their own history. Often it is a generational thing. The older generations are pained by more recent viewpoints. When I came to this country in 1937 the western expansion of the US was taught, following the interpretation of Frederick Jackson Turner, as a grand advance of democracy. Affirmative action has balanced this with accounts of the brutal suppression of Indian tribes. Some older Americans are unwilling to face this fact. The case of Mexico is more complicated. In addition to the conflicting interpretations of clericals and anti-clericals, there is the precise question of the Tlatelolco massacre of students on October 2, 1968. This is the subject of a long article in the New York Times (2/7/03) titled "Mexico Digs at Last for Truth About 19698 Massacre". The article says: "For the next thirty years, Mexico's students learned nothing about the event from their official history textbooks--nothing that was true, at any rate." In November, 2001,President Fox appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the massacre. Things are changing.

Ronald Hilton - 2/9/03