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MEXICO: The PRI and the 1968 bloody student demonstration

The 1968 student massacre in Mexico City is still a burning issue in Mexico. A commission to investigate it has been formed, but the attitude toward it of President Fox is ambivalent. Luis Echeverría, who is held responsible, is still alive, albeit very decrepid. He had nothing to say. Commenting on the analysis of Raúl Escalanta, Tim Brown says: "I find this analysis of the Tlatelolco 1968 massacre and its impact fascinating. But it should be remembered that within one presidential generation in Mexico, the man who was considered responsible, Luis Echeverria, was elected president, and the PRI continued in national power for another 30 years. My own impression is that it was the impact of the reversal of the Left's instructions given to Raúl Escalante's communist grandparents, not 1968, that tipped the balance. In the 1930-60s it was PRI policy to co-opt as far as possbile both left and right, and Lefists such as Vicente Lombardo Toledano, Lazaro Cardenas and El Quino joined the PRI, in which they became major powers, in return for shares of power. I myself prefer to date the end of the PRI's seven decade string of electoral wins at the national polls to the consequences of the withdrawal of Lazaro's son Cuauhtemoc from the PRI and the emergence of the PRD as a third force on the non-Marxist far left under his leadership. Following on several efforts to win national elections, towards the end of the last election, Cuauhtemoc recognized that, while he could not win, he could take enough votes away from the PAN to allow for a probable PRI victory. Therefore, a few weeks before the election, Cuauhtemoc put to word out to his faithful that he would "understand" if they felt a vote for him would be merely symbolic and decided instead to vote for someone else. As he expected, this caused an major shift of PRD votes, but from him to the PAN, since by then few PRDistas were willing to support the PRI, but many wanted to punish it. Fox fully understands that it was PRD, not just the PAN, that put him over the top, and often acts accordingly. As for the PRI, I wouldn't count it out yet".

Ronald Hilton - 2/2/02