The family left Paris when she was nine, going first to the south of the country. When the deprivations of the war became too much and the southern part of France, the Zone libre , was invaded by Germany and Italy in , the family left France entirely for Mexico when she was ten years old. Her father remained in France to fight, participating later in D-Day in Normandy. Growing up, French was her primary language and it was spoken the most at home. Elena learned her Spanish from people on the streets during her time there as a young girl.
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This was a devastating book for me. Review asap. I read the Spanish language edition of this book, but I need to talk about it in English. And I barely have the words in that language. This video is a clip from a documentary which talks about Oct 2, This part has been subtitled in English; there are some graphic scenes towards the end but I think it is important to watch. Please spare a few minutes for it. Now I am going to quote the wiki article on our author, Elena Poniatowska. It also is worth a minute of your time.
The best known of these is La noche de Tlatelolco about the repression of student protests in Mexico City. She found out about the massacre on the evening of October 2, , when her son was only four months old. Afterwards, Poniatowska went out on the streets in the neighborhood and began interviewing people while there was still blood on the streets and shoes strewn about and women searching for the children who had not come home. The book contains interviews with informants, eyewitnesses, former prisoners which are interspersed with poems by Octavio Paz and Rosario Castellanos, excerpts from pre Hispanic texts and newspaper, as well as political slogans.
The government offered her the Xavier Villaurrutia Award in for the work but she refused it. Student movement leaders, teachers, students, workers, housewives, soldiers, reporters, witnesses.
Quite a few of the people in the video clip have their thoughts in these pages. Poniatowska found them in prison. Ana Ignacia Rodriguez, known as Nacha, is the woman who swears in the video that she will never forgive the government. That documentary was made in I wonder if she is still alive and can feel the change brought in by AMLO.
I hope she and the other survivors now have more hope for the country. I had to stop many times while reading, because it was just so painful. The back cover of my edition says that this book should be heard, not merely read. It is true. The words are like screams in the night, shocked thoughts coming from a nightmare. They made me cry more than once, and I cannot watch that video clip without the tears coming.
The first half of the book sets the scene: the reader lives through the marches held before October 2, including the government takeover of one of the schools.
You can see the tension building, so by the time you reach the second part of the book, in a way you are ready for the chaos. Certainly more ready then the participants themselves were.
You live through that night with them, and it was terrible. They were caught in a trap with no escape. There were snipers in various buildings, and these snipers were the first to shoot. Who were they? In the book we do not know, but in the full documentary it is shown that the snipers were government agents with orders to go in and start shooting in order to trigger the results that the government wanted.
And those men with the white gloves in the video? They also were agents. Infiltrators who mixed with the students, supposedly students themselves, but when the shooting started, they put on their white gloves so soldiers would know not to shoot them. They were responsible for turning many students over to the army for beatings, torture and imprisonment. I spoke a lot with my husband about this book. I was only ten years old at the time and all I remember about in Mexico is the Olympics.
They were the most violent of all the soldiers and police that were involved with October 2, the most eager during the tortures that came afterwards. My husband was 12 years old at the time, but he had told me that he went to marches with an older cousin. He was supposed to go to Tlatelolco, but he had a big test the next day so he stayed home.
His cousin went, but early on got a bad feeling about the situation: something told him to leave, so he did, before the shooting started. Some were not so agile or fast, and he never saw a few of his schoolmates again.
There is one entry in the book which says that the summer of created a new group of revolutionaries because so many of the marchers had children with them: cousins, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
These youngsters saw what happened and would never forget how their government turned on the people. Marco himself says that the summer of was the moment that he grew up and became aware of the issues swirling around him. There must have been so many others that grew up in the same way that summer. But what a sad coming of age to experience. I suppose this book would be just as moving in English, but if you can read and understand Spanish at all, please read La Noche de Tlatelolco in its original language.
We owe it to the lost ones to hear the actual words of the survivors. And to try to make sure that such a tragedy never happens again. In any country. At least forty-four people were killed the actual number has never been determined and hundreds wounded. Thousands were detained and over 1, arrested, some to be imprisoned for days and months without trial.
The massacre exposed the enormous rift between On October 2, , just ten days before the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, soldiers opened fire on a demonstration of some 10, students at the Plaza of the Three Cultures in Tlatelolco, in the heart of the city.
The government, which was so anxious to portray Mexico under its leadership as an emerging industrial democracy, instead revealed to the world its own dark, corrupted soul.
Journalist Elena Poniatowska understood the significance of the tragedy and quickly went to work collecting the testimony of people who were there.
In her book, La Noche de Tlatelolco in English retitled Massacre in Mexico , she weaves together hundreds of eye-witness accounts to create a tapestry of horror. Government documents released in would corroborate much of what Poniatowska described: that army snipers on rooftops began shooting into the crowd on a pre-arranged signal. Worse, they showed complicity for the order to fire at the highest echelons of the government. The accounts of the massacre occupy the second part of her incredible book.
The longer first section uses the same narrative technique to explore the origins of the student movement. Like a documentary filmmaker, Poniatowska interweaves individual narratives to create a larger, more complex and heart-rending collage.
She records the distinctive voices and their amazing stories without editorializing. This is oral history at its finest and most powerful.
LA NOCHE DE TLATELOLCO
La noche de Tlatelolco