“The Corpus Thursday massacre” occurred on June 10, 1971. Even today it is not known how many died.
The film “Roma” by Alfonso Cuarón shows them. To the attackers. To “Los Halcones”, a guys armed with sticks and bamboo canes. Paramilitaries, financed by the government, ready to kill and finish off. His victims, students, in the first steps of one demonstrating in Mexico City 50 years ago this Friday. It is not known how many died. Some say 120. But it is not known.
That June 10, 1971 was marked in history as “El Halconazo” or the “The Corpus Thursday Massacre”, another black day for history in Mexico.
The attack is one of the most dramatic scenes in Cuarón’s film, because it reflects the social and political environment of Mexicans at that time.
Battles in Mexico City. Photo: AFP
The students, hundreds, had prepared in the evening to march to demand the release of political prisoners and more budget for education, among other demands.
The march finally moves on. Those young people have no idea that after two blocks the world is ending.
That happens when dozens of men appear with sticks and bamboo poles. They violently hit everything in their path. Y the war begins.
The students respond with what there is: stones and sticks, but then the aggressors draw their weapons: rifles and pistols.
The students, boys between 14 and 22 years old, who took to the streets that day were mostly from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). They supported the strike at the University of Nuevo León (UANL). The plan was to meet at a subway station and there march towards the Zócalo.
At the end of the 1960s, with the democratic opening reforms of the then president Luis Echeverria Alvarez (1970 -1976 of the PRI), professors and students of UNAL presented an organic law that proposed a parity government.
That law led Héctor Ulises Leal Flores to the Rectory in 1971. In total disagreement, the government reduced budgets and forced the University Council to approve a new bill where the autonomy of the university was abolished.
The result: the students took to the streets to express their discontent and, who made up the student committee, asked the other universities in the country for their support. Both the UNAM and the IPN responded, decided to unite and hold a massive demonstration on June 10, 1971, which would end in a carnage.
Los Halcones was a group made up of soldiers and young people recruited from marginalized and violent neighborhoods in the Mexican capital, with one purpose: to crush any hint of protest or demonstration.
It is not known how many people became part of this group that was born before 1971 and that had already left their marks in another massacre; the massacre in Tlatelolco on October 2, 1968.
Students flee from the aggressors. Photo: AFP
But the group was always surrounded by secrets and shadows, and its origins they lack accurate data.
Some historical reviews say that they were trained by the military of Mexico and the United States, that is, the CIA, in the late 1960s.
On June 10, 1971, they arrived armed with clubs and truncheons, but later they had 45 caliber bullets and 30 M-2 carbines. They opened fire on the students, who ran for their lives. Many hid, but it did not reach them.
The “Falcons” arrived in trucks, gray vans and transports of grenadiers. They brutally attacked the students from the streets surrounding the Avenida de los Maestros. The police did not intervene.
The slaughter did not end in the streets. He was transferred to hospital emergency rooms, where Los Halcones finished off the wounded in operating rooms and intimidated doctors and nurses into not treating them.
Detained students. Photo: AFP
Today it is not known how many died, how many disappeared and how many were injured. There are no culprits either.
Luis Echeverría Álvarez was legally exonerated of all guilt in 2009, for lack of tangible evidence.
The official figure stood at 120 dead, and hundreds injured, among students, civilians and journalists.